By Rose Miller
Each year, my team and I have a planning meeting to discuss the New Year’s challenges and HR trends. The focus this year is new technology and tools. My dad, an old world Italian carpenter, always said a person is only as good as his tools.
More employers are seeing the value of having an HR strategic business partner in their toolbox. In 2020, HR trends include:
Learning and training as a top priority
Hiring managers know a key retention tool is a comprehensive training program. Well-designed programs reduce turnover. Employee training programs generally cost about $1,250 per employee per year. Although this cost adds up, it is minuscule in comparison to the costs of recruiting, hiring and training replacements.
In a tight labor market, re-skilling and skill mapping can be an effective way to compete for scarce talent. Companies are turning to internal employee development programs. These programs build an internal talent marketplace where employees have a chance to replace obsolete skills into newer skills.
The best training programs also fill in deficits such as the absence of business etiquette, development of “soft skills” and leadership skills for executives. Training employees on mandated laws and internal policies mitigates financial risks. Investing in employees is a sound ethical practice, and it also helps the bottom line.
Automation as a solution to labor shortages
Automation is changing the very nature of many jobs, as well as creating new ones. As can be expected, different innovations are impacting a wide variety of occupations and fields, leading to significant transformations for workers and companies. The Uber/Lyft driver, for example, is now an essential in many U.S. communities. Some Uber/ Lyft drivers may have driven taxis previously, but many drivers have jobs elsewhere. This category afforded flexibility in part-time and full-time work.
Automation improves customer experience, and creates more efficient operations. Accounting and bookkeeping functions were transformed completely by software and applications.
Still, automation is the trend that raises the most anxiety for the workforce, especially as a threat that eliminates jobs. But research indicates that fears may be overstated based on what tasks could actually be automated, the new roles that workers can play, and the jobs that can be created exceeding the elimination of jobs.
Increased need to outsource functions
Outsourcing can be defined as “the strategic use of outside resources to perform activities traditionally handled by internal staff and resources.” Outsourcing is a strategy by which an organization contracts out major functions to specialized and efficient service providers. Once again, outsourcing can mitigate the shrinking availability of competent workers.
Outsourcing also includes having only a piece of the internal function outsourced. Examples are HR departments that outsource leaves of absences and the CIO outsourcing their cloud capabilities or cyber security.
Outsourcing’s flexibility and scalability is attractive to organizations responding to rapid changes or when revenues are project-based. The quality of work increases and the annual cost is generally less.
Focus on engagement
We hear it often. Managers asking us “What the heck do employees want?” “They don’t seem to care.” “How do I get them engaged?” In many cases, we see employees disconnected from their organization, its mission, the customers and their jobs. One foot is always out the door.
Why does this happen and why is it so important? Employee engagement is extremely beneficial to any workplace. Finding talent is hard work. Keeping them has become even more difficult.
When we ask if anyone specific is in charge of employee engagement, the answer is usually no one in particular.
Driving engagement begins with assessing factors that either increase engagement or cripple it. When we perform 360-degree surveys, engagement surveys or culture audits, the results can guide employers to make critical changes to move the needle in the right direction.
Better tools for data analytics
We are becoming a data-driven culture. In addition, organizations will become data-driven in order to harness the power of AI and big data. Data analytics is emerging as a foundational piece of business decision making.
Data analytics is being used to make consumer marketing decisions and help address operational inefficiencies. That means roles are changing fast and becoming more fluid. Every department will have its own analytics, and they all matter to the company’s bottom line.
To quote a local business coach, an HR strategic business partner “shouldn’t just report on what’s in your rear-view mirror but rather prepare for what is coming at you in the front windshield.”
By Rose Miller