With Christmas just around the corner, I thought now was the perfect time to share with you my HR predictions for the year ahead. We’ve seen the world of HR continue to transform as we’ve progressed through 2017, and I don’t see that changing as we head into 2018 and beyond. Here, then, are the things I believe all HR practitioners should look to expect:

Data, Data, Everywhere

With GDPR on the horizon, data is going to be at the top of most business’ agendas, and HR has a key part to play in ensuring their organisation is compliant. However, there’s a watch out, which is to not get bogged down in compliance to the detriment of driving the business forwards.

Data provides HR with one of the biggest opportunities it has. For too long, HR functions have ignored the huge swathes of data available to them, and have made decisions without them being truly rooted in data-based fact, impacting their credibility in the boardroom. Now, we need to grab this data with both hands and use it to determine the strategy and the initiatives we are going to implement in order to drive the business forward.

The Employee Experience

The employee experience is no passing fad: it is firmly here to stay, and both HR professionals and organisations as a whole ignore it at their peril. The concept of the employee experience and how it translates into working practices is not simply gathering pace, it is snowballing. To have any hope of attracting the best possible talent, organisations will need to put the quality of the employee experience that their people receive right at the top of their strategic agenda.

The employee experience presents one of the biggest opportunities for the HR function to pivot from reactive support services to proactive value adding initiatives. There is still some debate currently as where the ownership of the employee experience needs to sit. HR needs to grab it with both hands, and ensure that they are at the centre of the employee experience revolution.

Flexibility For All

Perhaps the most optimistic of my predictions, but I remain hopeful that in 2018 we will start to see an end to the pedalling of flexible working as being something which is only required by working parents – mothers in particular – and something which every single one of us has the right to expect. Flexible working has been proven not only to benefit employees, but also employers, with improved rates of productivity and falling turnover rates. If your organisation doesn’t already offer flexible working to all – as Benefex does – why not make 2018 the year that you change that.

The traditional nine to five is dead, and the smartest businesses out there now allow employees to tailor their individual working patterns to allow them to fully integrate their work and home lives. Flexible working isn’t something that only parents need, it’s something which can help all of us with our mental health and with our responsibilities outside of work. Organisations refusing to accept this do so at their peril.

Social Savviness

For so long, employers have seen social media as the enemy when it comes to their employees’ social media profiles on there. We’ve seen organisations who have flat out blocked access to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and their ilk, and organisations who carry out a forensic search on prospective candidates’ social media presence before they are able to progress through the recruitment process.

Expecting our employees to behave outside of work exactly as they do inside of work is both ridiculous and unreasonable. Deep down, all businesses have known that the professional face of the employee they see in the office is probably not exactly the person who plays football on Saturday mornings, or is down the pub on Friday night with their mates. Social media is uncomfortable for organisations because it turns this theory into reality, enabling managers and customers alike to access our employees’ personal lives.

I believe that the world of work is getting more tapped in to the many and varied benefits of social media, and is starting to see it as something which can help rather than hinder business progression. I am also starting to see evidence of organisations taking a more pragmatic approach to their employees’ social media profiles, even encouraging them to use these to positively influence others in their social network when it comes to their business’ products or services.

Perhaps in 2018 we will start to see true pragmatism when it comes to our employees’ presence online. Refusing to hire someone for outwardly bigoted and illegal views on their social media profile is entirely understandable. Deciding not to do so because you’ve found a couple of photos of them enjoying a drink on a Friday night is rather less so.

Personalisation

My final prediction when it comes to the world of work in 2018 is one of personalisation, something which I’ve already touched on in a couple of the predictions above. Gone are the days when employees were content to be one of a number, treated exactly the same as every other one of the five hundred call centre workers they work alongside. Great employee experiences come from personalising that experience to the individuals who work for you, acknowledging that each one will have slightly different needs and requirements. Whether it’s the flexibility of working patterns, the components of an individual’s reward package, where and how they work, or even exactly what their job role looks like… it’s that personalisation which makes a real difference, which finally puts an end to employees being seen as a resource, and which actually treats them as they are: as people.

Thank you to everyone who has commented on, shared, and provided input to the blog in 2017. I hope you all have happy and restful Christmases and look forward to sharing more posts with you in 2018.