December 18, 2015

10 areas HR professionals should focus on in 2016

The close of one year and beginning of another is always a good time to reflect on what has been and what is to come. HR professionals need to use this opportunity to prepare themselves for 2016.

It almost goes without saying that 2016 is going to be a year of further change for the profession, with new disruptions, innovations and ways of working. A lot of HR teams are still playing catch up with all the change that took place in 2015, so there is no scope for complacency.

To help you, we have come up with a list of the top 10 areas that we think HR professionals need to be focusing on in 2016:

1. Technology. Technology is behind a lot of the change that has been and will be occurring. HR needs to embrace the possibilities of technology, but without being swept along with the latest fad or piece of kit. Look at the technology you have already got – is it doing what it needs to do? Is it user friendly? Does it enable your business to be agile? Huge amounts of change are predicted in this space for HR in 2016. According to research by Bersin, more than 40% of all companies are replacing or planning to replace their core HRMS systems. LMS markets are also being hugely disrupted by new video-based learning solutions. Plus there’s video, mobile, etc to think about.

2. Be employee-centric. Think of employees as consumers. With regards to L&D, for example, how do they learn currently? How do they want to learn? How can you best deliver the type of learning they want, when they want it, on the device they want to use? Employees have become self-directed learners so if L&D doesn’t want to share that journey, they will be left behind.

3. Business alignment. This is something HR and business leaders have been talking about for a long time, but still needs improving. HR has to be aligned to the business. It needs to really understand business drivers and objectives and its role in achieving them. Talk the language of business. The benchmarking organisation Towards Maturity has talked extensively about the need for HR to focus on business outputs, rather than learning inputs.

4. Data. It’s all about data these days, whether you work in HR, finance or marketing. Want to implement a new training module – where’s the data to support why it is needed and what the results will be. This ties in with talking the language of business and again, this is something that Towards Maturity has made a big play of.

5. Skills. What skills does your organisation really need now and in the future? Do you have them? How can you get them, internally or externally? HR needs to keep one eye constantly on the horizon.

6. Learning culture. Organisations need to really foster and encourage a learning culture, enabling employees to keep learning and learn as part of the workflow. Facilitate collaborative learning and sharing, be it through peer to peer networks, community portals, special projects….

7. Talent. Do you have the talent you need? Are you retaining your top talent? How can you retain your top talent? With the jobs market continuing its recovery and an ageing workforce who will start retiring, it’s rapidly becoming a candidate’s market.

8. Mental health and wellbeing. There is so much research that shows that workplace stress levels are high, working hours are long and a culture of presenteeism exists. The mental health and wellbeing of the workforce is a really important business issue, as Professor Cary Cooper, the new president at the CIPD, made clear at his opening speech at the recent CIPD conference.

9. Working patterns. As we know, the workplace is no longer a 9-5, Monday-Friday, office based set up. Increasing numbers of people want to work flexibly, whether it’s flexible hours, flexible location or flexible roles. There’s also increasing numbers of freelance workers. Organisations need to accept and facilitate these different working patterns if they are to hire and retain the best talent. Flexible working arrangements can be highly beneficial to employers as well, when considered properly.

10. Your own self development. It’s very easy for HR professionals to spend all their time on the career development of others and neglect their own career development. Needless to say, your career and skills development is just as important, particularly as the profession is going through so much change and you have to change with it.