2018 will be a ‘year of two halves’ for HR, say experts


Future of Work


Compliance requirements will dominate agendas in first six months before giving way to urgency of ‘humanising’ the employee experience, argue panellists during CIPHR webinar

HR professionals can expect 2018 to be a “year of two halves” according to industry experts who debated the profession’s most pressing trends in a recent webinar co-hosted by CIPHR and employee experience specialists Benefex.

“There are lots of compliance and ‘must-dos’ in 2018,” said Kathryn Kendall, chief people officer at Benefex, referring to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and gender pay gap reporting requirements – both of which will be high on the agenda for HR in the first six months of this year.

Beyond compliance issues, “the trend that can make the biggest wholesale change to our working environments is employee experience, because it encompasses so much – from the humanisation of work to how, when and where we work, and productivity,” said Kendall. “That’s the big opportunity for me this year.”

Perry Timms, founder of PTHR and author of Transformational HR, added: “If you take employee experience as the primary driver, other things will naturally be challenged and changed. There is so much I think that is at fault in the world of work – there are some really poor management behaviours. I think if you got rid of those, you would get rid of a lot of the tension. I think humanising employees will lead to the eradication of some of that toxic behaviour, so let’s make that happen.”

Kendall and Timms also debated the key findings of a new CIPHR white paper, From evidence to automation: eight trends that’ll shape the HR profession in 2018. Key predictions identified by the research include a new push on ways to improve employee and organisation-wide productivity; the decoupling of career progression from management responsibility; and a new-found self-confidence among HR professionals themselves.

With so many potential priorities to focus on, it’s essential that HR practitioners engage senior leaders and employees at all levels with HR strategy, said the panel. “It’s about creating a joined-up roadmap, which is very clear about what the organisational strategy is, how that flows down to individual departments, and how that cascades down to individual employees,” said Kendall.

“Employees want to be treated like adults; like they can make a tangible change. So they need to understand how their individual targets contribute towards departmental goals, and what the business is trying to achieve. That transparency is a huge aid to becoming more productive – because if they see time being wasted on non-value-adding activity, they’ll call that out.

Timms added: “Organisations are socialised constructs – but we’ve prevented some of that happening with structures and procedures and hierarchical levels. You have to make it a normal thing to talk about the direction of travel of your organisation. Open the discussion on it, understand it, and plot a way forward to co-deliver it. The more you socialise it, the more it becomes something everybody actively participates in, and then is a joint effort.”

Catch up last week’s debates by watching the on-demand broadcast, which is available here. The accompanying white paper, From evidence to automation: eight trends that’ll shape the HR profession in 2018, is free to download now.