HR in 2017 - a review


Future of Work HR transformation


It’s been a busy year for HR professionals. We assess how our predictions for 2017 panned out

Twelve months ago, we predicted five major trends that would affect HR and workplaces in 2017. But how did our predictions shape up?

Our predictions were:

  1. Employee wellbeing
  2. Mobile adaptability
  3. Greater efficiency in HR
  4. Next-gen performance management
  5. Cloud-based tech

1. Employee wellbeing

Prediction: “The challenge is to keep abreast of the mood of the workplace and identify areas where dissatisfaction is creeping in”
Result: mental health dominates the agenda

Spa settingEmployers have a legal obligation to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees at work, including minimising the risk of stress-related illness. With greater awareness and transparency about the importance of wellbeing in the office, more employers are reviewing their wellness practices.

But, with Thomsons Online Benefits reporting that half of UK employees feel that their workplace has a negative impact on their physical, mental and financial wellbeing, it seems as if there’s still some way to go before we get workplace wellbeing right in the UK.

In its 2017 report on work-related stress, depression and anxiety, the Health and Safety Executive concludes that:

“Work-related stress, depression or anxiety continues to represent a significant ill health condition in the workforce of Great Britain. account for 40% of work-related ill health and 49% of working days lost, in 2016/17. The occupations and industries reporting the highest rates… remain consistently in the health and public sectors of the economy. The reasons cited as causes of work-related stress are also consistent over time with workload, lack of managerial support and organisational change as the primary causative factors.”

Many forward-thinking organisations offer employee assistance programmes (EAP) – often in the form of confidential helplines – to help employees deal with the stresses and strains of their personal and working lives. According to data from Health Assured, an EAP provider, nearly two-thirds (60%) of employees were able to return to work after using an EAP. A further 64% of employees suffering from depression showed an improvement after using an EAP, and 51% said the EAP had helped to reduce their anxiety.

PR agency Forster Communications has developed its own holistic wellness programme, featuring a mental health toolkit to help employers encourage a culture in which good mental health thrives and employees who require assistance are supported.

“Our ambition is to have a culture that attracts and keeps great people, and we are committed to offering broad and innovative benefits to everyone who works here,”

– Kate Parker, HR manager

2. Mobile adaptability

Prediction: “More employees will use mobile devices to manage their time, check their benefits, manage their training, communicate with HR and clock in”
Result: culture change needed to use devices effectively

Just over half of all employees who responded to the Deloitte Global Mobile Consumer Survey 2017  say their use their phones for at least one work-related business task. As of mid-2017, the most common tasks carried out on smartphones among workers were: email (44%), voice calls (34%) and calendar management (23%).

Heap of electronical devices close up - smartphones on black backgroundBut research suggests that mobile phone use can have a detrimental effect on employee productivity. A 2013 study by Florida State University found that the probability of making an error increased by 28% after receiving a phone call, and by 23% after receiving a text message.

It is an ever-increasing normality that different pools of employees will have their own group chats on WhatsApp. This could be for after-work sporting activities or an internal committee such as a social club. With telecommuting now expected by employees, being able to reach a remote worker quickly, easily and for free is of big benefit to business leaders and team members alike.

Social teamwork apps such as Slack are also becoming more popular among employees as a way of collaborating and sharing information across multiple locations.

But a survey released by workplace performance platform Nudge Rewards, in February 2017 found that trust is a big issue among employees who use mobile devices at work:

  • 41% worry that their manager will think they’re using their device for personal reasons, even though they are using them to perform work tasks
  • 30% feel they’re forced to use their devices discreetly for fear of being judged by their manager
  • 29% believe that trust is an issue in their workplace when it comes to mobile devices

Although mobile usage has continued to grow in 2017 it’s clear that businesses need to do more to educate and invest in mobile technology to improve efficiencies.

3. Greater efficiency in HR

Prediction: “Any software or technology that helps HR work more efficiently will be a key focus”
Result: software shoulders the admin burden for busy teams

Technology background PCB and code. 3d IllustrationEmployee self-service software such as CIPHR enables HR departments to devolve responsibility for data ownership with employees. Empowering employees with the ownership of their data not only reduces the burden on HR, but also improves data accuracy and the employee experience. Employee records can be updated without sending requests to managers and/or HR, meaning that the process is completed quickly and efficiently.

System integration through the use of APIs further streamlines internal processes. Single points of data entry that update all business systems automatically ensure all departments are working with the same information, and all business tools are updated seamlessly and immediately.

With the continued rise in functionality and availability of apps and tools available to automate our everyday tasks and processes, connecting one piece of software with another is no longer a luxury – it’s an expected feature.

4. Next-gen performance management

Prediction: “HR tech will focus on rethinking how we measure performance and manage careers”
Result: regular check-ins are growing in popularity

Enabling continued employee development is key to motivating and retaining employees. For an organisation to grow and benefit from training, they need to create a culture of continuous employee development.

International Business MeetingMany organisations have moved away from traditional performance management processes – such as annual appraisals – in 2017, turning instead to regular employee-manager check-ins and ongoing feedback and development. Four-fifths (80%) of gen Y workers prefer on-the-spot recognition to formal reviews, so we can expect to see this method gaining in popularity as new employees enter the workforce.

The use of technology, including performance management software, can provide much-needed structure to regular employee discussions, by capturing results and action points, and providing reminders to stick to a consistent feedback schedule.

5. Cloud-based tech

Prediction: “2017 will undoubtedly see an increase in cloud-based HR”
Result: the demise of on-premise software is confirmed

Aerial view of Mountain in Switzerland, seen from above.Accessing applications and business tools via the cloud has become the default for most organisations. This use has continued to increase in 2017, with traditional locally installed systems becoming a thing of the past.

The ability to access vital information from anywhere and at any time enables heightened collaboration, higher productivity and a greater freedom of where and when we can carry out business tasks and processes.

SaaS enables you to scale rapidly compared to on-premise solutions. Your provider can simply add more servers and capacity according to your needs, in many cases almost instantly – whereas adding servers on-premise would require a significant investment of time and money. And, because security and version control is also the responsibility of the SaaS provider, you can be confident that you’re using the latest and most secure software available.