It's that time of year again. HR events are in full swing, 'Best of' lists are hitting the internet on the daily and big ideas abound.
But which ones are worth your time?
At PerformYard, we're big believers in substance over form. We've combed through the most relevant and comprehensive HR reports to separate the fact from the clickbait and bring you the big-picture predictions that will have a tangible impact on the way you run your performance management process.
1. Automation sparks augmentation
Klaus Schwab is the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF). So why is he on this list?
Though you might be tempted to think of the WEF solely in terms of high-level Davos meetups, the world-leading economic think tank became highly relevant in HR circles in 2016 after publishing their seminal paper on The Future of Jobs: Employment, Skills and Workforce Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
For their latest follow-up, Klaus and his team at the WEF surveyed a collective of in-the-know Chief HR Officers at some of the world’s largest employers. And while many HR predictions this time of year will focus on the shiniest new tech, the WEF found that what really matters is how tech will be used. Or, more specifically, how it will be used to "vastly improve the job quality and productivity of the existing work of human employees."
"As has been the case throughout economic history, such augmentation of existing jobs through technology is expected to create wholly new tasks — from app development to piloting drones to remotely monitoring patient health to certified care workers — opening up opportunities for an entirely new range of livelihoods for workers."
— Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum
While the onslaught of tech means that the number of employees needed to complete certain tasks will likely decrease, it also means there will be opportunities for employees to transition into new areas of innovation, including brand new roles. Research from a 2018 Randstad survey seems to support this, with 65% of employers globally saying they believe HR tech will free up workers to focus on more knowledge-intensive tasks.
But for many employees, this won't be an easy transition. If you're considering introducing a new tool or workflow next year, use your performance management strategy to establish clear expectations about how an employee's role has shifted, identify changes in their core KPIs and, if you want to go the extra mile, give them access to the learning and development tools they'll need to stay ahead of the curve.
2. Systems of productivity
Discussion about the future of work has been marked by hype and panic — but now that there's more proof behind the argument that technology is here to "help us, not hurt us", it should be easy to figure out which tools to add to your HR tech stack, right?
Wrong. As one of HR's biggest thinkers Josh Bersin puts it, "I’ve been studying this market for close to 20 years and it is now more confusing than ever." In order to make sense of it all, Josh and his team are launching a 2019 study with a view to reframe the role of HR tech.
From my perspective, we’re moving into a new era. One where HR technology is no longer a forms automation system, but is now becoming a true “system of productivity.”
— Josh Bersin, Founder, Bersin by Deloitte
According to Josh, tech should be natural and easy to use. And it should meet employees where they are in their actual daily workflow (hence the name of his research theme, “HR in the Flow of Work”). As the nature of work shifts, placing increasing demand on knowledge-intensive tasks, it's important to track performance at the practical level.
Whatever tool you decide to use, make sure it matches the unique shape and rhythm of your business, and that it's light and easy to implement across teams. Because the counterintuitive truth about tech is that there is no shortcut. Making it easy and relevant is the only way to guarantee a solid participation rate.
3. All types of analytics
If you've attended even one HR conference this event season, you've likely heard one (or more) of the following phrases: people analytics, predictive analytics, prescriptive analytics.
It's a lot. But with the lightspeed rise of tech, it's no surprise that analytics are becoming a bigger and bigger part of the HR picture. Erik van Vulpen is the founder of Analytics in HR and the HR Analytics Academy. He believes HR analytics can transform the way businesses evolve and innovate. But how does that look on a practical level?
“People analytics is changing how we do business for the better.”
— Erik van Vulpen, Founder, Analytics in HR
In one of the best examples, HR leaders at Credit Suisse launched a people analytics project to help offset high turnover. The company was investing heavily in attracting and training young talent, but their strategy just wasn’t working. Employees were leaving in droves.
After an investigation into their turnover analytics, the team was able to identify the key drivers of employee turnover and predict on an individual level which employees were most likely to leave. They then gave this information to a team of trained managers who would provide individual coaching and feedback to get those at-risk individuals back on track. Experts estimated this saved the company up to $100 million annually in attrition-related costs.
While this is a great example of predictive people analytics (i.e., analytics used to predict a probable outcome), many HR leaders are now exploring the idea of prescriptive analytics, or analytics that predict which solution to a problem might work best.
Robust performance management data can help you "prescribe" a performance coaching plan to individual team members based on what has consistently worked (or not worked) in the past.
4. Performance guides recruitment
You could have the best performance management process in the world, but it won't make a bit of difference if you've made the wrong hire.
Tom Haak is the director of the HR Trend Institute and one of many HR leaders who believe the interview is a poor selection tool. Luckily, the right analytics can help here, too.
With good workforce analytics, we can determine the characteristics that differentiate the high performers in our organization from the average performers.
— Tom Haak, Director of the HR Trend Institute
Performance data can help narrow down the traits of high performers and enable HR and hiring managers to make better decisions. For example, tailoring your interview questions to draw out the behavioral insights about what makes a great candidate can help you make a hiring decision that is both values-based and performance-driven.
Even smaller insights, like knowing where your top performers hang out online, can maximize your recruitment budget by helping you source from the right places. But you have to be close enough to your top performers to get those insights. You also need a system that helps you close the gap between collecting performance insights and using them to guide hiring decisions.
5. The rise of agile HR
Now we've arrived at what may prove to be the biggest HR buzzword for 2019. But unlike most buzzwords, this one holds its weight.
What started as a strategy swiped from Silicon Valley by business big-wigs like Gap, Pfizer and GE has now quickly caught on with organizations of all sizes. And it makes sense. With the pace and shape of business looking markedly different than in the post World War II environment when HR was born, agile HR presents a fast and nimble alternative that gives businesses the competitive advantage they need to stay relevant.
With the business justification for the old HR systems gone and the agile playbook available to copy, people management is finally getting its long-awaited overhaul too.
— Peter Cappelli, George W. Taylor Professor of Management, Wharton and Anna Tavis, clinical associate professor of human capital management, New York University
For those who don't already know, the Agile Manifesto was created by a small group of fed-up software developers. Tucked away at a meetup in the mountains of Aspen, they set out to create a better approach to building tech products, thus the Agile Manifesto was born. It laid out four core principles for agile development:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan
The founders pointed out that while all of the above are valuable, the bolded items on the left are more valuable. Which begs the question, what's valuable to you as the New Year approaches?
Perhaps more than ever before in the history of HR, we've arrived at a moment of less talking and more doing. If HR leaders are to rise up and finally get that "seat at the table" that's been mentioned on lists like this year after year, action is what's needed more than anything else.