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5 top trends to improve HR Management in 2016


By Bettina Rodríguez Flick and Carolina Reynoso Butrón

"The business models of each industry will be transformed", this was one of the assertions that appeared in a recent video entitled "The Fourth Industrial Revolution" published by the World Business Forum. Indeed it’s spot on; we are living a historic moment, as organizations today are liquid, more agile, more focused on innovation, and more digital  than ever.

As expected, talent management is also experiencing radical transformations. We are noticing more flexible working patterns and work experience is far more personalized. Employees are always connected and perform their duties in collaborative environments. Similarly, we are seeing how mobility is increasing across the board in all areas. Consequently we find ourselves in a scenario where it is difficult to retain high potential talent, as nowadays employees have more capacity than ever to choose where and how to work.

This article discusses employee engagement as a solution to this situation as well as other important trends in talent management in 2016: new models of performance assessment, informal learning, digitization and the new leadership.

  1. Employee Engagement:

    In a transparent world where employees have greater than ever decision-making power over their professional careers, we see how it makes sense to carry out proper engagement management to safeguard talent retention. The benefits are outstanding, but so are the costs of not doing it well as an article in the Harvard Business Review pointed out, "In a Gallup survey, for instance, organizations whose employees reported high engagement had 25% to 65% less attrition  than their peers (depending on whether they were traditionally low- or high-turnover organizations). They also received higher marks in productivity and customer satisfaction."

    This is becoming so important that Bersin claims engagement management and employer branding have become synonymous. Despite this, Gallup points out that only 13% of employees worldwide are committed to their work. As a solution, we have outlined various strategies in our recent webinar "Best Practices To Drive Employee Engagement" led by Betsy Kolkea: place engagement management at the heart of HR strategy and practice, customize the individual experience of the employee, use integrated analytics like those offered by Talent Matrix tools, like the 9-box grid. Such tools are designed to enable organizations to classify and segment talent within employees based on their potential and to design development plans tailored to each of the predefined groups: contributors, high or low performance, at risk of leaving, among others. Furthermore, it is essential to actively listen to employees and take various concrete actions in order to provide more flexibility and control.

  2. Ongoing performance reviews:

    This is one of the hot topics of the year. The performance paradigm shift is none other than a consequence of the general change that we're witnessing in organizations towards more flexible, collaborative and teamwork-oriented models. For these new organizations, the current performance model typically based on annual reviews falls short. Today we observe a change over to a new performance management model within liquid organizations.

    Such organizations require ongoing performance review that provides a month-to-month reality check or even over shorter periods. In this light we see a trend emerging for continuous evaluation over time which is more transparent and collaborative alongside a compensation system based on many more factors than currently used and not just linked to scores. Continuous feedback or social recognition strategies are some of the cornerstones of this new model. This kind of ongoing performance assessment is closely tied to employee engagement, a subject which we have been bringing up quite regularly.

  3. Informal learning and career self-development:

    We have been seeing how careers change every five years; most of the jobs today did not exist 20 years ago. Thus employees must constantly reinvent. To do this, not only do companies facilitate continuous professional development but their employees feel the need to manage their professional paths autonomously. Hence a company-employee dynamic is established where the former facilitates highly flexible professional development and informal training, while the employee can develop his career with freedom. Content generated by both sides as well as external content are shared and true learning networks are established.

    For Gartner, while traditional ways of learning prepared us for problems of the past, the new informal learning deals with problems of the present. This is based on informal content created and distributed through various tools such as discussion forums, blogs, wikis, audios, videos, and more to suit different learning styles as reflected by  Bersin’s 4 "Es" of modern learning: education (formal learning), experiences (tasks and projects), environment (culture, work environment) and exposure (connections and relationships with bright people). Bersin adds that "eagerness to learn" is one of the most important factors for employee retention and in turn engagement management, as it improves motivation among employees and thus they feel more realized.

  4. Digital HR:

    A trend that we have been talking about for a few years already, digital HR depends on technological development. Over time we have been observing a greater impact in all aspects of our lives, such as mobility, collaborative social networks, artificial intelligence, new digital jobs . These are discussed more in depth in our recent publication "The New Digital HR Leader", which provides keys so HR leaders can meet the challenges of digital talent management in their organizations and make the most of this transformation.

    As Gartner says in "Predicts 2016: HCM Applications Transform to Support the emerging Digital Workplace", a new digital work environment is emerging. As it is, all talent management processes are already digital: the way in which we recruit, train, evaluate, communicate, collaborate, etc. We are now seeing how the "content cure" is taking hold or how the importance of video is growing. Another major trend that we are beginning to observe and likely to have a big impact in the coming years, is the "behaviour economy" which measures to the nearest millimetre employee activity and behaviour in order to offer a more suitable experience design to fit their needs and concerns. This will also naturally have an impact on improving engagement. Similarly in this process, predictive analytics will play a fundamental role.

  5. A new generation of leaders:

    New management models and emerging liquid organizations inevitably drive leaders to reinvent themselves. In their "Predictions for 2016" study, Bersin says that "the leaders of today are team managers, rather than executives of hierarchical organizations and must learn to lead global and multifunctional teams". According to these analysts, a new leadership model is emerging no longer based on the job but on the ability to inspire others, to be an example, to support others and to lead change.

    For the new management team, mobility is hot this year: mobility between departments, towns, jobs, etc. This has a lot of ties with individualized career development mentioned earlier. Flexibility within organizations itself requires this mobility. With the "Talent Mobility" formula Bersin proposes, we see how there must be a balance between the individual's desires and needs and those of the organization, which are shaping various factors like performance, career development, succession, among others. In this context, career portals are a great help for fostering collaboration, communication and awareness of the opportunities within the company.

    Another important factor is the management of different generations in liquid organizations: we live in a multigenerational environment in which for the first time 4 and even 5 generations work together. This is quite a challenge for leaders to tackle through various diversity management strategies. Moreover leaders are becoming leaders earlier than ever, so we find leaders from various generations working side by side. This happens because today qualities such as intelligence or the ability of self-management and self-discipline are more valued than experience or the evolving job.

Editorial HR

Meta4, with 1,300 customers in 100 countries, manages more than 18 million people worldwide. The company’s R&D&I center located in Spain (Madrid) develops HR applications capable of meeting local and global needs of all types of organizations. The editorial team is made up of professionals with over 15 years of experience in the HR technology field.

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