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[01.17 | Keywords: Human Resources, HR Trends]

Over the past decade, human resources have evolved due to changing technology and the shifting priorities of employees and employers. Following are some HR trends looking to impact businesses in 2017.

Juggling Multiple Generations

Employers today are faced with managing three generations of employees – Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers. More often than not, the Millennials and Gen X employees are supervising Baby Boomers and the Boomers are mentoring those who wish to learn from the older generation. Each generation presents its own unique challenges for management. From unhappy Baby Boomers who delayed retirement due to the economic downturn, to Millennials who expect a strong work-life balance, getting them to happily co-exist and work as a team can be a juggling act for managers.

Flexible Work Environments

The traditional workforce continues to change faster than employers can keep up, with flexible work environments topping the list. Employees today expect to take time off when they need the time, whether through flexible work hours or work weeks, flexible time off for appointments or paid time off. They also want more choice and flexibility in how they approach tasks, jobs and opportunities to advance their careers. Allowing a little flexibility (when possible), may lead to motivated and engaged employees who are less stressed out about family and life issues, since they have the time necessary to address work-life balance issues.

Recruiting & Networking Online

The way employers go about recruiting workers has changed dramatically over the past decade. Gone is running ads in the classifieds of the local newspaper. Today, employers post on large job boards like Indeed and network on sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Human resource managers who don’t embrace these new ways of interacting and communicating with prospective employees may miss out on a large talent pool.

Rise of Technology

Technology has transformed the way human resource officers communicate with employees, as well as manage and communicate employee information. Today, employees stockpile information, work collaboratively and share opinions and project progress using things like Google Docs, webinars and more. They can even hold meetings and work virtually with distant teams.

Rising Healthcare Costs

The rising cost of health insurance and healthcare isn’t going away anytime soon, affecting what employers can provide in terms of additional benefits for their employees. For example, the rise of employee payments for part of insurance coverage, the practice of seeking insurance first from a spouse’s employer, increased payments for covered family members, and higher healthcare provider co-pay office fees are all the end result of the rising cost of care.

Blurred Lines – Work vs. Home

The ability to stay connected via technology often blurs the line between work and home. No generation has ever been this connected and as a result, some employees never stop working. While this can interfere with down time, relaxing and work-life balance, many employees see this as a way of life. Employers need to make sure this degree of connectivity is not required to do the job.

In addition, employers need to heed wage and hour laws when dealing with hourly employees who must be paid for every hour they work, making this work/home blurring a nightmare for employers who must pay overtime. As a result, some employers forbid hourly employees from bringing work home, answering work calls or responding to work email from home.

Human Side of Business

Workplaces today are evolving into more human, people-centered spaces. As a result, human resource managers may need to rethink traditional policies to meet the needs of a more open and expressive workforce. Two areas that top the list to rethink today are paid time off and compensation processes.

Identity Theft

In a world where identity theft is prevalent and can cost an employee countless working hours over several years to correct, safeguarding employee records remains critical. Identity theft is so serious and rising that every employer needs to develop a plan to prevent.

Training & Development

This decade has seen the rise of technology-enabled opportunities for training, employee development and meetings and seminars. Podcasts, teleseminars and webinars provide unlimited employee development opportunities, while online learning and all forms of web-enabled education and training provide options that employees never had when training occurred in a classroom. In turn, employers are saving millions of dollars in travel expenses and employees can participate in training modules when it’s convenient with their schedule. Micro-learning, virtual reality, gamification and mobile are all expected to play a role in employee development during the upcoming year as well.

Workplace Culture

We all know that there can be a significant difference between an organization’s mission statement and what employees experience, or what really goes on within an organization. People entering the workforce in 2017 and beyond tend to be less trusting of authority, making it more important than ever for businesses to gain the trust of their employees by demonstrating that they “walk the walk and talk the talk.” This requires a culture of listening and taking action on employee concerns.