Blog Post

The 4 Most Important HR Trends And What You Should Do About Them

Barely a week passes without another HR buzzword doing the rounds, so let’s cut through the hype.

We’ve analyzed the four main trends that are changing the face of HR, and shared practical advice about what you should do about them in your own department.

So you can walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

Read on, and:

  • Discover how to create an employer brand that meets the challenges of the diversified workplace;
  • Explore real-life use cases for people analytics and seize the competitive advantage of better HR decision-making;
  • Understand which touchpoints HR tech transforms, and how to decide where to invest for maximum impact;
  • Learn what agile really means for HR, and how to maximize your chances of success through astute investment and cultural change.  

Let’s go.

The four most important HR trends – and what you should do about them


#1 – The shape-shifting workforce

The sharing economy. The gig economy. The contingent workforce. This is the idea that ever-growing numbers of people have a diversified income, because they freelance, temp or side-hustle through platforms like eBay, Airbnb and Etsy.

PricewaterhouseCoopers predict the number of traditional full-time workers in the US could drop to only 9% by 2030, for instance.   

In broad brushstrokes, that’s credited to:


PwC outline four different visions for the future workforce. In two, “near-zero employee organisations are the norm” and HR doesn’t, or barely, exists. Another broadens HR into an amalgamation of HR, marketing, CSR, and data analytics.

Only one vision sees HR become more influential, as human capital becomes more success-critical than ever.  

It’s this vision that’s most plausible. As businesses operate in an increasingly disruptive, competitive environment, the value of talent will also grow. And HR will be the all-important guardians of that talent.

What will change dramatically is how you find, attract, hire, manage, engage and retain game-changing talent, especially remotely.

Organisations that compete will treat individuals as individuals, to craft an employment vision that’s one-size-fits-one.

A culture that motivates, engages and inspires workers will be your biggest asset, as will a strong employer brand – the vehicle which broadcasts that message to potential new hires.

Find out how BNP Paribas Fortis used employee onboarding software to co-construct an employer brand capable of evolving in pace with the future workforce.


#2 - People Analytics and Big Data

The data universe is doubling in size every two years, IDC report, forecasting the total volume of accumulated data worldwide at 44 zettabytes by 2020. Which is impossible to conceptualize, but it’s a lot. Whoever coined the term ‘Big Data’ is a creative genius.

People analytics, or HR analytics, harnesses this data to deliver quantitative insights about your people, so you can make better decisions through the employee lifecycle.

But despite proof that “organizations that invest in this area are seeing above-average improvements in employee engagement, performance and profitability”, Bersin by Deloitte note that only 2% of organizations have reached people analytics maturity.


Embracing people analytics now offers significant competitive advantage.   

In fact, “those using people analytics in a sophisticated and insightful way report 82% higher three-year average profit than their low-maturity counterparts”, the Bersin report finds.

Implement people analytics in your organisation to transform things like:

Recruitment – make better quality hires because you know who’s most likely to fit into your culture and perform fastest and best.

Retention – decrease attrition because you understand why turnover happens and identify at-risk employees in time to re-engage them.

Training – maximize engagement, productivity and budget efficiency because you can spot skills gaps and deliver targeted training.

Workforce planning – drive long-term business success because you have a better strategic overview of what the business needs and when.

Diversity agenda – remove unconscious bias from your people decisions for fairer hiring, promotion, management, training, etc.

Ultimately embracing people analytics gives you more control over your workforce, current and future. And that’s the secret to a more commercially successful business.

#3 – HR Tech

Our notoriously slow industry is being dragged, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century by the rampant world of HR tech. These technologies fundamentally change the way we work, automating processes and creating efficiencies.

The darker side is the fear, shared by 37% of people globally, that automation puts jobs at risk.


Don’t blindly adopt every new technology. Astute judgement is needed in a world where a new start-up springs up every minute, solving problems that don’t need solving with technology no one understands.

As Forbes advise, “Beware of vendors who try and dazzle you with hype […] Look for smart (and often simple) technologies that are user-friendly and deliver targeted results.”

But don’t shy away from new technology either, because smart HR tech increases your bandwidth so you can focus your time and attention where you drive most value.

Look at touchpoints where HR tech can have a big impact, fast. Like these:

Recruitment AI-based tools allow automation of arduous manual tasks like CV sourcing, interview scheduling and follow-ups, so you can invest more time on high-impact tasks like qualifying candidates.

Onboarding – employee onboarding software creates a consistent, branded, easy-to-use employee onboarding process that empowers your people from day 1.  Organizations approaching onboarding this way enjoy 54% greater new hire productivity and 50% greater new hire retention.



Performance management – continuous performance management software gives you the tools to set better goals and manage employees on-the-go, to optimize performance in real-time.

And what about those fears, that tech will go all robo-apocalypse on us? Get ahead of the AI curve by addressing these changes head-on.  Proactive dialogue can transform your people’s anxiety into an engagement opportunity.

Hold comprehensive training on new tools and technologies so employees understand how new tools empower, not threaten, them.

And develop training programmes to re-skill valuable employees whose jobs change or become redundant thanks to automation. “People not jobs” will be the future of HR.  

#4 – Digitalization, digital transformation and agility

“Agile”, Harvard Business Review write, “isn’t just for tech anymore”. That’s a sentiment you hear time and again – but what is agile in the context of HR?

It means transforming the way you hire, manage and grow your people. Becoming more nimble. Quicker to react. More flexible to change. True agility impacts your structures, processes and attitudes: it’s about the way you do things.

It’s the opposite of bureaucracy and red tape and hierarchical feedback chains that work like Chinese whispers.


When you get agile right, you enjoy a whole host of advantages over stalwart competitors. The 12th Annual State of Agile report finds that 71% of agile adopters can better manage changing priorities, for example. 62% enjoy faster time-to-market. 61% increased team morale and productivity.

But implementing agile is challenging. Especially with legacy architecture looming over you, belching black smoke as it chews up and spits out innovative ideas before they gain traction.

Your biggest battle will be culture. The report identifies respondents’ biggest challenges to implementing agile and all three fall under the culture umbrella:

  • 53% - organizational culture is at-odds with agile values
  • 46% - general organizational resistance to change
  • 42% - inadequate management support and sponsorship

Focus on overcoming these hurdles to accelerate agile adoption for your HR team. C-Suite and team buy-in is vital for your success so don’t bite off more than you can chew. Prove concept by starting small before scaling.

You also need to invest in the right tools to empower change. 41% of respondents believed this was the most helpful factor in scaling agile. Combine smart new tools with an agile attitude that embraces autonomy and encourages creative thinking, and you’ll be well-placed to make agile a success.

Discover how Sodexo embraced employee onboarding software as the lynchpin of their digitalization journey, and central to their innovation attitude.


Nobody’s got a crystal ball. Deciding which HR trends are guff and which really matter – and how to put those ones into action – isn’t easy. But hopefully this article has helped demystify four of the most important movements in HR, and given you some ideas to make them work for you. And in doing so, cement HR’s place as a critical business partner for the future.

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