In a rapidly developing workforce and business environment, organisations face an array of ever-changing trends and HR challenges. To surmount these challenges, corporations need to keep ahead of the curve with modern HR strategies. Here are our key insights into up-and-coming trends and challenges to achieve an upward shift in employee engagement in 2016.

Employee disengagement: An uphill battle for HR leaders

Employee engagement – it’s the lifeblood of an organisation. While the direction and key initiatives may come from the top management, a large part of the organisation’s success boils down to how the employees execute these initiatives.

Yet, keeping employees engaged is a rising challenge for companies. A study conducted by Gallup revealed that the level of employee engagement in organisations has fallen to astonishingly low levels. A mere 29 percent of employees in the U.S. and Canada indicated that they were actively engaged, while 54 percent stated that they were not engaged at all. 18 percent stated that they were actively disengaged; this may pose a significant problem for organisations, as such employees are likely to influence their colleagues or affect their customers in a negative manner.

Talent recruitment: A shift in paradigm is needed

Do away with outdated talent recruitment strategies; to address new HR challenges, a shift in paradigm is needed. Potential candidates should be regarded as customers, and there is need for companies to assess how the community at large views them.

Much thought and planning needs to go into designing and implementing employer branding strategies, so that top talents are induced to seek the organisation out. However, a study by Brandon Hall reveals the opposite situation to be true: 64 percent of companies surveyed indicated that only a casual or developing talent acquisition program was in place within the organisation, and less than half (40 percent) plan for talent recruitment needs more than six months in advance.

The rising importance of HR analytics

In the age of smart data analytics, there is a greater need for hard facts, data and analysis in HR — a function where soft skills are predominant.

Yet, few organisations track or use talent analytics effectively. This issue has been investigated by HR Leaders in their report, titled ‘What’s Next for HR in 2016?’. A total of 350 HR leaders from organisations worldwide were surveyed to assess their concerns and views of potential challenges that may arise in 2016. Only 5 percent of these companies indicated that they tracked or utilised talent analytics effectively. 12 percent stated that predictive analytics for HR decision-making was used within the organisation, while about half of the organisations surveyed plan to use predictive analytics for talent decisions in the near future.

The growing importance of HR analytics presents an additional challenge for organisation. Companies will have to put in place programs to bridge the technological skills gap of their employees, and to encourage them to form HR strategies and business decisions based on a combination of soft skills and hard facts.

Strategies to overcome trending challenges

1. Giving a boost to employee engagement

Instead of regarding employee engagement as a measure to review on an annual basis, companies need to adopt a holistic approach when designing engagement strategies, and view it as an integral part of the entire business strategy.

Employee engagement is impacted by a vast array of factors, ranging from the physical work environment and corporate wellness strategies implemented, to other aspects such as maintaining timely and clear feedback channels and using the right technological tools for effective communication.

Communication is a tricky issue for organisations to address, particularly with the emergence of trends such as remote working. Organisations such as Buffer have hit the nail on the head on this issue, incorporating a mix of strategies and tools to keep communication clear and timely within a team made up of members working across different time zones and geographical boundaries.

HipChat serves as a replacement for informal office ‘water cooler’ chats, Sqwiggle makes up for the lack of face-to-face interaction and Hackpad becomes a handy substitute for collaborative work meetings. Pair calls are a mandatory measure that helps to keep team members connected and updated about each other’s work and self-improvement projects.

2. Putting a modern spin on talent recruitment strategies

The rapid development of social media networks, online channels and mobile platforms has led to significant changes in the way we interact with others and search for information. Recruitment strategies need to evolve in a similar pace, in order for companies to attract the talent that they seek in the modern workforce.

So what should organisations and HR leaders keep a lookout for? Judging from current trends, a focus needs to be placed on the following aspects: mobile recruitment, video recruitment, using smart data analytics and tapping on social networks.

As social media becomes increasingly integral in our daily lives, potential candidates seek experiences that are similar to the ways in which they communicate across social media networks during their job search processes. Understanding this, corporations such as Pepsi, Gap and Deloitte have incorporated the use of social media and social recruiting software in their recruitment strategies.

Video recruitment is another emerging trend that HR leaders need to keep a keen eye on. Organisations such as Google and Shopify have utilised videos as part of their recruitment strategies, as this medium allows for information to be conveyed in a personalised and highly visual manner. When shown on the appropriate online channels, such videos are extremely effective, and may create a more significant impact relative to text recruitment advertisements.

 3. Introducing smart HR analytics into the organisation

Smart analytics can bring a wealth of value to the HR game plan. Let’s use the example of an organisation’s recruitment process. Analytics can help companies gather critical insights, such as the preferred communication methods of potential candidates, the benefits they seek, as well as the likelihood that a potential candidate will exhibit high performance on the job. The benefits of utilising smart data do not end here; organisations can also tap on talent analytics to improve key HR functions, such as reducing the turnover rate and creating talent management programs that address the needs of their employees.

How can companies introduce HR analytics into the organisation? HR leaders may consider hiring skilled analysts to lead teams that support HR functions. Strategies may be put in place to foster a closer relationship between the HR and IT departments. For example, analysts could be equipped with HR technology skills, or IT specialists could be hired to work in HR teams.

Experimentation should also be encouraged. Cross-functional think tanks can be organised, so that employees are provided with ample opportunities to discuss and devise innovative solutions by using different types of data.

To sum it all up…

Adopting modern HR strategies is key for helping companies to manoeuvre their way to the top in an increasingly competitive environment. However, HR leaders should keep in mind that whichever tools, technologies and measures they decide to adopt, successful implementation largely depends on whether employees are engaged with the strategies. An equal, if not greater amount of effort should be invested in on-boarding employees, so that they possess the necessary skills, and are motivated to carry out these initiatives.

    Globetrekker Challenge is a corporate health technology company for employee health engagement and HR data analytics. By integrating multiple features across wellness, technology and social, Globetrekker Challenge creates robust outcomes to improve employee retention, performance and culture.

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