Changes that HR Professionals must grapple within 2017 and beyond

Change is the only constant. Top HR professionals know this and are therefore always on the lookout to adopt shifting paradigms in the industry so that their organisations can stay on top of their game. According to Mercer’s recent study on global talent trend, more changes are expected in 2017 and beyond.

1. Expect restructuring & technology adoption

Firstly, expect restructuring as up to 93% of respondents plan to make design change in their organisations in the next 2 years. Most of them envision moving support functions to shared services, flattening organisation structure and eliminating roles and departments. Other changes include decentralising authority, building networked communities and creating project-based units. All these mean nimbler organisations, thereby more operationally and cost efficient, as well as more empowerment to those in the lower chain of command, leading to quicker decisions, shorter turnaround time, and increased innovation culture.

Raising an organisation’s efficiency is never complete without the adoption of technology, which what respondents say is the trend that likely has the most impact on their organisations in the next 2 years. Yet, less than 10% of respondents consider themselves a digital organisation, and nearly 20% say they do not have a digital experience when interacting with HR. Without the help of technology, HR’s role in managing its talent pool will be greatly hampered. This is an area that HR professionals must take heed.

2. Expect change in how performance is measured

Secondly, the shift in employees’ values from nominal and target-based metrics to relative metrics will continue to drive changes in organisations. This is reflected by 97% of employees who want to be acknowledged and rewarded for various contributions, not just financial results or activity metrics. Up to 47% of employees opine that fair and competitive compensation would improve their work situation. Other responses include the need for promotion opportunities, leaders who set clear direction, chance to work with the best talents and transparency on salary calculations.

In response to these growing views, 88% of companies changed their performance management approach last year, and 83% plan to increase salary transparency and implement various changes that include calibrating goals across roles, implementing more team-based metrics, replace performance ratings with descriptors or remove ratings altogether, and introducing technology that allows continuous feedback.

3. Personalising the workplace

Thirdly, companies have begun personalising the workplace in response to growing demand for flexible workplace experience, which majority of employees and 40% of HR respondents acknowledge would improve employees’ ability to strive. Personalisation also includes ways to integrate one’s work to suit one’s personal lifestyle.

For this, 61% of employees say workplace flexibility was supported by their managers, but about 33% say their requests for flexible work arrangements were declined. Perception is also an important factor hampering a flexible workplace culture, as about 50% of employees worry that working part-time or remotely would be detrimental to their promotion opportunities. Other benefits that employees deemed would improve the workplace experience are 4-day work week, fitness facilities and well-being services, as well as shorter working hours in exchange for lesser pay.

4. Maximizing the potential of predictive analytics data

Lastly, the adoption of predictive analytics in various segments of the business to improve the agility and responsiveness of organisations. Companies are collecting more data than ever before, but too few are able to utilise the data for predictive analytics. The figures were not optimistic, but that only means there is a lot of room for improvement.

Respondents who do not, or do not know how to, use analytics in making human capital decision have increased to 5% in 2017 compared to 3% last year. Meanwhile, those who say they use analytics to benchmark and correlate business metrics (27% in 2017 vs. 35% in 2016), or use any predictive analytics at all (7% in 2017 vs. 10% in 2016), have decreased.

But there is a disconnect between the data HR is able to provide and the data that key executives actually want. For example, executives opine that understanding key drivers of engagement would add most value to their business, but only 35% of HR respondents are able to provide such information. Other major talent analytics that were found lacking are metrics on team performance, which employees are likely to leave / stay, and conducting effective training. Here is where HR professionals can start undertaking steps to bridge this gap or implement predictive analytics to improve decision making in the organisation.


In order to stay ahead, HR professionals must adopt the latest HR trends. Start thinking long-term, such as building infrastructure and talent pool for tomorrow, implementing systems and solutions for the future, not as stopgap measures, as well as cultivating a workforce that is fluid enough to adapt to organisational changes. All these require HR professionals to be constantly aware of industry changes that will have long-lasting impact on the workforce, the organisation, be it operationally or culturally, and the way businesses are conducted.


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