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Sage Enterprise Blog


Top 6 HR and payroll trends to watch in 2017

07 March 2017

2016 was a busy year for the Australian HR and payroll industry and we predict 2017 will be the same. Curious about what’s to come?

In 2017, payroll and HR professionals should expect greater results by strengthening employee engagement, hiring freelancers, leveraging big data and analytics, and preparing for the future of HR.


1. It’s all about people! Focus on employee engagement.

Employee engagement is an area HR professionals can own in 2017. Every employer wants to top their industry’s “best places to work” list, but it seems like the same companies always remain on top. Focus on your employees’ needs. This can range from their growth and development, to benefits and physical work environment. Employees want to feel like key contributors who are challenged and supported by managers and colleagues.

In its 2015 survey, the Australian HR Institute reveals 47 percent of Australian organisations believe turnover in their workplace is too high. To shift focus onto employee engagement, HR departments must work with executive leaders to create better work cultures, improve retention rates, build new wellness and benefits programs, implement new technologies, and empower their workforce. 

2. The “gig” economy is expected to boom


2017 will likely see further growth in Australia’s freelance workforce, which currently accounts for 30 percent of Australian workers. Economic changes, technology advancements, employee dissatisfaction, corporate downsizing, talent-matching platforms, and co-working are all contributing to a booming freelance economy. Freelancers (or “gig” workers) are no longer just considered “temps”. They often have specific skills of high value to employers. Popular resources to help you find freelancers include the recently launched LinkedIn Pro-Finder, Upwork and Toptal.

3. AI (Artificial Intelligence) will transform the workplace


By 2020, the HR and payroll industry as we know it today will change due to technology advancements. AI will automate daily tasks and streamline operations, while the ‘Internet of Things’ and enchanted devices will give you access to new employee data. The technology available by 2020 will allow you to recruit more superstar employees, strengthen employee engagement, save time, and money. 

4. A new way of thinking about performance reviews


A recent Deloitte survey reveals 70 percent of executives are re-evaluating their performance review process. Many companies who are finding the review process time consuming and impacting negatively on employee engagement, are actively replacing the annual performance review model with skill development programs held throughout the year. 

In 2015, global consulting firm Accenture eliminated the annual performance review model, adopting instead a performance review process where employees receive instant feedback via an app. In an interview with the Washington Post, Accenture CEO Pierre Nanterme provided a rationale for the company’s move to embrace instant performance reviews:

“Performance is an ongoing activity. It’s every day, after any client interaction or business interaction or corporate interaction. It’s much more fluid. People want to know on an ongoing basis, am I doing right? Am I moving in the right direction? Do you think I’m progressing? Nobody’s going to wait for an annual cycle to get that feedback. Now it’s all about instant performance management,” he said.

5. A deeper dive into big data and people analytics

The hot topic of 2017 is big data and people analytics. Deloitte reports 77 percent of top global organisations consider people analytics critically important. Many organisations are beginning to collect data to identify recruitment trends and solve HR problems. However, people analytics is an area of HR neglected by many. In 2017, you’ll start to see top organisations hire more VPs of People Analytics and build analytics teams.    

6. The social savvy workplace

Studies reveal 35 percent of Australians use social media at work – the second most common location after home. With new platforms like Facebook Workplace, more companies will shift toward a social savvy workplace.

Making your workplace social-media friendly helps employees serve as your brand advocates. At Sage, we have a social media advocacy program for our employees and encourage them to use the hashtag #lifeatsage. We also have a social media portal that allows our employees to share Sage events, content, and news. We can expect more companies to roll out social media advocacy programs this year. 


2017 will be a great year for the HR and payroll industry. By embracing these trends, you can help build a much more people-centric organisation focused on driving performance.