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Top 6 HR and payroll trends to watch for in 2017

2016 was a busy year for the 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 to achieve greater results by strengthening employee engagement, freelancing, leveraging big data and analytics, and preparing for the future of HR.

It’s all about the people! Focus on employee engagement

Employee engagement is an area for HR professionals to own in 2017. Every employer wants to be at the top of “best places to work” list in their industry, but sometimes it seems as if the same companies always remain on the top.  Focus on your employees’ needs. This can range from their growth and development, to benefits, to the physical work environment. Employees want to feel like a key contributor to the organization, challenged and supported every day by managers and colleagues. Employee engagement is a time-intensive activity involving all areas of the business, most companies aren’t ready to focus on this imperative aspect of HR.

SHRM recently released its annual 2016 SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey, which showed that 36 percent of organizations cite employee retention as a top workforce management challenge. In order to shift the focus on employee engagement, HR departments need to 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.

The “gig” economy is expected to boom

2017 is expected to have the largest freelance workforce with over 40 percent of employees around the United States holding a contract job.  Economic changes, technology advancements, employee dissatisfaction, corporate downsizing, talent-matching platforms, and co-working all contribute to a booming freelance economy. Freelancers (“gig” workers) are no longer simply considered “temps” as they used to be. They often have specific skills that are of high value to employers.

LinkedIn just launched a service called LinkedIn Pro-Finder that will help you find freelancers or independent contractors to hire in your area.  Other resources include Upwork, Toptal, and SimplyHired.

AI (Artificial Intelligence) will transform the workplace

By 2020, the industry as we know it today is will change due to technology advancements like AI (Artificial Intelligence). AI will start to automate daily tasks and help streamline operations. We recently discussed how you can start preparing today by conducting a brand audit of your company’s long-term goals, assessing your hiring needs for the future, and developing a budget for implementing new technologies.

With the rise of “Internet of Things” and enchanted devices impacting the workplace, you will have access to new employee data. The new resources available by 2020 will allow you to recruit more superstar employees, strengthen employee engagement, save time, and money.

A new way of thinking about performance reviews

A Deloitte survey revealed that 70 percent of executives are reevaluating their performance review process. Many companies are doing away with the annual performance review model because they are finding it lowers employee engagement rates and takes up time. Companies that are getting rid of the annual review model are replacing it with skills development programs held throughout the year.

In 2015, global consulting firm Accenture eliminated the annual performance review model and shifted to an immediate performance review process by creating an internal communications app that allows employees to receive instant feedback.

“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” said Accenture CEO Pierre Nanterme in a Washington Post article.

A deeper dive into big data and people analytics

The hot topic to focus on in 2017 is big data and people analytics.  Deloitte recently reported that 77 percent of top global organizations think people analytics is a critical area of importance. Many organizations are beginning to collect data to identify trends in recruitment and find solutions to areas that are in need of improvement. People analytics has been an area of HR that has been neglected by many organizations. In 2017, you’ll start to see top organizations hire more VP of People Analytics and build out analytical teams.

The social savvy workplace

More than 67% of companies reported that their employees regularly use social media while at work. With new platforms like Facebook Workplace, a platform that allows colleagues to communicate with each other online while at work more companies will shift toward a social savvy workplace. Making your workplace a social-media friendly environment helps your employees serve as advocates for your brand.

At Sage, we have a social media employee advocacy program and encourage employees to use the hashtag #lifeatsage when talking about life in the workplace. Sage has a social media portal that allows its employees to amplify our company events, online content, and news about our company by sharing information on their social media networks. We can expect to see more companies roll out social media employee advocacy programs in 2017.

The new year is going to be a great year for the HR and payroll industry. These new trends will benefit your organization by ensuring that you are building a people-driven organization.