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Posted: November 18, 2013

HR trends to watch in 2014

The rise of the millenial leader is upon us

Pat Greer

Many human resources trends have occurred over the past decade: more online recruiting, change in expectations of HR professionals, a shift toward millennial employees, and the rise of technology. Think about it -- the iPhone didn’t even exist 10 years ago! With all of the typical changes businesses encounter day-to-day and year-to-year, they’ve also had to contend with a fluctuating economy in the last several years within an even more connected global economy.

This has led to some interesting, not to mention challenging times for HR professionals. From the loss of laid-off colleagues, flat salaries, and changes in health care to employee concerns and the need to develop and implement employee engagement strategies, HR has had to persevere through uncertain times.

Looking at the past can help inform the future, and it’s a good time to look at the trends coming our way in 2014. How will advances in technology impact the business world and HR processes? How will the rise of a global marketplace change the way people are hired? How will the need for more diverse and skilled workers affect the hiring process? Here are some HR trends to consider as we move into the new year.

Business Partners

Together, HR professionals and management can work in conjunction to deliver innovative solutions to the challenges facing companies across the board. Solving complex problems, communicating with stakeholders, and creating productive processes are all tactics just part of the skillset of HR professionals—making the partnership with leadership a win-win.

As business growth becomes a top priority for organizations across the country and the globe, HR leaders will be expected to partner with senior leadership at companies to devise and implement strategic plans dealing with an effective growth, retention, engagement, and total compensation. Working together from the beginning to define strategic values and develop innovation initiatives will help create a more agile organization, as HR becomes more integrated within the business function. In many organizations, the HR function “is still holding onto traditional siloed processes and inefficient approaches,” according to a report from SHRM. It goes on to explain that effective HR management will be achieved through “optimum deployment of people to do the work that needs to be done in order for the organization to thrive.”

Technology Takes Over

We’re accustomed to hearing about big data, cloud computing, and mobile apps—but how will that impact you individually as a business leader or HR professional? Hopefully, it makes your job a bit easier. While there is training and education needed to excel in new technologies, at the core these new tools are designed and developed to make companies more efficient and effective organizations. Expect more cloud computing for storing HR data. Mobile tools will become more popular at every level of the organization, helping to increase productivity and efficiencies. The other technological piece you can anticipate will be virtual workplaces—taking collaboration, communication, and innovation to the next level: a global one.

Employee Engagement in the Workplace

Employees expect a certain level of recognition within an organization, whether it is for a job well done on a project or for major milestones at the company. Recognition is the first step towards employee engagement, beginning at the start of an employee’s career.  Accelir’s 2014 Trends Report asserts that a shift toward early recognition is imminent, meaning employers should start recognizing employees as early as one year into a job. Employee engagement consists of meaningful work, support, tools, and wellbeing in the job: physical, emotional, and social according to SHRM’s Top 5 trends report. Gallup reports that organizations with engaged employees had 3.9 times larger earnings per share; Best Buy found each small increase in employee engagement led to a large increase of both sales and customer satisfaction. Employee engagement creates a dedicated and involved work force—something all organizations strive for.

Analytics in Action

How can human resources and businesses improve decision-making and organizational processes? The answer: data. But the next question is how do you sort through it? For that we turn to analytics, the next big “must” on our list of skills within HR. There are so many ways to collect, analyze, and report on data, and it’s key to have software analytics and tools to do this complicated work. Once you sort through the heaps of data and find what’s relevant, leadership and HR can see what’s going on throughout the organization and make more informed decisions. This shift toward data-driven decision-making is what can separate a good HR department from a great HR department.

Going Global

With each election, world event, software implementation, or restructuring comes a new challenge for HR professionals, as the world becomes smaller via 21st century practices, corporate objectives, and communication avenues. Understanding all aspects of the "globalization" of functions has become essential at all levels of an organization, but particularly in HR. Moving into 2014, we except “going global” to become more commonplace as professionals face the challenges of hiring, marketing, technology, management, and finance at the international level. From varying leadership models to processes for global human resource functioning, the professionals in the HR field will need to work with business leaders to create and apply HR solutions to the global market.

Hiring Millennials

The rise of the millennial leader is upon us, and while each generation shares some common qualities, there are a few characteristics that make millennials stand out when it comes to getting hired. Besides their penchant for technology, the upcoming crop of millennial employees is more global in their thinking, more invested in relationship building, and more willing to be flexible within the workplace; knowing these values, plus the many other traits held by millennials such as having passion, believing in accountability, and being achievement driven, will help HR professionals as they seek out productive employees to fill new roles. This has evolved thanks to the latest need of appealing to the millennial generation. The youngest group of workers does not anticipate staying in a job for more than three years, according to Forbes. Even with a reduced tenure within an organization, it’s still valuable to reward service and acknowledge the efforts of employees—new and long-term.

As can be seen by this short exploration, HR professionals have many challenges to consider during these rocky times. One solution is to continue the path of being a lifelong learner, either through local or national HR associations or going back for formal education. The University of Denver’s college of professional and continuing studies, University College, offers strategic HR master’s degrees, graduate certificates, or individual courses that will help retool and reenergize you for the challenges ahead!

(Editor's note: This paid content is supplied by the University of Denver's University College.)

Pat Greer is the academic director of the Strategic Human Resource Management program at University College, the college of professional and continuing studies at the University of Denver.

Refresh or add skills with a graduate certificate or earn a master’s degree in one of the following concentrations in the Strategic Human Resource Management program:

Global Human Resources
Human Resource Management and Development

Our 10-week courses are available online or on campus in the evenings at the University of Denver. Start in January!

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