2018 was an interesting year for human resources and benefits administration. Several new and exciting trends emerged while technology continued to grow in the areas of artificial intelligence, decision support and more. What do these changes and trends mean for HR professionals and teams in 2019?
In this edition of ‘Ask The Industry’, we spoke with HR experts from across the nation on what their top predictions are for the upcoming year. Here’s what they had to say…
“HR professionals should be paying attention to the trend of remote workers. There are more workers wanting to work from home or a shared workspace. Employers need to be thinking about how their policies address confidentiality when a worker is sharing a workspace with others. Also, working remotely can create wage and hour issues, as well as workers compensation questions.”
Nate Masterson, HR Manager at Maple Holistics
“Artificial intelligence is going to take over – Robotics and AI are opening up new doors for HR. There is software that can now identify gender, identify mood based on voices, and identify education level based on decoding video interviews. Artificial intelligence can also tell if a person is lying and assess their cognitive ability based on the video interview.”
Steven Auerbach, CEO of Alegeus
“Full 365-day support will help to demystify benefits. Open enrollment season will come and go, but this no longer means that conversations around benefits will stop, and it’s critical that consumers truly understand the value of each type of benefit account.”
Brent Wilkinson, CEO of Zillion
“In 2019, we’ll see personalized engagement become even more precise, with wellness programs that take individuals’ data and present care, coaching, and health and wellness recommendations that precisely addresses their set of conditions and their lifestyle. Instead of offering a canned set of content that fits a broad solution to a health symptom, it is important to understand the individual and their specific motivations, with solutions that are particular to their lifestyle in small, manageable steps.”
“One trend I see increasing is the addition of student loan repayments to employee benefits. My clients tend to be on a smaller scale, so not all can afford to match large firm salary packages. What they do instead is offer a benefit that many workers struggle to balance: student debt and retirement planning.
One of my client’s companies, to help employees plan and encourage debt relief, employees who contributed at least 0.5% of their salary to debt relief would receive a 2% match in their retirement plan, in addition to an already existing retirement matching plan. I think we will see the increase of such nontraditional benefits in 2019.”
Neil Hooper, CRO at STOPit Solutions
“Anonymous reporting technology gives employees the power to speak up and ask for help with issues like sexual harassment without any fear of reprisal. More and more companies are taking a proactive approach to empowering employees in the workplace so they can be more productive, safer and happier — and mobile app technologies are quickly becoming a solution of choice to power opportunities and solve problems.”
Robin Schwartz, PHRHR Director at Career Igniter
“The employee’s share of health insurance continues to rise in 2019, which is pushing employers to offer alternate options. High-deductible health plans and telemedicine options are becoming more popular with large employers. Employees want to be able to choose plans that work for their lifestyle and financial fitness.”
“Employee relations will be an area of significant growth in 2019 with 43% of organizations we recently surveyed, expected to increase the number of full-time employee relations professionals. No doubt this, at least in part, reflects the widespread increase in the number of issues related to #MeToo over the past 18 months and the toll it is already taking on internal resources. The professionals we spoke to repeatedly cited caseload volume as one of their biggest challenges, so adding team members may help prevent burn out.”
Lauren Milligan, Outplacement and Career Advancement Specialist at ResuMAYDAY
“More companies will offer service-based benefits, such as a subscription to LifeLock, or other internet security/identity security programs. I also predict that companies will offer programs that encourage employee retention, such as cross-training and job shadowing, so their younger employees won’t feel the need to leave the company in a year or two after being hired.”
Alexander Sergeev, CEO at Hygger
“Investing in team members education is a current trend and it’s going to be relevant in the future. Participation in conferences, forums, and industry events will be required for everyone who wants to be a successful team player.”
Suzanne Ourada, Chief Human Resources Officer at Solutran
“More employees are seeking companies who offer total rewards programs that support a healthier lifestyle. At Solutran, we offer instant-gratification healthy eating incentives like Healthy Savings to help our employees eat better and stay healthier. In addition, we’ve shifted our rewards spending away from giving gift cards to providing incentives and rewards that can be directed towards healthier products or away from unhealthy products, and allows us to retain unused funding and apply it to future rewards.”
“I hope we continue to see a shift toward employee life balance (work-life balance as some call it). With the current trend of more and more remote employees, it is important that employers focus on preventing burnout and work to implement policies and benefits that protect employee’s personal life by creating lines and a balance for them.
Remote employees are more likely to work longer hours with fewer breaks, distractions and social interactions which can isolate and burn them out quickly. There could be very negative social, mental, and physical impacts to the remote workforce if we aren’t acting proactively and looking out for our employees.”
Janine M. Walter, Chief Talent Officer at EPIC Insurance Brokers and Consultants
“We work in an environment where employees are always ‘plugged in’, blurring the lines between work time and time off. I believe we will see more and more emphasis on programs that allow an employee the flexibility and time they need to balance home and office demands. This will accelerate with a strong job market as we see an increase in remote work arrangements and unlimited vacation programs marketed as a way to attract talent.”
Janet Dulohery, Head of Human Resources at SE2
“Former CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch, popularized the concept of reverse mentoring. He paired 500 senior and junior employees together to help bridge the generational divide, especially around disruptive technology advances and tools. Organizations need to understand how to lead and manage across multiple generations. The divide between Millennials and now Generation Z from Baby Boomers is significant. Pairing a Millennial with a more senior leader can help the organization understand the intersection between generations and organizational culture.”
“Every year, as the adoption and use of technology continues to spread across the HR industry, we read about AI and automation being things which are coming down the pipeline and revolutionizing the HR industry. I’m not so certain that this is change anymore but more of a constant – keep up with and adopt HR technology into your organization and your jobs.
That said, what I feel like HR needs to focus on in 2019 is how to make this technology matter. HR needs to continue to focus on building and maintain relationships across the organization with leaders, managers, and the employee population. Tech will continue to be there, but strengthening connections with the people you support is going to help you as an HR professional know what the right tech your organization needs and how to use it to provide the support your people need.”