One of the major trends in HR now is the drive for efficiency through technology. HR information systems continue to develop and become more sophisticated, employee engagement tools such as “pulse surveys”, access to digital learning, and the use of technology to process data are all bringing efficiencies to HR as well as the wider business community.
For businesses, the key stumbling block is finding the right technology for their particular needs amongst the wide range of technology now available, and that which is coming on-line in the near future. Those HR teams and organisations which successfully implement technological opportunities will benefit from increased productivity and enhanced employee engagement, and this trend will continue into 2019 as more mobile applications become available.
Employee welfare, in 2018 we talked, next year we’ll do (or at least start to)
For the last few years, awareness of mental health issues in the workplace has increased, with multiple reports and recommendations constantly being released to emphasise the importance of taking employee welfare seriously, such as the independent report, “Thriving at Work” released in October 2017. This reported noted that around 15% of people at work have symptoms of some form of mental illness, with around 300,000 (1% of the UK workforce) with a long-term mental health problem losing their job each year. A drop-out rate for this reason is problematic for any economy. That’s why in 2019 and beyond, we predict that the government will start to intervene into mental health issues in the workplace and start to put actual pressure on businesses to take more practical strides towards improving employee welfare.
Plug the gap
The struggle for businesses to find the right talent has been recognised for some time and shows no sign of improving. The CBI has commented that the size of the UK workforce is shrinking as the number of vacancies for skills is growing. Brexit is possibly playing a part, as recent Office for National Statistics figures in August 2018 showed the largest fall in EU nationals working in the UK since these statistics started to be recorded in 1997. HR has an important role to play in helping a business prepare for life post-Brexit and keep employees engaged and to attract new employees in a more difficult market.
The Bank of England Inflation Report published in August 2018, states that by late 2019 the demand for labour will outstrip the available supply. Whilst wage growth has been weak, it is now becoming stronger as businesses find it more difficult to find quality, skilled candidates, and will continue to be so as the availability of labour tightens.
Companies are increasingly reviewing benefits packages to retain and attract new talent, but also are becoming more aware of the aspirations of younger employees, for work-life balance and other factors when deciding to join an organisation. Increasingly, young people are not just looking at salary and benefits, but also, and equally importantly, they want to see opportunities for training and personal growth, flexibility at work and a company culture which will satisfy those needs. Adapting to changing expectations will be the challenge for employers throughout 2019 – engaged employees with a broad range of benefits will be more productive, and will stay longer. More motivated employees will allow businesses to be adaptable to changing markets at a time of great uncertainty as the UK moves into the post-Brexit environment.