“Be Prepared” is the well-known motto of scouting organizations across the world and may well apply to professionals preparing for the future in 2017. Although business leaders make a note of projections for the New Year and prepare for the future, they can end up focusing more on minor or specific trends instead of looking at the bigger picture. Therefore to avoid having a restricted outlook, business owners should also search for information that draws particular attention to unexpected issues that could arise during 2017-18 and be ready for such eventualities. Established talent management programs and budgets would require reassessment should any of the next surprises materialize.
Firstly, should there be a significant downturn in the economy, do you have a plan in place? You need to pay heed to the present combination of political and economic uncertainty which is sure to continue, as this situation reduces both business investment and ultimately growth. In most major industrial countries that include China and Southeast Asia, Europe and the Middle East, circumstances may even deteriorate. With a new president in office who intends to give commerce a shake-up, it would be advisable to prepare for uncertainty related to all aspects of the trade.
About the management of talent, the possibility of an economic slump means that a strategy must be in place to cope with sluggish hiring. On a more positive note, a reduction in hiring will help relieve a dearth of available talent, leading to fewer problems associated with retention and recruiting. Moderate growth also means that managers of talent will need to plan for more productivity from a workforce, while at the same time trimming labor costs. Additionally, it must be borne in mind that because some areas in the world are growing at different rates, a talent management scheme must not only have the ability to handle reduced costs and growth simultaneously but in different geographic regions.
Secondly, the location of work could become a huge problem because, for many years, decisions concerning places where physical work should be carried out have been based mainly on economic reasons. As a result of more political challenges facing free trade and work being relocated offshore, it will be necessary for HR to plan for possible political reactions and tax implications regarding the decision as to which sites should be selected for work. If the U.S. sees more manufacturing returning to the region, hiring managers will have to be prepared to search for the required experienced production and manufacturing talent that is already thin on the ground.
Another hurdle to overcome is the progression of automation, a threat that creates fluctuating unrest amongst employees. Although it may not be the primary focus of talent recruitment, there is already a significant move towards technology substituting employees in the U.S. Due to the country’s high labor costs, a reliance on robotics is one of the few options to encourage a return of manufacturing work to the U.S. However, shock waves are going to ripple through large groups of drivers, customer service, and production staff when they become aware of the fact that automation offers no job protection. The real fear of job losses will only sink in once as many as half a staff complement come to realize that their jobs will disappear, not only in this sector but at all businesses. Once employees become aware of the severity of the situation, the resultant level and intensity of unrest and re-unionization will be tough for HR personnel to deal with. Resistance to automation will be top of the list of issues for HR talent over the next few years, yet not many in HR are even aware of this imminent crisis.
When it comes to diversity, it has over the years been mainly an issue of compliance, becoming more of a business imperative rather than an HR matter. Research by Deloitte reveals that “building an inclusive culture is now the No.1 predictive strategy for global financial performance.” Once executives recognize that diversity has been undervalued, it will become crucial for business. Strategically this means that methods used by HR for diversity recruitment and retention will have to change significantly from current procedures to an approach that is data-driven. Data is already showing that systems presently in use have a negative impact on diversity and that market research will be necessary to establish more efficient ways of recruiting prospects in the many categories of difference. This particular research data will show that each section has individual job attraction determinants and approaches to job searches. Also, once jobs have been filled with different workers, it will be necessary to gather data to reveal which of those jobs have the highest bottom-line impact.
Apart from changes already mentioned, HR teams need to be prepared for further significant changes to their internal operations. Data collected by Google over several years have proved that many established HR practices are unsuccessful. Recruiters are in for a similar shock once-dominant firms complete their transition to a talent management program that is data-driven. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that as people in business start taking over the function of talent management and HR moves into a more professional and data-driven environment, the overall structure of HR will have to go with the times to reflect those changes. New HR employees will have to possess qualifications in finance, data, and technology, as well as experience in the business.
With technology as a dominating factor in HR, more than half of transactions and other work will be executed by software or chatbots, causing a shift towards an internal consulting model. Managers will be briefed by consultants on strategic talent, productivity and innovation issues. It is, however, a pity that many of those currently employed in HR will be unable to make the transition. The general picture of college recruiting is also starting to change to a great extent. With advances in technology, social media, and the Internet, the remote college recruitment model adopted by Goldman Sachs and Nestle Purina will become the benchmark. With Brexit, President Trump’s new vision and developing technology replacing employees, the likelihood of more dramatic surprises in 2017 could be on the horizon.