HR departments are set to face many new challenges in 2018, from the technological to the traditional. Among the most significant will be the incoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the new obligation to report gender pay gaps, while increasing adoption of digital technologies could see long-established norms upended.
What will businesses find themselves dealing with this year and how can they ensure they are keeping their workers happy and engaged?
An increasing focus on digital and AI
HR tech is likely going to feature in more boardroom discussions as the sector - and the broader business world - witnesses an increasing focus on digital. Technology that aids in talent acquisition and talent management will become more established and, therefore, more widely adopted by businesses around the world.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is set to be among the most important technological developments to affect the HR field in 2018. A recent survey by Bersin by Deloitte found that 38 percent of respondents believe that AI and robotics will be “fully implemented” in their organisations within five years.
Companies will begin to incorporate AI to automate screening processes, which could have the effect of reducing bias - conscious or unconscious - within recruitment. This is because AI can learn the traits of a successful employee and look for those in applicants, resulting in candidates being chosen due to experience and skills, rather than any other factor.
Automated bots will also begin to shape the workplace. This technology will enable chatbots to help employees with simple requests, leaving HR departments free to tackle more important issues.
More attention paid to employee well-being
Employee well-being has been steadily rising in importance over the last few years. Businesses looking to hire top talent are increasingly relying on their health and wellbeing policies to make them more appealing.
In 2018, organisations are likely going to realise the importance that health and well-being plays in employee performance. According to Digitalist Magazine, “companies need employees to be highly engaged, creative, and service-oriented. But this is impossible to do if employees are tired, stressed, and distracted”.
Consumer well-being technology - including fitness trackers and other health-focused wearables - is set to be adopted by more companies in 2018 as its value is recognised. However, a lack of technology is also likely to be encouraged by businesses. This year, more employers will start to advocate that their workers switch off from their technology when not at work to avoid potential burnout.
Organisations looking to improve their health and wellbeing schemes, but without the financial resources to provide medical insurance policies, will embrace their creativity. More companies will begin to offer days off for charity work, free healthy snacks and financial counselling sessions in order to increase employee engagement, positivity and performance.
Gender pay gap reporting
In the wake of a high-profile resignation over the BBC’s gender pay gap, gender pay gap reporting is already one of the biggest issues facing HR departments in 2018. Businesses with at least 250 employees are going to be required to report on their gender pay gaps by April 4th of this year.
This means that 2018 could see some uncomfortable discussions between HR managers and disgruntled employees. In this case, it is advisable to ensure that once you have the results of your gender pay gap study, you establish a plan for tackling it - if it exists.
Businesses will have to make sure that what they tell employees is aligned with any external messages they send. This is because gender pay gaps are being published, which could lead to some employees seeing the results before being informed by their employers. All information provided must therefore be consistent.
Remaining open and honest about the issue is the best way for organisations to deal with any potential pay gap problems in 2018.
GDPR to come into force
From May 25th 2018, businesses around the world will have to deal with the GDPR, which was implemented by the EU to strengthen and unify data protection for individuals within the bloc, as well as address the exporting of personal data outside the EU.
According to UK law firm Shoosmiths, the GDPR “is set to present a new legal burden” for HR. The firm explained that “regulatory fines under the GDPR are set to increase well beyond the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) current enforcement ceiling”, which will lead to “a fundamental shift in risk profile for UK organisations”.
At present, employers can gain consent to process employee data simply by including a clause in their contracts. However, the incoming GDPR will have an impact on the way businesses gain consent. Christine Young, an employment partner at Herbert Smith Freehills, told the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s People Management magazine that “consent now needs to be explicit, informed and given – and that means you can’t just put it at the back of an employment contract”.
As well as consent, HR managers will have to deal with issues surrounding information they hold on employees, subject access requests and the ‘right to be forgotten’. Ensuring their businesses are GDPR-compliant will keep many HR managers busy in the coming year.
In 2018, HR managers are going to see a raft of changes and new challenges. Preparation, transparency and creativity will be key to overcoming them and making sure their organisations flourish in the new year.
Posted by Jon Aspinell on 10th January 2018
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