The Top 5 HR Trends to Watch in 2012

2 Jan

The Top 5 HR Trends to Watch in 2012As we close the books on 2011, many businesses are looking at strategies and tactics for the new year. Given recent waves of market uncertainty, this year poses a unique challenge for decision-makers and C-level executives. While there are numerous financial considerations ranging from healthcare compliance to tepid consumer confidence, human resource managers have been forced to align their practices with the evolving global economy.

With these considerations in mind, here are my five top HR trends to look for in 2012.

1. Succession Planning

With an aging U.S. workforce and an anemic job market, HR teams will need to develop strategies to help mitigate employee turnover and assuage executive departures. A Mercer survey released late last year found roughly one-third of U.S. workers are considering leaving their jobs, with younger workers more likely to quit.

The Mercer study pointed out that workers are feeling less attached to their organizations, both emotionally and psychologically. They don’t necessarily believe that the organization they work for has their interests in mind.

On top of low employee morale, the aging baby boomer generation will present even more challenges to HR managers. For these reasons, succession planning for leadership and high-skills professionals will be extremely important in 2012. Have you thought about how you could quickly replace certain positions at your company?

2. Social Media

While its role within the realm of marketing and customer service has been clear, social media has been more of an enigma to many HR professionals. Problematic workplace issues can arise when employees engage in social media without a formal company policy in place. For example, they may divulge trade secrets, violate confidentiality, or lessen their productivity.

The National Labor Review Board also ruled on a few cases this year regarding the role of social media in the workplace. Generally, the NLRB sided with employees and their freedom to post content without fear of work-related repercussions. However, savvy HR managers will tap the considerable benefits of a workplace social media strategy to engage employees.

3. Human Resources Technology

HR management systems and related technologies help boost efficiency and increase productivity in areas such as payroll compliance, employee scheduling, data management, recruiting, and security.

With a variety of budgetary, hiring, and regulatory constraints looming in 2012, HR managers and executives are apt to be overwhelmed. Demand will rise for HR technologies that help to allay these burdens.

 4. Aligning HR and Corporate Goals for Increased ROEI

In an uncertain business climate like today, HR mangers are consistently being asked to explain the costs and benefits of employee-related programs and benefits, their Return On Employee Investment or ROEI. But this is not readily quantified. Relative to other business units, HR departments cannot point to costs and revenues as a measure of effectiveness. This is a problem for HR managers. One evolving solution is “strategic alignment,” using HR metrics as appropriate. 

In broad terms, strategic alignment means using HR processes to align business units and individual employees with the strategic goals identified by senior management. For example, management needs clear, direct, and constant communication with employees to implement strategies. More specifically, it means that HR managers modify traditional HR processes—recruiting and hiring, employee retention and development, and compensation—to implement the strategies developed by senior management.

Human resource departments that align their goals with their organization’s goals will accomplish more and increase their productivity in 2012.

5. Healthcare Reform

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will continue to be implemented in 2012, and it will impose new compliance burdens each year until 2018. While the law is likely to remain mostly intact, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to make a monumental ruling on its constitutionality this summer.

Either way, HR managers will likely need to collaborate with other departments to address healthcare compliance standards. A recent Towers Watson survey found 38 percent of finance executives believe strategy development will be more of a shared role, compared to 24 percent among HR leaders.

Companies are only beginning to address the complex decisions triggered by healthcare, says Towers Watson. But these decisions will have a direct impact on the broader set of employee rewards.

So there you have it, my five key human resources trends to watch in 2012. I’d love to know what you think. Comment below or let me know on Twitter by replying to @SageHRMS!


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