The way fads grow into established trends can either be gradual, incremental improvements or disruptive, game-changing innovations. While the former type is much easier to predict, the latter type tend to have a much larger, lasting impact. But one thing is for sure—learning & development and human resource managers will have a lot to learn and look forward to in 2016.
Data-driven people practices: HR is one of the central, strategic functions in an organisation, and HR leaders are increasingly being relied on to supply quantitative details on employee recruitment, performance, retention, etc. It is important for HR leaders to be supported by reliable, relevant data (often from multiple sources) to be able to give an accurate, holistic picture and take decisions. This information bolsters the capability of organisations to improve the overall employee experience to make it more consistent and meaningful. The rise of the cloud has led to a host of plug-and-play technological solutions and software attempting to help HR to accomplish this purpose, and the success will depend on how well they are leveraged. The year 2016 promises to be the one when tools such as digital assessments, retention analytics, predictive learning systems and gamification will become a crucial part of HR manager’s arsenal.
Diversity: An upcoming Dale Carnegie whitepaper on Gender Differences in Employee Engagement in India shows that while just 39% of women are fully engaged in their work, male employees were more motivated comparatively, with 50% feeling engaged. In fact, the engagement levels for women in India were below the overall India benchmark of 46% as well. Indian corporates seem to have awoken to this fact and the numbers of women-friendly HR practices have been rising consistently—in one of the most welcome developments of 2015. From making it easier for women who had taken a break to rejoin the workforce to mandating that women be represented on company boards, corporate India started a push to increase diversity throughout the organisation. Although it was a slow start, it indicated that 2016 might move beyond mere tokenism to see more of this enlightened trend in the form of women empowerment workshops and executive coaching for women leaders.
Employee engagement and retention: While these have always been crucial areas for HR, research by Dale Carnegie Training and other leading brands has established that there are key drivers for employee engagement that differ between countries and cultures. But more pertinent for the coming year is the fact that an increasing number of organisations will be assessing their workforce for company-specific employee engagement insights. Now, more than ever—in a world with increasing transparency and the reach afforded by social media—brands are looking to give their employees a larger purpose and a value proposition that resonates with them. These employee engagement interventions help companies understand where they stand and benchmark themselves with other organisations, industries and regions.
Communication: Technology has changed the way we interact, network and collaborate within the organisational structure. Moreover, the very nature of employment has undergone a seismic shift with more work-from-home, freelancers, intrapreneurs and part-time workers on the rise. The ease with which we connect with each other can make us forget how vulnerable we would be if our data was breached. The recent hack in various government organisations and companies around the world reinforces the importance of sticking to professional, business communication and etiquette. In the coming year, HR will be even more focused on setting up business communication standards and making sure that each employee follows these protocols.
The future of work looks vastly different from what is was even a couple of years ago. Technology has given companies great power and flexibility to build complex, mobile workforces. It has increased the number of career options available and how people are able to take advantage of them. Companies today are more open than ever to helping employees build more accommodating work lives and HR will be at the forefront of these exciting developments in 2016.
By Pallavi Jha
The author is chairperson & managing director, Dale Carnegie Training India