Theme among today's HR trends: Know thy employees



Updated 6/19/2019 8:34 AM

Summer is finally here and 2019 is halfway behind us. 2019 is shaping up to be an interesting, yet extremely challenging year for employers. Concerns related to workplace violence, the impact of minimum wage increases as well as questions regarding recreational marijuana are keeping many business owners, organizational leaders and managers up at night. These current issues are additions to a long list of workplace trends that are regularly tracked by industry experts and trendwatchers. While the specific trend lists vary from author to author each year, there is a common theme that emerged in recent reports: "Know Thy Employees." To compete for talent now and in the future, employers need to carefully tune into what their current and prospective employees want, need, expect, or demand. Following you will find some critical "hot buttons" for talent that you need to be in tune with if you're not already.

Workplace flexibility


While the Millennials may have led the charge, workers of all ages have jumped on the bandwagon. Employers have had to become more open-minded about how, where, and when work gets done. While the old work-life balance conversation might be tired, a fluidity between work and life is increasingly the norm. With Baby Boomers deciding to stay in the workplace longer and Gen Z entering the job market, employers are going to continue to face a diverse array of talent, all looking to find flexibility that meets their own unique needs.


Most trend reports include predictions related to technology, from employee self-service to Artificial Intelligence (AI) to data privacy to wellness initiatives to learning and development. Today's employees expect their employers to keep pace with technology and incorporate it seamlessly into their work-life experience. Larger, global employers almost always lead the way in this arena, but each day more medium and small employers are finding ways to harness technology to improve organizational efficiencies, offer employee training, track critical information, handle employee requests, and promote internal communications.

Employee benefits

To better align benefit offerings with their entire employee population, employers will continue to expand time-off benefits. While there has often been a focus on maternity leave, employers are considering a wider array of benefits to stay competitive. Some benefit revisions will be driven by regulatory changes, but expanded offerings will also be in response to a realization that it is not only working mothers who are looking for these benefits. Expect to see more paid leave policies in addition to what is required under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Also, benefit experts predict that in the future, more employers will offer employees a "menu" of benefit choices instead of simply offering a one-size-fits-all plan. Putting the employee in the driver's seat to personalize their benefits and elect those of most value can boost employee retention.

Workplace culture

Due to the #MeToo movement, more employers than ever have provided their employees with anti-harassment training in the past few years. But a training program is not going to impact positive change if an organization's culture does not encourage respect and inclusion. Culture starts at the top and permeates every aspect of the employee experience. The link between culture and employee engagement is well-documented, and those employers who choose to ignore it will suffer the consequences including low morale, limited innovation, and high turnover.

Focus on the employee

It is crystal clear from these trends that employers need to keep their fingers on the pulse of their workforces in 2019. Other factors that are impacting employers' ability to compete for talent include low unemployment, digital disruption, the gig economy, generational differences, and a complex regulatory environment. The need to approach human resource issues strategically is more imperative than ever. By shining a spotlight on the employee, your organization's priorities and path to success will become clearer.

• Mary Lynn Fayoumi, CAE, SPHR, GPHR, SHRM-SCP is President and CEO of HR Source, an employers' association.

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