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As we head into 2018, it’s hard not to forget about the social and political movements that have rocked our world to its core. New political tensions, increasing awareness of the value of diversity, a renewed spirit of protecting our natural resources, and exposing sexual harassment across multiple industries have forever changed the way we look at the world now

Much of this has impacted how employees experience the workplace -- in the way that people interact with each other, examine their personal values, and view this thing called a career. Moving into 2018, amid global talent shortages, it’s critical that human resources plans for success in vital efforts such as recruitment, engagement, and retention by acknowledging the importance of each employee’s experience. What’s ahead in terms of the influence of employee experience on long-term success?

Artificial Intelligence

Glassdoor’s Chief Economist, Dr. Andrew Chamberlain advises that artificial intelligence will play an increasing role in engaging with candidates and employees alike. He says, “Artificial intelligence has been a buzzword for decades, but it’s finally reaching a point where it’s beginning to have a tangible impact on businesses, specifically in HR.”

From candidate matching and sourcing applications to friendly chatbots guiding individuals online, AI is expected to be one of the biggest technology disruptors for 2018. However, Chamberlain warns that it’s no substitute for human recruitment practices, which includes plenty of transparency and communication about the hiring process.

Artificial Intelligence for HR

Employee Self-Service

Everywhere you look today, people prefer to do things on their own. We go to the bank drive through ATM, we order our lifestyle needs online and wait for the box to arrive, and we take courses all via the Internet. It only makes sense that in the year ahead, this independent way of doing things will continue with workplace applications that enable more employee self-service tasks.

There is already a push for more self-service employee tools in all HR arenas. From strategic onboarding and employee benefits enrollment, to training and offboarding efforts, streamlining paid time off efforts - employees are given more control over their career outcomes.

Strategic Onboarding

A huge part of each employee’s experience happens in the first 90 days of employment. In 2018, there will be an even bigger focus on streamlining and improving the onboarding process. Why is this important?

Bart Macdonald, Co-Founder and CEO of Sapling, says, “Boosting engagement, optimizing productivity, and increasing employee retention, [with] a strategic onboarding program sparks a new hire metamorphosis.” This plan must be clearly defined, consistent, and monitored to ensure that employees have the best possible experience.

Strategic Onboarding

Improving Employer Branding

The word on the street is that employer brand positioning will continue to be a primary move for many companies. Rampant talent shortages combined with a new generation of workers who are dazzled by smart branding (and easily recruited away from their current employers) are creating a need for better recruitment messaging. Much of this takes place on websites and social media networks, but there are many other avenues to consider, such as employer review websites and event marketing.

Professional Development

Care about your employees by offering professional development opportunities - even those in-house like a brown bag lunch series (do a simple survey to capture what topics employees would like to see). If a brown bag series would not fit into your culture put together a workshop series that can be done in-house, if you have the personnel or locate inexpensive opportunities offered by local community college, for example.

A subset of professional development opportunities is a look at Employee Development. Taking the time to sit down with employees to create a unique development plan is essential to showing that the organization cares. This is a practice that as HR you should train the Leadership team (down to supervisors) to effect with their frontline employees. Everyone in the ‘building’ regardless of their role should have a living - agreed upon - Employee Development plan (EDP). This doesn’t have to be an additional task, have it as part of a Employee Campaign where the team that gets the EDPs done the fastest (you’ll review them for rigor and realistic goals) gets a pizza party for lunch or whatever would motivate your organization. Make sure managers/team leaders are empowered to recognize employees for special contributions.

Professional Development

Increased Transparency

While we want to embrace it or not, transparency around companies HR processes and career opportunities has become huge. This connects closely with employer branding. According to an infographic produced by CareerArc, “55% of Job Seekers who have read a negative review have decided against applying for a position at that company.” Further, “95% of Employers believe employer brand protection will become more important in the next 5 years.”

Being transparent in all forms of communication will continue to provide the best return, with more companies moving some of their recruitment budget strictly to recruitment marketing. In this way, employers can have greater control over their brand and hopefully sway employees to leave positive reviews and share their testimonials in a more powerful way.

People Analytics Advance

We have seen a great deal of talk about the role that people analytics plays into the overall success of employees. It’s now possible to measure just about every aspect of human behavior and performance, thanks to advances in technology. HR Gazette advises, “2018 will witness a shift from companies merely producing data visualizations and HR reporting, to organizations providing real-time, actionable insights which support people processes and improve results.”

While there will always be a need for data, this will move into more real-time data applications that measure success as it happens. For example, employee engagement and performance tools that allow employees to rate their daily activities, their boss, and even their moods.

Training for Retention

Employee professional development will continue to take center stage for many organizations. This is part of a solution to retrain the workforce due to many skill shortages, rapid growth in the STEM sectors, and retention of top performance employees. It also helps to improve the employee experience because it demonstrates an investment in their career success.

According to the Brandon Hall Group’s 2016 Training Benchmarking Study, the spending for professional development by 2017 topped $17 million. Around one-third of the budget and decision-making process is owned by HR, and this can only be expected to continue in 2018. Human resource practitioners are in the unique position of being able to see the bigger picture of the talent development strategy as it aligns with corporate goals.

These factors towards building and improving the employee experience are already deeply entrenched in the culture of many leading organizations. As they set the bar high for others, it’s expected that others will follow in order to remain competitive in the recruitment scene.

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