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16 HR Trends You Need to Know in 2020 (According to Experts)

Technology is the driving force behind many of 2020’s HR trends, but updated recruitment methods and a focus on experience will also define human resources operations this year.

Posted by Ann Snook on March 25th, 2020

As technology advances and best practices change, so does the face of human resources. If you want to work efficiently while recruiting strong candidates and retaining good employees, you need to keep up with the latest innovations.

This article details 16 of the year’s biggest technological, employee-based and recruitment HR trends, according to experts.

 

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Contents

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Technological HR Trends

 

1. Using Artificial Intelligence

 

Nearly every industry uses artifical intelligence (AI) to simplify its processes. Human resources is no different. One of 2020’s HR trends is incorporating more AI tools into everyday operations for better efficiency and workflow.

“For most companies, their first implementation of AI based HR tools is in talent acquisition,” explains Deepti Chopra, Co-founder of Adaface. “Companies that embrace AI will see significant reduction in time-to-hire, and measurable improvement in the candidate experience.” For example, using chatbots to correspond with candidates would free up hours of your time each week.

HR professionals can also use AI to:

  • Verify experience and education listed on candidates’ resumes
  • Spot behaviors that indicate an employee wants to leave the company
  • Manage employee performance
  • Answer employees’ HR questions
  • Customize suggestions for career paths, professional development options, etc. for each employee
  • Detect anomalies in behavior that could indicate time theft, corruption or other misconduct

 

2. More Remote Employees

 

4.7 million people work remotely in the US, and that number has increased exponentially due to the outbreak of COVID-19. With so many people working from home, HR departments face a unique set of challenges. For instance, how do you:

  • make employees feel a sense of company community?
  • manage employee productivity and morale?
  • operate when employees are located in different time zones?
  • investigate concerns and complaints when you don’t see the people in-person?

 

Remote work does have some upsides. HR manager Stephanie Lane says that it “allows flexibility for employee scheduling, and it also expands the pool of talent which a company can hire from.” Employees with no commute and more flexible hours are often more productive, too.

In addition, employers save money with a remote staff. Fewer in-office employees means:

  • Fewer perks (e.g. snack closet, coffee machine, parking spots)
  • Smaller offices with less overhead
  • Fewer office supplies to buy

 

RELATED: Employees Working Remotely? Beware of These 6 HR Issues

 

3. Organizing Virtual Team Building

 

With employees located in different cities, states and countries, you can’t rely on traditional team building activities. HR professionals have to get creative, offering virtual team building ideas to managers to help teams bond.

Michael Alexis, CEO of Team Building, says that “as more teams work from home, some organizations will figure
out how to make [virtual team building] a long term plan.”

His company offers video-call-based activities where far-flung teammates can have fun together even though they’re not physically together. These include virtual versions of office olympics and a “campfire” complete with s’mores.

Alexis’s other suggestions include:

  • Tea vs. Coffee: Each team member receives a package of tea and coffee samples to taste together during a virtual hangout.
  • Museum Hack: Remote teams learn storytelling skills in a fun, guided environment.

 

RELATED: The Best HR Case Management Software Has These 5 Features

 

4. Automation of Tasks

 

“I have seen a huge uptick in the technology that people in HR use to become more efficient and effective over the last several years,” says Ralph Chapman, CEO of HR Search Pros. “I am confident we will continue to see the use of software to automate more and more HR tasks as 2020 continues.”

HR professionals have a lot to do and often not enough time or staff to complete it all. Reduce your workload by automating the following tasks:

  • Payroll
  • Billable time management
  • Recruitment and onboarding
  • Records management
  • Employee benefits management
  • Employee evaluations
  • Tax documentation

 

Another way to streamline your processes is using a case management system. HR case management software makes it easy to track, manage and resolve workplace incidents and misconduct quickly to improve operations, spot trends and manage risk. Learn how i-Sight can help you protect your company with effective, timely investigations and strong documentation here.

 

5. Data-Driven Strategies

 

HR professionals have to make dozens of decisions every day, each one a choice that could potentially change the direction of the company. You have to accepting or reject candidates, choose benefits plans and workplace perks, plan events and evaluate employees with no guidance except your instincts.

Using metrics and analytics removes the guesswork, which is why it’s one of the biggest HR trends today. “There’s a wealth of information that can be tracked and measured,” says Ellen Mullarkey, Vice President of Business Development for Messina Staffing Group. “The most successful companies in the coming decade will be those who figure out how to use this information most effectively.”

Use data-driven HR strategies to:

  • Choose candidates based on performance capability, skill set and potential to work for you long-term
  • Determine risk factors for leaving and eliminate them for better retention
  • Gather insight into how to better engage and motivate employees
  • Create training modules that adapt to employees’ learning style and pace
  • Find areas of risk in your organization and implement training to address them

Employee-Based HR Trends

 

6. Emphasis on Learning

 

In 2020, HR departments should focus on helping employees achieve their learning goals. Whether it’s personal or professional development, employees who feel their growth is supported by their employer will be more engaged, motivated and productive, according to Clodagh Beaty, Co-creator of the Emotional Salary Barometer.

Beaty notes that “while professional growth and development will continue to be important, we anticipate an increase in personal growth initiatives. The importance of personal growth in leadership development and the focus on purpose and meaning at work will continue [emphasis original].”

How can you encourage employees to take control of their personal and professional learning paths? Try these suggestions:

  • Offer annual education stipends
  • Require (and pay for) at least one annual professional development course for every employee and/or manager
  • Add paid time off for volunteering and educational opportunities to employee leave allotments
  • Ask employees to share their professional and personal goals in their annual self-assessments

 

7. Better Onboarding

 

“Companies are finally starting to recognize they need to find, adequately train, and keep their employees because unemployment is at a low,” says Brett Holubeck, lawyer and founder of the Texas Labor Law Blog. “In short, businesses are going to want to find the right people, train them well, and try to keep them given the lack of qualified and available employees.”

While it’s every HR professional’s goal to hire the perfect candidate for every position, you may have to “make do” when you’re in a hurry to fill a role. That’s why updating old training programs or creating new ones is key to modern onboarding processes. Good training modules can fill in skill gaps candidates have when they first start working.

“Onboarding also takes more importance as certain jobs are eliminated, new technology is brought into a company, and workers change positions,” says Holubeck.

Don’t just rely on a day-one orientation about your company’s history. Add elements to your onboarding such as:

  • Your company’s core values
  • The direction your company is going in
  • Annual organizational goals
  • The company’s vision, as stated by your CEO or other senior managers

 

 

8. Focus on Workplace Experience

 

Rather than focusing on employee engagement, Beaty says, HR professionals should work toward a better employee experience. This HR trend shifts “away from the paternalistic towards a more human-centred interaction, empowering employees and encouraging responsibility.”

To achieve better employee experience, Beaty suggests focusing on the following elements:

  • Purpose: Help employees find purpose and meaning in their work
  • Autonomy: Consider giving employees more say over how, when and where they work
  • Belonging: Find ways to include remote and freelance employees, as well as those of different generations, ethnicities, gender identities, etc.

 

RELATED: The Complete Guide to Workplace Harassment Investigations

 

9. Health Advocacy Programs

 

“As the high cost of health insurance continues to challenge employers, more companies are turning to group high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) to contain costs,” says Teri Dreher, RN and President of NShore Patient Advocates. Because these types of benefits plans often require higher out-of-pocket costs for employees, they may need help navigating their healthcare choices.

That’s why including a health advocacy program in your benefits plan can improve employee experience.

Advocates guide patients through their healthcare options, acting as liaisons with medical practitioners, financial advisors and resource for medical questions and advice.

According to Dreher, these programs may actually save your company money by bringing “health insurance costs down as employees become more knowledgeable about healthcare.” HR professionals will also save time, as they can redirect health insurance questions to an advocate.

 

10. Caregiving Benefits

 

As the world’s population is aging, one in six employed Americans have to juggle caring for an elderly or disabled family member with their job. Many caregivers stated that their responsibilities “significantly affected” their work. In 2020, HR departments should adopt elder care benefits for employees.

What can you offer to help employees with caregiving responsibilities? Rachel Lyubovitzky, CEO and Co-Founder of EverythingBenefits suggests:

  • Flexible work hours
  • Remote work options
  • A care assistance plan to offset caregiving costs
  • Respite care to give employees time off from caregiving
  • Paid family leave

 

When employees aren’t as stressed out financially and physically from their caregiving responsibilities, they’ll be happier, more engaged and more productive at work.

 

11. Concentrating on Inclusion

One of the 2020’s HR trends will be to concentrate on the “inclusion” aspect of diversity and inclusion programs.

As mentioned above, a key part of improved employee experience is a feeling of belonging to the group. HR departments must find ways to build inclusion into company culture for a more and more diverse workforce.

Fostering a workplace culture that “empowers employees to feel that they can show up to work and be themselves will become more vital as the line between work and life continues to blend together,” says Stacey Engle, President of workplace communication training company Fierce.

In addition, she notes, the year’s US elections may lead to strong opinions and short tempers. Make sure employees feel safe, respected and free to share their beliefs. To boost your inclusion efforts, crack down on harassment, ensuring you apply policies consistently.

 

Recruitment HR Trends

 

12. Open Workforce

 

In order to find the best talent, many HR departments are turning to the open workforce. That is, hiring freelancers and independent contractors on an as-needed basis. These non-traditional employees can fill skill gaps in in-house teams, as well as pick up the slack when you’re short-handed.

“HR has to be innovative in their recruiting and retention efforts,” says Michael Morris, CEO of tech talent network Topcoder. More traditional recruitment strategies, he says, “don’t work for this new age of employee—a mobile, multitasking, gig economy workforce.”

Over 4 million Americans are independent workers. If you don’t tap into the open workforce, you may be missing out on top talent.

 

13. Improved Candidate Experience

 

One of 2020’s biggest HR trends, according to Malte Scholz, CEO and Co-Founder of Airfocus, is improving candidate experience during the recruitment process. With more open positions, companies have to fight for the best, most skilled candidates. One way to do that is to make the application process smoother.

“No more resumes and cover letters,” urges Scholz. Instead, use “applications [that] take just a few minutes to fill out” or that pull relevant information from applicants’ LinkedIn profiles. If your application process is too long or detailed, you could miss out on great candidates who are too busy to complete it.

He also suggests “an increased focus on social media ads that promote open positions” to make finding job postings easier for candidates. Go where applicants are instead of relying on them to find you.

 

14. Pre-Employment Assessments Over Resumes

 

Relying on resumes and cover letters to determine a candidate’s suitability for a position is becoming a thing of the past. In 2020, HR professionals should craft pre-employment assessments to test applicants’ skills.

“Test your candidates before hiring them,” suggests Dmytro Okunyev, founder of Chanty. “That way, you can hire based on the candidates’ ability to get the job done and not the words on their resume.”

Candidates may lie about experience or get help writing their resume, but they can’t flub an in-person and/or timed assessment. Work with managers to create assessments for open positions, including:

  • Skills tests: test the candidate on specific skills and tasks required for the position
  • Personality tests: uncover personality traits to see if the candidate would fit well in the position, the team and the company
  • Aptitude tests: test the candidate on skills that apply to every position (e.g. problem-solving, critical thinking, ability to learn)

 

15. Recruitment Marketing

 

Hiring the right people in 2020 requires a “reflection into who the company is as an employer. HR departments are now thinking strategically about their employer brand,” says Cass Bailey, CEO Slice Communications. To do this, use recruitment marketing.

Recruitment marketing is similar to the traditional marketing process, but instead of trying to attract customers, you’re attracting candidates. Unlike regular recruiting, recruitment marketing is proactive and ongoing.

Even if there are no open roles at your company, you want to communicate what it’s like to work there through your social media and blog. For instance, share videos of employees talking about their experience as an employee or behind-the-scenes photos of employees at work.

HR and marketing departments can collaborate to craft a communications strategy to share what it means to work for your company.

 

RELATED: 8 Essential Steps of a Background Investigation

 

16. Mobile-Friendly Recruitment

 

“In 2020, tech-savvy jobseekers will expect to be able to find jobs on their mobile devices and apply for [them] on the go, instead of having to wait to do so,” says Dane Amyot, Managing Director of bountiXP.

Most adults have mobile devices and, for some, it’s their only way to access the internet. As a result, a mobile-friendly website is one of the most essential HR trends to follow. If it is slow, hard to read or difficult to use on mobile, you risk losing out on qualified candidates who abandon the process.

A mobile-friendly recruitment system also makes HR professionals’ jobs easier. If you need to travel for work or have a long commute on public transit, you can still screen and communicate with candidates.

 

Do your company’s policies reflect your company’s vision, values and culture as well as employees’ needs? Keep yours up to date with our free policies and procedures template.


Ann Snook
Ann Snook

Marketing Writer

Ann is a marketing writer at i-Sight Software. She writes about issues related to investigations of fraud, employee misconduct, corporate security, Title IX, ethics & compliance and more.

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