How we manage people is constantly evolving. These changes are driven by many factors and 2018 has seen continued developments across the HR landscape. With increased personalisation of reward packages, improved awareness of health and wellbeing, better visibility of company culture, and greater choice over work-life balance, employees are expecting more and more from their employers.

With 2019 almost upon us, we wanted to share three key HR trends to watch over the next year and beyond. Trends that could help employers make sure their business can attract and retain the best talent, and meet their employees’ expectations.

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence is growing rapidly and it’s a topic we’ve seen being discussed more and more within the HR community. It’s all around us in our everyday lives and it’s being used to push boundaries in health and in business.

Many employers are using artificially intelligent solutions in their business to help optimise things like recruitment, training and analysis of employee feedback. One of the greatest misconceptions is that robots will take over our jobs. For HR, AI’s strengths lie in taking care of the routine, mundane tasks, providing greater opportunity for the humans to better analyse and understand ourselves, our teams and our businesses.

Other opportunities for AI in business are around supporting health and wellbeing. One of the many ways for employers to do this, is through wearable technology (think Apple watches and Fitbits).

According to the CIPD/Simplyhealth Health and Well-being at Work report, just 9% of organisations offer employees the use of wearable technology to encourage wellbeing1 – there is clear potential for growth in this area. By offering wearable tech devices, perhaps as a benefit, you can help employees become more aware of their health, encouraging them to take a preventative approach to looking after it.

Flexible working

The next trend, which ties in with technology, is flexible working. It isn’t a new concept, but in 2019, we’re sure to see further developments in flexible working. This covers a number of different working styles including working from home, working remotely, and working flexible hours.

Working 9-5 is quickly becoming old hat in many industries. Employees increasingly want and expect to design their working lives, at least to some degree, to fit in with their personal commitments. And it’s important for mental wellbeing too – 14% of employers say that long hours impacting work-life balance is a main cause of stress at work1. By allowing employees to work flexibly, you can help them redress their work-life balance.

Smaller businesses and start-ups seem to be at the forefront of this trend, but there are plenty of ways any business can enable flexible working. Digital solutions for flexible workers are becoming more advanced, robust and reliable. They can help your workforce stay connected wherever they are. Employers should make sure employees have the required equipment – laptops, mobile phones etc. – but should consider ways to make connectivity even easier. File sharing, instant messaging and video calling can all help smarter collaboration.

The employee experience

In 2019, the employee experience will be an important focus. Often this is relegated to employee engagement surveys, but the employee experience is more holistic than that. In the same way that there has been a shift from customer satisfaction to customer experience, organisations are now considering their employees’ overall experience of work.

The best way to find out how to enhance and reshape the employee experience, is to ask employees themselves. Employers will need be open to collecting and listening to feedback and ideas on all areas that contribute to the employee experience; reward and benefits, workplace environment, leadership, progression opportunities.

The relationship between wellbeing and the employee experience is also important to consider. Healthy employees make for happier and more engaged employees, so wellbeing becomes an integral foundation to creating a positive employee experience.

There are of course many trends which will impact the role of HR over the coming years, as well as new trends emerging as technology and workplaces continue to evolve.  The priority for HR and business leaders will be to be aware of and recognise these trends early enough to take action.  And of course the common theme, the one constant throughout, is the requirement for ongoing, open and honest two way communication with your employees. 


1CIPD/Simplyhealth Health and Well-being at Work survey report, May 2018

Simplyhealth Team

Simplyhealth Team

Simplyhealth helps companies, and their talent, perform well.

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