What HR Experts Think You Need to Know 2017 Will Bring

Raise your hand if you saw 2016 coming. Not literally saw 2016 coming; simple math determined that 2016 had to come immediately after 2015. But if you weren’t surprised by how last year went—if you expected every twist and turn that occurred during our last lap around the sun—raise your hand. Go ahead, raise it. . . . I’m willing to bet your hand isn’t raised. Am I right? 2016 was a wild and unexpected year that left many thinking, “Now what?!”

Well, almost three weeks into 2017, this year still very much feels like a blank slate; there’s reason for both optimism and caution. Because we love looking to the future of HR with our intuitive crystal balls, we asked a few HR experts—including our very own Rusty Lindquist—how they see things shaking out for HR in 2017. Below are some of the responses we found helpful.

2016 will be known for what in HR circles?

Individualization in HR circles. Individualization in recruiting in this candidate (not employer) market, individualization in onboarding to make sure to set employees up for success, and individualization in retention to make sure every employee is heard and has a path forward with your company. —Molly Scheller, Sr. HR Coordinator at Hanapin Marketing

What’s been missing until recently is the ability to leverage HR data in strategic ways that align with business goals such as increased revenue and lowered costs. 2016 saw the rise in people analytics functions and roles within HR departments. —Ji-A Min, Head Data Scientist at Ideal

I think 2016 will be known for the exodus of old-school performance, the rise of engagement as a discipline, and the realization that we have so much yet to change in HR circles. —Rusty Lindquist, VP Thought Leadership & Product Marketing at BambooHR

2016 is defined by the war for talent. Many organizations aren’t able to locate the right people—especially senior talent—and it’s a continuing problem. —Ted Bagley, Senior Manager of Talent at Influitive

What HR trends do you foresee taking hold in 2017?

I foresee two HR trends in 2017. First, I foresee widespread and rigorous attempts to commercialize culture—both as a next step in recruitment marketing during a talent deficit and as a desperate effort to fuel employee satisfaction and retention during a time of shrinking tenures and high turnover. Second, I foresee renewed intent to invest (more meaningfully) in performance. This will likely manifest through learning and development efforts, leadership training, engagement monitoring, and new performance tracking technologies. —Rusty Lindquist

What should HR expect in 2017?

Businesses will start focusing on their people. They will offer more career development, more community sustainability programs, and will focus more on coaching their employees in real time instead of waiting for the dreaded year-end performance review. —Jennifer Currence, HR Strategy Advisor at OnCore Management Solutions

Marketing, communications, and brand ownership become a key part of HR. Externally, this is often called “recruitment marketing.” But internally there is also a major component developing. What do people in your company consider it to be, and how do they communicate it? The most sophisticated HR groups and companies are thinking deeply about how to communicate to their employees what it means to be an employee. The goal is to improve employee experiences and the company brand, and to have positive impacts on acquisition and retention. —Ted Bagley

What’s the best case scenario for HR in 2017?

Employers embrace the transparent market. Even if you don’t advertise what your company is really like, candidates will figure it out anyway. Be willing to give candidates and employees the full picture, because they’re expecting to hear it. —Molly Scheller

Automating low-level administrative tasks to free up HR’s time. Ironically, automation will enable HR professionals to become more “human” by allowing them to spend more of their time having meaningful conversations with candidates and employees. —Ji-A Min

HR professionals become marketers. —Ted Bagley

What’s the worst case scenario for HR in 2017?

HR maintains the status quo, and continues the litany of paperwork, policy, and administration that drags us back to the 1980s HR departments that traditional industries still embody. —Ted Bagley

HR languishes through yet another year before we reach the tipping point—the moment behavioral psychologists dub “the crystallization of discontent”—where the SMB industry at large wakes up to the realization that people and culture must become core elements of our business and not the business byproducts they are treated as today. —Rusty Lindquist

Companies will fight the transparent market, making it more difficult for candidates to gain a clear picture of their potential employer. —Molly Scheller

2017 will be known for what in HR circles?

The year strategic HR in SMB (small and medium businesses) crosses the chasm. Right now, SMB HR is primarily transactional, struggling to unshackle themselves from their operational past, except for in the most innovative and early-adopters. I think in 2017 strategic HR will cross the chasm, and become more mainstream in SMB environments, fueled by the need to optimize their people and culture (the ultimate value promise of strategic HR) to recruit and retain top talent, and stay competitive in the market. —Rusty Lindquist

HR organizations transforming and becoming more progressive. I also think that while the tech industry’s HR and talent management will continue leading the way, more traditional companies will start embracing some of the best practices that tech companies have started. —Ted Bagley

Total transparency. —Molly Scheller

Just like 2016, this year is bound to be full of surprises in and out of HR. So, what predictions do you have for 2017? Please comment below and we promise to recognize you if your words prove to be prophetic.