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Being an HR professional has never been more exciting! Advances in tech and AI – integrated into innovative products, fun apps, and disrupting HR concepts – hit the market at an astounding pace. Within enterprises, HR is finally considered to be a major player in driving business forward and shaping not only the work but the business success of tomorrow.

It’s worth keeping up with the key developments. Let’s take a look at the year ahead. Based on last year’s learnings and next year’s predictions across the HR scene here is our list of the top 4 HR trends to watch in 2019.

1. Embedded HR

More than ever, HR processes will be required to be embedded into the “flow of work” as Josh Bersin puts it. The success of HR tools and processes will be defined primarily by the degree to which they are not a next-to-work occurrence but by being an integral part of business processes. Consequently, impeccable usability and employee-centricity of HR tools and processes become even more important. Mini learning units that blend into the job as opposed to time-consuming off site training courses will rise in popularity. Processes that cannot be completely integrated into the daily business by design (such as performance reviews or talent management) need to become as lean and user-friendly as possible. Luckily, new technologies are clearly delivering here.

2. Personalization is key

The desire to manage as many people as efficiently and standardized as possible has in the past often led HR departments to be providers of “one size fits all” approaches. In the ongoing war for talent, you are unlikely to win the battle for hearts and minds with ill-fitting default solutions. Instead, as qualified talent drives your business success, we’ll see further development towards creating a deeply personalized employee experience.

Technology can be part of the solution, as AI-enabled software can provide effective mass personalization, e.g. highly personalized learning recommendation. The other half is delivered by humans. As manual tasks are replaced by automation, HR professionals will focus even more on individual guidance and mentoring, creating productive working environments, and fostering well-being and health. Uniquely human capabilities become a competitive advantage for organizations.

3. It’s all about skills

Agility, AI, automation – it’s clear by now that when dealing with a high velocity of change, fixed job roles will no longer do the job. In the future, segmentation of the workforce will mainly be grounded in skills instead of roles. Expect the focus on skills to intensify in 2019 and be prepared to discuss even more ideas on how to include skills into talent management, strategic workforce planning and team staffing. Specific emphasis will, unsurprisingly, be on ‘digital IQ’. Major companies now supply mobile devices to the entire factory floor – the fully digital workforce will no longer be a nice to have but instead be paramount to win business in 2019.

In sum, the importance of skill-based talent frameworks increases. In order to track and plan the constant up- and re-skilling more strategically, HR’s mission will be to gain a thorough understanding of (hidden) skills and skill development within the organization. Providing the right kind of – embedded – learning possibilities to support employees in acquiring new skills will be crucial – meaning supply and demand in this area will accelerate even faster in 2019.

4. People Analytics at HR’s Core

2019 will see an even more accelerated adoption of using data to make well-informed people decisions. As more and more major companies now have a people analytics team, it seems that the data-driven approach to HR is here to stay – and rightly so! Keith McNulty, the global director of people analytics and measurement at McKinsey & Co., describes his vision of HR 3.0 as defined by people analytics as the core element of HR. In order to sharpen their view into the organization, HR professionals will need to focus on cultivating problem-solving and data-handling skills. As a consequence, HR departments will likely become more divers and interdisciplinary than they already are. Hiring for statistically and scientifically skilled people alongside the typical HR person is key to ensure proper analysis and handling of sensitive information. As data-literate talent is however highly sought after and not all HR teams will be able to have their own on-team analytics specialist fast enough, smart people analytics technology and easy-to-understand dashboards can somewhat bridge this gap.

These are the Leapsome team’s predictions for 2019. What are your thoughts? Where do you agree or disagree? We are curious to hear your ideas! In twelve months time we will revisit these predictions to compare what 2019 actually brought all of us.

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