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This year’s human resources (HR) predictions go to the heart of what practitioners (and their organizations) hold dear. While details may vary, the narrative is something like this: HR needs to foster a corporate culture bolstered by processes (read: technology) that allow people to more easily learn, collaborate and lead, all the while united in achieving individual career and strategic company goals. The implications for HR are staggering. Which is why I broke the conversation down to two important 2016 HR New Year’s resolutions earlier this year. Since then I’ve watched a cascade of forecasts, including Bersin by Deloitte’s Predictions for 2016. There’s a lot to agree with in the top 10 issues these analysts see impacting HR and talent this year, along with these additional thoughts.

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Mind the technology reality gap

Bersin predicts a new “design-centric digital focus” within HR where practitioners design apps, apply design thinking to their jobs, and focus on “experiences” and not “programs.” Another aspect is the platform these apps run on, and its impact on technology development. Yes, corporate learning is evolving (as the infographic above shows), and technology’s equally pressing role in an era of constant change is to provide flexibility and integration.

“We need to create more open HR platforms that enable bolting on new apps created by different companies,” said Steve Hunt, Vice President of Customer Value at SAP SuccessFactors. “Extensibility is key. We should use platforms that encourage companies to build their own solutions but still be able to integrate them with the core HR system.”

Next generation platforms are already here

The Bersin forecast is heavy on the next generation of talent management platforms and performance management. I’m fully aligned on the platform front. SAP Jam has long been spearheading tools that foster employee creativity, faster learning and collaboration. We often talk about encouraging employees to “play around” with SAP Jam, something that would never happen with legacy on-premise HR systems.

While there’s no question performance management is rapidly evolving, I disagree with Bersin’s assertion that all big software vendors are in catch-up mode. Noting that no solution does everything, Hunt called out the integrated capabilities of SAP SuccessFactors as a major benefit.

“We aren’t playing catch-up because we’ve always been out front.  And we’re continuing to pull farther ahead with continuous performance management applications,” Hunt said. “Having innovated for over 10 years based on input from thousands of customers, we provide a level of feature functionality and flexibility in orders of magnitude beyond any other solutions out there. Of particular importance is the ability to connect the different parts of performance management including communicating and managing goals and job expectations, providing ongoing feedback and access to developmental resources, and identifying and rewarding people based on their contributions to the company.” 

Expanding the definition of culture

Bersin’s fifth prediction is that engagement, retention, and culture will remain top priorities with new (continuous) feedback and analytics systems coming to market. Building on that theme, there’s more to culture than communication and feedback.  Equally important is how companies make hard decisions about people. “Nothing sends a stronger, more visible message about what behaviors a company values than who it chooses to hire, promote or terminate in leadership roles. Similar to how finance decisions are made, companies will put more emphasis on creating clear and transparent guidelines and criteria for people decisions, ensuring resources are used appropriately supporting company objectives,” said Hunt. “Who is promoted, at all levels, will be increasingly seen as a company decision, not a manager or executive decision.”

No doubt technology advances are powering HR transformation. One major challenge for practitioners is understanding how to use them to their individual organization’s greatest advantage.

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Related content:

New Year’s Resolutions for Human Resources in 2016

Human Resource Management: Why are We Afraid to Measure the Value of Employees?

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