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8 Trends in HR for 2019

Get your tick list ready: we’re hitting all of the big emerging trends in HR for the year ahead.

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Once upon a time, before Google was the place to work and “I work in tech” become a legitimate dating line, being a Web Developer was not cool. Hard to believe right? Well that revelation, that change in what might have been considered as the job of the moment, is about to happen to HR.

Human resources has traditionally been a bit low in the kool aid department. In a 2016 study, human resources manager was ranked 8th in the most underrated jobs. As one article explains:

“There are times when being a HR manager feels uninspiring. You feel ineffectual and unhelpful to everyone in the company. A human resources manager should feel like they’re having an impact on the company that is positive as a whole.”

If you can relate, you may be happy to hear that we’re within the sea of change. Companies are ditching the term “HR Manager” altogether, swapping it for the altogether more trendy “Chief Happiness Officer”, the focused “Director of Employee Engagement” or the fun “Vibe Manager”.

While the job title of a HR Manager is evolving, so is the role itself. Social media, advances in cloud-based software,  the rise of the workplace millennial and a focus on EX (employee experience) are all creating a new paradigm in what it means to work in HR - and what responsibilities it involves. With HR professionals seeing the change, and embracing it.

Here are 8 of the big trends we think will affect the department in the year ahead.

1. Automated admin tasks

HR is traditionally an admin-heavy role. From staff onboarding, to logging holiday allowances and organizing payroll. In 2019 we see many of these tasks becoming automated. In marketing, it’s a common trope that if something is repeatable it can be automated. In HR there are plenty of tasks and workflows that could be set up so that they happen in a repeatable, scalable manner.

Some examples are:

Artificial intelligence for candidate culling

As humans we have unconscious bias that can rear its head when looking through a pile of resumes. AI recruiting software like Mya can take away the manual process of scanning candidates for a job, skipping the HR team straight to part 2, to review a refined list of applicants.

Automated onboarding

HR software systems can be used to set up workflows for candidate onboarding that follow a series of rules. For example, if a HR person sets a new joiner’s start date, a series of emails can be triggered to send on Day 1, 4 and 14, providing information at each stage of the journey. Not only does this ease the workload but it also improves the employee experience.


Managing payroll for five employees might be fine, but what about when you get to 500, or 5000, employees? Payroll is one of the areas that can, and probably should, be automated. Creating processes for employees to add details, checking time calendars and ensuring the right amount gets paid on the right day, can all be automated in the HR system of the future.

2. Employee experience

You’ve heard of UX right? According to Wikipedia, user experience is “A person's emotions and attitudes about using a particular product, system or service.”

EX (employee experience) therefore, refers to a person’s feelings and attitude towards the processes, actions and events that occur within their employment at a company.

An image from Jacob Morgan showing how to approach employee experience design.

Employee experience might involve:

  • Interaction - what happens when you interact with the organization, the HR department, a manager or colleague.
  • Environment - where you work, your commute, what your desk looks like, the office culture, the team diversity.
  • Tools - the type of technology, systems and programs you have access to, whether the printer works or is constantly blocked...

Although employee experience isn’t a new concept, it’s one that’s now being prioritized within the workplace. There are a ton of stats showing that employees who feel negative emotions at work are more disengaged and that a stimulating work environment is often an effective way to help engage employees at work.

3. Redefining the HR role

HR professionals are fed up with being the department that shouts but isn’t heard. In 2019, we’ll see a change in how the HR role is defined, and its relevance to business leaders as a result.

With software taking up many of the admin tasks, like payroll and staff onboarding, here’s where we think HR teams will spend their time instead:

  • Onboarding - the first few weeks of employment are crucial. This year, HR professionals will focus on the employee experience, working with departments like Marketing and Design, to make onboarding feel special and rewarding.
  • Talent management - retaining great staff will be a key HR consideration in 2019, with personalized training programs, company perks and personal development, all playing a big factor.
  • Company culture manifestations - organizing a company meet-up, charity initiatives and improving communication may all come under the HR banner as HR begins to manifest that company culture.
  • Employee wellbeing - According to mental health charity Mind, 56% of employers want to offer more mental health support to employees but aren’t sure how. This year, that will change as HR take the reigns of employee wellness programs.
  • Workforce optimization - technology is massively disrupting traditional HR and with technology, comes data. In 2019, HR departments will begin harnessing data, to spot trends and use them to better optimize productivity, staff behavior and company policies.

4. Higher relevance of HR information

HR have traditionally had to fight to get their message heard. Often seen as an “overhead” department that spends, rather than earns, money. It’s also traditionally been difficult to link HR activities to return on interest, a key north star for most other departments within an organization.

This year, we think HR will look at new ways of cutting through. To become the “go to” department, rather than just the one that people look to in a criss. Here are some of the methods HR might employ:

Using digital screens to share HR information

HR departments are beginning to research, and implement, tools such as digital signage screens. This surfaces information that might usually be hidden (and ignored) in emails, and places it front and center of stage, within the physical office space.

Integrating with communication tools, like Slack

Using automation, HR departments can surfacing personnel information to be seen in a wider context. For example, setting up an integration so that when someone new joins, they are welcomed via Slack, or email.

Slack for Human Resources offers “Streamlined onboarding and a resource destination for all employees.”

Working directly with business leaders

Rather than being bypassed and ignored by business leaders, this year HR departments will take on some of business’ biggest challenges; how to attract talent, retain staff and improve company culture.

5. Personalization

Most company policies are set as a one-size-fits-all model. In 2019, we’ll see more personalized ways of working and the freedom for employees to create the work life that supports their personal lifestyle.

For example, global firm PWC has found that flexible working needs to be offered to everyone, for all reasons, if it is to be made universal.

“To build a culture of flexibility, you must first reimagine what flexibility means today. Remember, to create behavior change, you need to allow for variance and creativity and agility…..Flexibility for a caregiver might mean being able to leave work early to take an elderly parent to a doctor’s appointment. For a parent, it might mean taking a midday run, so evenings can be spent with their children. And for others, it could simply be taking an hour in the afternoon to go to a yoga class and recharge.”

If you think about our customer experience, we expect our preferences to be remembered and understood. Having to repeat ourselves or seeing irrelevant information is frustrating. In employee experience, individuals are beginning to set the same level of expectation. This may be easy to do when you have say, 10 employees and the CEO knows everyone’s name, but when you have 10,000 this is much more difficult to achieve. HR departments will need to develop personalization and use tools, systems and automation, in order to scale.

6. Learning in the flow of work

E-learning is a big trend for 2019, even outside of the realm of HR, predicted to be worth over $65billion by 2035. This diagram from Josh Bersin, shows how our approach to learning has changed over time:

We’ve moved from a traditional model of self-study, on a course-by-course basis, often very specific to a certain role, to everyone having the ability to learn all the time, wherever they are, across multiple subjects.

Today, if an employee doesn’t understand something they turn to Google or YouTube videos. Content is free, unstructured and searchable. This creates an expectation that learning materials should be widely available, and on demand.

What we’ll start to see as a trend is learning being built into work. This might be choosing a system which has learning materials built-in, using digital screens to encourage workplace learning and learning opportunities appearing within everyday work.

7. Employee wholeness

Post-industrialisation it was difficult for employers to switch from seeing employees as machines, churning out at a specific level of productivity, to people who had a limited capacity to produce ideas. This is just one of the theories that experts are contributing to why Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1997) are dubbed the “burnout generation”.

As a result, companies have moved from not really caring about employees as individuals, to trying to look at employee wholeness as an area that covers mental and physical wellbeing. In the 1990s there was a spark of companies introducing employee health incentives, like on-site fitness instructors and incentives for achieving a specific BMI.  

While mental health is a huge concern for employers, and something HR are looking to address (better mental health support in the workplace can save UK businesses up to £8 billion per year), a trend for 2019 is around employee wholeness. The idea that an employee can only be at their most productive self if they are happy in all areas of their lives.

In fact, employee benefits provider Unum UK partnered with The Future Laboratory to survey 3,000 workers and found that there are two types of future workers, one of whom requires “flexibility from the employer, treating personal commitments and pursuits as equal to professional commitments.” This year, HR departments will begin to review the employee as a person; with physical, mental and physiological needs that a good employer should address.

8. Increased transparency

Organizational transparency was one of those startup trends that worked well for a few companies before everyone jumped on the bandwagon and it lost its sparkle. Think social media tool Buffer, that was one of the first to provide complete transparency on salaries, equity and revenue.

Then you had companies like Groove HQ, who had an entire blog dedicated to how they were reaching their first financial milestone, and the struggles they had along the way.

Nowadays, it’s pretty standard to share information on where your company’s heading, or what you’re trying out.

What isn’t so commonplace (and what we see as an emerging trend for 2019) is greater internal transparency. For example, each month at ScreenCloud we have an All Hands meeting, where our Founders share what’s happening with the product, people and metrics. We hear about if it’s been a good month or a bad month, what’s in the pipeline and any upcoming concerns.

More transparency helps everyone to take ownership of the company. Secrecy also breeds distrust and one of the biggest factors for the millennial workforce, is having an employer that they believe in and that they can rely on to do the right thing. Creating a strategy for organizational transparency, while still protecting confidentiality and data, is one of HR’s focuses for 2019.

How ScreenCloud could help

We’re passionate about helping give a voice to HR professionals who feel like their message is being lost. To start sending your information (easily) to the screens around you, start a free trial today at

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