As 2015 is behind us, I find myself reflecting on notable happenings in the world of HR during the previous calendar year, and looking ahead to what we might expect in 2016. The past 12 months have brought us continuing advances in our ability to handle vast amounts of data and apply sophisticated analytical techniques to uncover impactful people-related insights. We’ve seen new relationships among HR offering providers in the way of mergers, acquisitions and partnerships. We’ve heard continuing frustration with traditional performance management systems and searches for a better way. And we’ve seen continuing recognition that it’s the people that make or break a company, with success hinging on such actions as finding and attracting the right talent, and listening through a multitude of methods to what employees have to say. So what does 2016 hold in store?
A tipping point for HR analytics adoption
I believe 2016 will be the year we see a notable uptick in the adoption of HR analytics – predictive, prescriptive and social. There is so much interest and so much capability. With the huge quantity of people data in many organizations, the HR function could be at the forefront of realizing the benefits of this strategic capability. Yet only a small percentage of companies are what could be described as far along the HR analytics maturity curve. IBM Institute for Business Value research shows that in 2015 less than 20 percent of CHROs reported using analytics to predict future outcomes. One of the most common use cases, predicting retention, hasn’t budged from 2013 levels (13 percent usage, then and now). With ever-improving data management and analytics tools, we should see a tipping point of increased adoption in 2016.
HR gets personal
I’m also hearing about expectations of more and more personalization of HR, with information and recommendations served up based on each individual’s searches and browsing patterns on HR systems and web sites. Just as we, as consumers, are willing to trade our data for valuable services and financial rewards, so too will employees be willing to share their data for outcomes they value. Wearable technologies present further opportunities for individualized data collection and recommendations.
Understanding the boundaries
The increased focus on people data and personalization raises issues around privacy, which HR leaders will need to grapple with and address head-on. Employee data collection and analysis can certainly be mutually beneficial for employee and organization alike, but are there boundaries that need to be preserved? Already, our own Smarter Workforce Institute research is showing a move away from apathy toward stronger acceptance or rejection of employee data sharing. We will publish a full report on this research soon. It will be prudent to establish strategies and policies that address all aspects of privacy at work, including data collection, storage and usage.
Those are my 2016 predictions for HR: Broader analytics adoption, increased personalization of HR and heightened privacy concerns. We can check back in 12 months to see how I did!
I’d like to close with a shout-out to my esteemed colleagues Jay Dorio and Eric Lesser, and my phenomenal Smarter Workforce Institute team for informing my views. And to all: Best wishes for a happy and peaceful new year!