2017 HR Trends We’re Excited About Right Now

As the year draws to a close, many companies are closing up their final review period and getting goal creation programs ready for the new year. There’s a lot happening behind-the-scenes in HR departments. The new year can mean a fresh start and employees come back from the holiday break ready to reset their goals and make waves in their company and for their career.

It’s always fun to see what trends are predicted and imagine what the next year may hold. We asked a selection of HR leaders from great places to work (including a few of our wonderful customers!) to see what they have planned (and are excited about) in 2017.

Millennials See Learning as a Benefit

Alignment with values is a must. At education startup Galvanize, employees are given a budget to spend on “how they want to grow and how they want to learn,” People and Culture Director Bruna Maia says.

The format of how learning happens is changing, too.

Vertical development is aimed at changing the way you make sense of the world around you rather than work on a particular ability or competency,” Itamar Goldminz, director of people operations at AltSchool, says.

With a competitive talent pool in Silicon Valley, being a startup isn’t an excuse to skip out on formal programs for learning.

“A lot of the time it’s like, we’re ‘failing fast,’ learn as you go, but really, what’s the concrete program behind it? You need to have that more developed, especially when it comes to millennials,” Maia says.

Rise of Feedback Culture

Peer feedback is on the rise. Advertising technology company Sovrn has “purposeful candor” as one of its values, which drives a new program led by People Operations Manager Brittany Kloss.

In the exercise, which will be optional to start, teams will gather in a conference room and go around the table sharing a self-reflection on what went well and what could have gone better, then inviting peer feedback from the rest of the group.

“I think it will be uncomfortable for some people at the beginning. We want to get to the place where those conversations are happening on a regular basis,” Kloss says. “We’re hoping employees are excited about it.”

Companies will become more open to seeking out feedback from employees to boost retention and productivity.

“There’s a lot more emphasis on having a comprehensive engagement survey — having some sort of thread with their employees of how are they doing, how are they feeling and having something that’s consistent — every quarter or every six months,” Maia from Galvanize says.

Once programs and tools are set up, it’s important to train managers to give good feedback, too. At the end of the day, the goal of feedback is to drive talent development and impact performance.

“It’s one thing to create a system for capturing feedback, it’s another to be able to draft effective feedback that helps elevate people’s performance,” David Razon, director of employee experience at Instacart, says.

Optimizing ‘Tours of Duty’

The “Tour of Duty” concept first emerged a few years ago and continues to rise as employees, especially knowledge workers, become more mobile and eager to shift roles in search of learning opportunities and challenges.

Now, companies are finding ways to take advantage of it.

“It’s this concept that people are going to come and go in your company, and for us there’s definitely a cost to it and an impact on the culture,” Maia says.

“How can we embrace the fact that people are going to have their legacy here and might leave — it is a big challenge to figure out how to maintain that relationship with them.”

Changing Role (and Perception) of HR

The challenge and opportunity for HR leaders is the changing needs and expectations from their department.

“Only recently have companies begun to think of HR as a thought leadership partner,” Razon says.

“The primary objective for HR folks is to enable the business through talent capability building, and you can only do that in response to a business strategy. If the business strategy changes frequently, the HR teams have to be exceptionally nimble as well.”

Also noted is HR’s role in employee communications and driving engagement.

“There is no more traditional HR function, but more of a company culture operations,” Mikko Koskinen, HR and recruitment manager at Smarp, says. “The goal of culture operations should also be to make your employees succeed in what they do rather than just making new processes to follow.”

“A lot of people perceive HR as just policy makers — we are hopefully seen as forward-thinking and make an environment where people are happy and excited to go to work, and thrive at work,” Kloss says.

SEE ALSO: Reinventing Performance Management: Customer Stories