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Top Ten Human Resources Trends of the Decade

Four Human Resources Trends


Businessman standing looking out window in office
Thomas Barwick/ Stone/ Getty Images

The top ten trends of the decade for Human Resources staff and the employees served at work were not obvious nor were they easy to pick from my original list. Depending on your company size, your location, and the health and progress of your company and industry, the top ten Human Resources trends may have differed for you.

Although the selection was a challenge, and I still go back and forth, these are my top ten Human Resources trends of the decade. These Human Resources trends are presented in no particular order aside from the first trend, which has swamped HR the past couple of years.

Now that you have had a look at the top ten Human Resources trends I've presented, plus several of my runner ups, what are yours? Do you agree or disagree with the Human Resources trends I have selected? Please share your thoughts on the "Readers Respond" form below.

It's the Economy

With US unemployment at 10.2%, as I write this, and extended unemployment benefits and COBRA subsidies keeping many families afloat, this economic downturn has left no one unaffected. Even people still employed have watched as their 401(k)s and savings sunk to new lows. Almost no employees have received a raise without a promotion this past year. Normal bonuses and profit sharing have been replaced with mandatory furloughs and more work to replace that of laid-off coworkers.

Mourning the loss of laid-off coworkers with feelings of guilt, anxiety, and fear has also chipped away at the employee’s comfort level at work. Looking over their shoulder and protecting their own job has become commonplace. No one can predict how bad the economy could become or how long the downturn will last. So, business leaders don’t know whether they are managing from an economic perspective that the economy has been reset forever or a down economy that will recover. Business leaders are struggling to manage in times they have never before experienced – and the employees, who may also be experiencing stressful economic trauma outside of work, are watching and concerned.

Millennials Are on the March

A generation of employees who were pampered and scheduled by their Baby Boomer parents have taken the workplace by storm. They bring pluses and minuses to your workplace, but come on, who ever heard of a play date before 1990? So, not only is your workplace trying to absorb these offspring of the Baby Boomer generation - and millennials bring special challenges – employers are dealing with helping three generations of workers happily co-exist to serve customers as a team.

The economic downturn has made the three generation situation worst with Boomers who planned retirement, to make way for up and coming employees, unable to retire - and not happy about it. Millennials and Gen X employees are supervising Boomers and Boomers are mentoring those who wish to learn from the leaving generation.

For the employer, managing millennials is a skill managers need to develop. The millennial quest for work-life balance and for having a life outside of work is legend. Employers accommodate these talented young people and develop their strengths and ability to contribute, or you'll lose them to an employer who will. Many of them have options. They bear no resemblance to the "company man,” touted as the ideal employee in earlier years. And, the workplace is changing to accommodate them.

Employee Recruiting and Networking Online

This decade has brought about the transformation of employee recruiting and social and media interaction and networking. When I first started writing about recruiting, the big job boards like Monster, had not been around very long. Employers have seen a transformation in how people find each other for networking and jobs this decade.

From large job boards like Indeed to niche job sites, from networking on discussion lists to sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Ecademy, networking and recruiting will never be the same again. Human Resources employees have either kept up with the new ways of interacting and communicating or they are doing their organizations a disservice.

Social media networking is the new way to find employees, find jobs, get answers to questions, build a wide-spread, mutually supportive network of contacts, and keep track of colleagues and friends. Social media and online recruiting bring the employer new challenges. Developing social media and blogging policies, deciding whether to monitor employee time online, and checking candidate backgrounds online, just scratch the surface of new employer challenges. But, don’t let the power of this online media pass you by.

Made to Order Employment Relationships

Perhaps it’s the push from the millennials, and definitely it’s the availability of technology that facilitates the customization, but the made to order work relationship has become a dominant force in the past decade. Teleworking or telecommuting, a rare privilege in the 1990s, has taken workplaces by storm. One giant computer company reports that 55% of its employees not only telecommute, they work from home all of the time. A New York City publishing company allows telecommuting two days a week and employees can bargain for more.

Teleworking is not the only component of the new made to order work arrangements. Flexible anything has become the new norm. Flexible work hours, flexible four day work weeks, flexible time off for appointments, and the most important trend of all: Paid time off (PTO) allows employees to take time off when they need the time as it consolidates sick leave, personal time, and vacation time into a bank of days for employees to use.

Additionally, trends such as bringing baby or the family pet to the office also fall within this workplace flexibility.

Superficially, all of these components of the made to order Human Resources employment trend offer benefits for employees. But, they offer benefits for employers, too. Employers don’t need to police employee time. They need to make work and communication more transparent and measurable so the flexibility yields results. Their employees are more motivated and engaged, and less stressed out about family and life issues, because they have the time necessary to address work-life balance issues.

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