5 Predictions for Employment, HR and Business in 2017

December 28, 2016

Hr180’s Gaffer, Claire, takes a look into her very sparkly crystal ball to become our very own Mystic Meg and look at what the future year holds for UK businesses…


So another year’s over and I’m not sure anyone could have used their crystal ball to foresee the events which unfolded this year !

We stumbled from one unpredictable shock to the next, whether that was Brexit or the prospect of President Donald Trump (please let him be impeached!). And yet, although slightly scared by the prospect of getting it completely wrong, I’ve stupidly decided to make 5 predictions about Business and HR in 2017!  Maybe next year I’ll be signing autographs as a famous psychic (hmmmm….)

1)    The world of work is undergoing radical change – pretty soon we’ll have 5 generations working in the same workplace for the first time ever and expectations are proving to be very different!  Traditional top down hierarchy is no longer flavour of the month, with our younger professionals demanding better and faster opportunities, more leadership and more responsibility.  Their greatest fear is being pigeon holed, which means we need to be assessing transferable skills, behaviours and attributes to give the widest possible career options.  This will be the only way to keep employees interested and challenged if we want to keep them for longer and reap the benefit of the training and development we’ve invested in them.

2)    Losing staff has always been a challenge, but the biggest necessity at the moment is keeping employees happy given the rise in boomerang workers and lack of real talent.  No longer is wellbeing, caring or culture a ‘nice to have’ – great candidates are being fought over, turnover or churn can cost a business up to 20% in annual salary costs which they can ill afford and as we move towards those more human roles that require knowledge based infrastructure, losing the knowledge suddenly puts you at a key competitive disadvantage.  Looking at Employee assistance programmes, bringing in total reward statements and making sure that everyone feels part of the organisation and able to influence change where necessary (after all the last three can be totally free so why wouldn’t you?) will help to reduce attrition and increase employee wellbeing.

3)    In order to facilitate the above, we’re certainly driving a trend away from annual Performance Reviews or Appraisals towards a system of more regular feedback that focuses on performance coaching rather than feedback on past performance.  All our experience (and the research) tells us that having a clear career path, being able to grow as an individual, having career objectives and receiving regular feedback all help engage the individual with the organisation and vice versa!  It also makes it much easier to implement talent management and succession planning.

4)    The rise and fall of the gig economy.  For those of you who did not read my blog on the gig economy, these are workers either self-employed or on zero hours contracts who take each piece of work as and when it comes up.  I foresee a small rise in this type of employment in the short term leading to the challenges of engaging, communicating and understanding a transient workforce.  However, given the recent case law in respect of Uber’s self-employed drivers being considered as employees and now with Amazon set for a similar legal battle, it could be that businesses need to change business models that rely solely on a vast network of workers rather than employees.

5)    Finally, inequality (particularly unequal wealth) is at an all-time high and needs to be addressed urgently in order to re-engage all of society, including our workers.  President Obama called it, “the defining challenge of our time,” and I agree.  Many generations have grown up with the belief that working hard will bring its own rewards and that you can achieve on the basis of merit.  However, with the rise of the consumer generation, the requirement for instant gratification and the growth of nobodies becoming Z-list celebrities through often ridiculous means, the notion of ‘hard work equals success’ has become warped.  We need to seriously and urgently address the gender pay gap, the gap between those at the top of the organisation and those in the middle (let alone the bottom!) and revisit some of the ‘old fashioned’ ideas and modernise them.  The Quaker businesses – Cadbury, Fry’s, Rowntree’s and Waterford Crystal – all put employees at the heart of their business strategy (in the form appropriate for that period!).  John Lewis and the Co-Op both have models that see loyal, engaged employees, a more equal distribution of benefits and wealth and a more transparent structure.  We could learn a lot if we took the time!

Whatever happens next year, and no matter whether these predictions are correct or not, I look forward to helping our clients improve employee engagement, assist business leaders to become better at their jobs and refocus on greater efficiency in an uncertain business landscape!

As we wave goodbye to one year and welcome in 2017 now is a great time to consider investing in your organisation’s future. Get in touch to flex your business muscle with HR180’s exclusive Strength Test! Call the HR superheroes on 0808 1221 180 or hit the ‘Rescue Me’ button and our Mission Control will be in touch.

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