The past year has been somewhat surprising in terms of society and the way we live and work. We’ve seen a massive rise in new technologies, mindfulness and wellbeing as well as an increase in rights movements such as #metoo and #blacklivesmatter. As we move into 2019, how will these changes affect the workplace and what will be the top trends for HR? Here’s our predictions:

1)   Increase focus on inclusiveness, equality and rights

In 2018 we saw 20,000 female Google employees staging a global walkout over the companies’ lack of transparency regarding sexual harassment, misconduct and non-inclusive workplace culture. As the #metoo movement and #blacklivesmatter continue to be prevalent in social media and in the press, it’s important to understand how this may impact your business and the role of HR within this. Working with management, HR can help review the company handbook which outlines the policies and practices to ensure that the workplace is and remains a safe, fair and inclusive place. This will ensure that measures are in place to deal with any instances that may occur. Should an incident occur, it’s important to deal with it effectively and confidentially for all parties involved. Employee surveys can also help you get a feel of opinions and attitudes in the business. By anonymising the answers, it will allow employees to feel comfortable about opening up and being honest as well as encourage a high response rate.  

2)   Atypical Working

In recent years we have seen a radical shift in the way in which people work and in employers’ attitudes towards atypical working habits, such as remote or flexible working. For many, being ‘tied to the desk’ is a thing of the past and with busy lives, this trend will continue to rise.  This allows employees the flexibility to adapt working patterns around their lifestyle, often increasing performance and productivity and employee engagement. However, it’s not all positive. A study by the CIPD found almost a third of staff felt they could not switch off from work in their personal time and nearly a fifth of these people feel like they are under surveillance which impacts their sleep and causes anxiety. For HR, this creates new challenges in working with growing numbers of employees that have reduced or limited face-to-face communication, span different time zones and may have issues that are not visible to management due to limited interaction. Communication is key when it comes to atypical working. Cost effective technology such as video conferencing, telepresence and online collaboration services such as Basecamp and Slack can provide vital channels of communication between HR, management and staff. Working with management, HR can help create an environment of ‘open culture’ so employees feel comfortable talking openly with their line managers and HR about any issues or concerns.

3)   Health and Wellbeing

Apple CEO Tim Cook recently stated  that if you could go into the future and ask “What was Apple’s greatest contribution to mankind” – the answer would be about health. Apple have a proven track record of trend spotting and so this shift in strategy is a clear signal that health and wellbeing will be prominent from 2019 onwards.             For HR, this means keeping open clear lines of communication with employees and again, helping management to promote an ‘open culture’ and ensuring line managers are empowered to help employees facing difficulties. Software like Breathe HR can help track sickness and monitor performance, providing key indicators of staff members who may be experiencing issues. Breathe HR also integrates with many different tools and using their API and webhooks can integrate seamlessly into your existing workflow. If you would like more advice on any of the topics above or are interested in finding out more about Breathe HR please get in touch.