2018 Outlook for HR: New Skills and More People Data

As we start a new year of helping our readers face their business challenges, we asked Workday executives and partners for their insights on the year ahead. We found that people leaders are renewing their focus on talent management and recruiting, the employee experience, and the important role technology and data will play in driving initiatives like workplace diversity in 2018.

First up is the talent race. Finding and retaining top talent in an era of increased job optionality and competition will continue to be top of mind for many HR leaders, with many taking a closer look at the specific skills needed to support their business goals.

“New technology and, in particular, the digitization of work and life, is driving a need for new types of talent with new skills,” says Richard McColl, IBM’s global Workday practice leader. “HR must assess what balance of developing internal talent and hiring externally will get them there the quickest. For example, traditional requirements like a bachelor’s degree are no longer the prerequisites for a job—skills are prioritized. In fact, over the past few years, about 15 percent of IBMers hired in the United States haven’t had a bachelor’s degree.”

Nelson Egurrola, vice president of Workday product strategy from Alight Solutions, agreed with this sentiment, reiterating how important it will be for companies to look internally at their workforce and identify the specific skill gaps they need to fill to help improve the recruiting process.

“We must focus more on targeted recruiting in order to identify the true talent need and which underlying skills are required for specific jobs. We can use social media sites like Glassdoor and LinkedIn to intersect company needs with candidate skills to automate the candidate funnel process,” he said.

Workday Chief People Officer Ashley Goldsmith said that in 2018, technology and data will play an important role when it comes to workplace diversity. “Organizations will embrace human capital management technologies because they provide deeper insights into diversity data, help reveal patterns and trends, highlight successes and shortfalls, and enable effective tracking of goals,” she said.

“Such tools will help organizations keep a spotlight on diversity and inclusion trends, which is critical to workplace culture and business success.”

As organizations strive to build the best teams possible and retain their best workers in 2018, employees will be in the driver’s seat. People managers will need to take on coaching roles to help team members evolve their skill sets—not only for the business’s needs but to further their personal career goals as well.

“Your organization is more likely to succeed in the new digital era if you can create the best experiences for your customers and your employees.”
—Richard McColl, IBM’s global Workday practice leader

Greg Pryor, vice president of leadership and organizational effectiveness at Workday, explains, “Employees will demand optionality and in turn, employers will rely on technologies that enable more transparency around internal mobility, cross-training, and career development opportunities to encourage and guide employees interested in new or different roles and career paths.”

Industry analysts agree that the employee experience should be a high priority for employers this year, even if that means a shift for HR leaders. “In the digital age, progress is driven by people and experience,” says IBM’s McColl. “In other words, your organization is more likely to succeed in the new era if you can create the best experiences for your customers and your employees. The importance of experience means we may need to rethink the role of the CHRO. The CHRO is now in the digital people experience business, whether they like it or not.”

One thing is for sure as we head into 2018: Technology will be the key to unlocking better insights into our employees that will help create a more diverse, engaged workforce.