HR Trends 2016: the list of lists

HR Trends Summary

From the book “Superforecasting: the art and science of prediction” I learned that people who are good forecasters become better if they interact and learn from other forecasters. I don’t want to (and cannot) claim I am a super forecaster, but in the spirit of the book I studied 30 articles about HR trends for 2016 (and beyond). I am sure there are many more, but I stopped searching at 30 (including two of my own blog posts). The objective: to improve my predictions for the year 2016.

Below the list with the 30 articles in order of publishing date.

30 articles about HR trends 2016

  1. 10 Talent Management trends for 2016 (HR Trend Institute, Tom Haak, 13 May 2015)
  2. Benefit trends to watch in 2016 – and beyond (SHRM, Stephen Miller, 1 October 2015)
  3. 5 #HRTech Trends Emerging This #HRTechConf (Blogging4Jobs, Jessica Miller-Merrell, 5 October 2015)
  4. Top 10 HR tech trends to watch for in 2016 (HRDive, Tom Starner, 13 Oct 2015)
  5. 5 forces shaping the future of HR (Talent Management, John Boudreau, 13 Oct 2015)
  6. 3 HR trends that are becoming best practices (Entrepreneur, Matt Straz, 19 Oct 2015)
  7. HR Technology for 2016: ten disruptions on the horizon (Deloitte, Josh Bersin, 22 Oct)
  8. 10 workplace trends you’ll see in 2016 (Forbes, Dan Schwabel, 1 Nov 2015)
  9. Recruiting trends for 2016 and their supporting best practices, part 1 of 2 (ERE, John Sullivan, 16 Nov 2015)
  10. 5 innovations changing work as we know it (Entrepreneur, Nina Zipkin, 18 Nov 2015)
  11. 5 HR Trends to watch for in 2016 (HRNext, 20 Nov 2015)
  12. Recruiting trends for 2016 and their supporting best practices, part 2 of 2 (ERE, John Sullivan, 23 Nov 2015)
  13. HR Trends and predictions 2016 (Blog Barry H. Davies, 23 Nov 2015)
  14. The big five learning technology trends for 2016 (Training Zone, Rob Caul, 30 Nov 2015)
  15. 11 HR trends for 2016 (HR Trend Institute, Tom Haak, 1 Dec 2015)
  16. 5 top HR trends to watch for in 2016 (ADP, Amit Jain, 15 Dec 2015)
  17. 8 predictions for trends in recruitment and talent management (KornFerry Futurestep, Meghan Brown, 16 Dec 2015)
  18. 5 Powerful HR & Recruiting Tech Trends in 2016 (Blogging4Jobs, Jessica Miller-Merrell, 18 Dec 2015)
  19. Technology: The Enabling Force Awakening HR As A Strategic Partner In 2016 (TalentCulture, Michael Moon, 21 Dec 2015)
  20. Nine Work Trends That Will Not Happen In 2016 (Forbes,Tomas Chamarro-Premuzic, 22 Dec 2015)
  21. 10 HR Trends You’ll See In 2016 (Huftington Post, Kosta Petrov, 29 Dec 2015)
  22. 5 Powerful Human Resource Trends in 2016 (Blogging4Jobs, Jessica Miller-Merrell, 29 Dec 2015)
  23. The Top 4 Talent Management Trends You Should Watch For In 2016 (TLNT, Linda Mougalian, Jan 6, 2016)
  24. HR trends for 2016: gender diversity to take centre stage (The Hindu, Richa Tripathi, 6 Jan 2016)
  25. Top 3 HR Trends for 2016 (Engage, Achievers, 6 Jan 2016)
  26. Consumerization Of HR: 10 Trends Companies Will Follow In 2016 (Forbes, Jeanne Meister, 7 Jan 2016)
  27. Top 5 workforce trends which will impact HR in 2016 (Business 2 Community, Brett McIntyre, 8 Jan 2016)
  28. My 16 Workplace Predictions For 2016, (Forbes, Roberta Matuson, 8 Jan 2016)
  29. Trends And Themes Dominating The HR Landscape In 2016 (Forbes, Sylvia Vorhauser-Smith, 12 Jan 2016)
  30. 10 emerging HR trends (HR Directors Business Summit, Mervyn Dinnen, not dated)

5 is the magic number

All the articles mention a number of trends. In the figure below an overview of how often a certain number of trends was mentioned.

TrendsFigure 1: Number of trends mentioned in the 30 reviewed articles

Clearly the magical number is five. 11 of the 30 articles mention five trends (37%). Another seven articles capture ten trends (2×5), another 23%. The maximum number is 16, but this writer has spread the 16 trends over two articles (9 and 12 on the list). The minimum number of trends used is three, in four articles.

Hardly any of the articles is written by an independent writer, unfortunately. Most writers are connected to a business or write on behalf of a business. Most of the content is based on the personal observations, feelings, intuition and wishes of the writer. Facts and evidence to substantiate the observed trends are most of the time missing. Academic articles on trends for 2016 seem to be non existent. Almost all articles are focused on USA and western Europe. It would certainly be interesting to hear more about the trends in Asia, Africa and other regions. Please let me know if I missed articles.

A summary of the HR trends 2016


HR Trends 2016

Figure 2: A summary of the 2016 HR trends

In Figure 2 I tried to capture and cluster the trends mentioned in the 30 articles. On the left side the drivers of change. Technology in the first place, there is clearly agreement on this. Demographic developments and some general trends in the western world are added. These drivers fuel other trends I put in the second column. As in other parts of life (family, life in the city, holidays) people more and more expect work to be a positive experience. As machines become more intelligent, the man-machine collaboration becomes more important and creates new opportunities. In brown the trends in the different areas of HR management. Most mentioned in the articles: recruitment, talent management and performance management. Trends in the areas of leadership, reward and benefits seem to be less obvious. Other areas are hardly mentioned (in grey): diversity, succession and agile HR, to mention a few.

In the right lower corner, the trends in the HR function, the HR systems and tools and HR Analytics. The growing importance of HR/ People Analytics is on almost everybody’s list.

Most interesting observations on the HR function: on the negative side HR is still adding too much complexity, on the positive side HR and Marketing are coming closer together, and HR can learn a lot from marketing.

Engagement and culture I have put in the green boxes on the right side, as they can be seen as an outcome more than an HR practice. Engagement is still mentioned here and there, but the big hype seems to be over. If there is a trend in engagement, it is, unfortunately, that engagement of people in most organizations is expected to stay on the low side.

If you read the 30 HR trend articles, it looks as if the future is bright. Geo-political trends do not seem to influence life in organizations, and the possible downsides of continuous automation on employment are hardly touched.

My personal Top 3

On number 1 Consumerization Of HR: 10 Trends Companies Will Follow In 2016 of Jeanne Meister in Forbes. She captures the current trends in a concise way, and the long term trend where HR is moving from policy makers and law enforcers to creators of an individual employee experience is well phrased in her article. On number 2 HR Technology for 2016: ten disruptions on the horizon by Josh Bersin. The content and insights provided by Josh Bersin and associates are always very solid and insightful. Ex aequo on number 2  5 forces shaping the future of HR   by John Boudreau. John is one of the few who mentions the importance of man-machine collaboration. Not man versus machine but man and machine, making the world a better and safer place. On number 3 Nine Work Trends That Will Not Happen In 2016 by Tomas Chamarro-Premuzic, also in Forbes. I like this article as Tomas points the finger to all the wishful thinking and to many of the things that (alas) will most likely not happen. Number 6 on his list of things that will not happen in 2016: The end of incompetent leadership. And on number 7: “The rise of evidence based management”. Hopefully we can prove this year that Tomas is not a super forecaster.

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