LOWELL, Mass.,

Following its annual board of advisors meeting, The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated identified the top trends that will impact the global workforce in 2018. Board members also recorded videos of personal predictions that they believe will shape the world of human resources (HR), human capital management (HCM), and workforce management this year.

Top Workplace Trends for 2018

1. Top organizations treat employee engagement as a financial strategy while thinking creatively about the employee experience. We’ve devoted billions of dollars to chasing the white whale of employee engagement – yet engagement has remained stagnant for decades worldwide. Worse, many C-level leaders are questioning the ROI of culture-driven investments on the bottom line. HR must change their vernacular to better connect engagement with business challenges while using operational data to show how engagement is financially driven (e.g. better productivity, fewer customer escalations, optimal scheduling, retention of top performers). Simultaneously, to attract and retain the best talent, employers must weigh all the different “currencies” accepted by today’s workers (e.g. pay, benefits, flexibility, learning and development, work environments, meaningful connection to the business, people, and the community), while thinking creatively about the entire employee experience lifecycle, matching expectations during the recruiting phase all the way through succession planning.

2. Employee appetite for accessible, applicable workplace data grows. Outside the workplace, people expect fast and easy access to information of all kinds – from nearby restaurants that have the highest reviews to recommended television shows to binge next. Yet when they get to work, good, valuable information across their organizations can be hard to access and near impossible to process in order to make an informed decision in the moment. Employers are increasingly expected to provide a consumer-grade technology experience in the workplace with one-touch access to information that helps employees – both laptop-toting and frontline workers – work smarter and work their way.

3. They’re here: Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning make HR and operations more strategic. Innovations in workforce management and HR software have simplified the delivery of data intelligence to help solve real business problems that directly impact an employee’s daily work routine. AI can dramatically speed up time-consuming, everyday tasks while proactively identifying potential compliance risks and employee burnout concerns before they become a problem. Machine learning algorithms deliver better forecasting while enabling technology to act as a digital consultant. Managers and employees alike must be properly trained to strategically utilize and, above all, trust this unprecedented ability to mine information, while transforming their daily responsibilities to accomplish more strategic tasks they didn’t have the time to complete before.

4. A focus on the human side of leadership. As innovations in workforce management and HR technology increasingly automate daily tasks, managers have more time to interact with employees than ever before. Yet many people managers are lost with these newfound opportunities for human interaction thanks to historically weak manager onboarding programs combined with years of hiding behind devices, remote work, and mountains of administrative tasks. Since people managers are the number one driver of the employee experience and, in turn, productivity, organizations must focus on programs to help managers forge relationships, develop their people, and build the courage it takes to be a great leader.

5. Retirement moves from a casual conversation to a full-blown crisis. Organizations aren’t prepared for the loss of inherent knowledge as thousands of Baby Boomers retire each day. Many Boomers plan to ease into retirement by working part-time hours or taking on an entirely new, lower-paying job with more meaning. Many more retirement-aged employees aren’t financially capable of leaving the workforce. The perfect storm created by these trends will challenge organizations to test their succession planning, deliver meaningful roles to employees sun-setting their careers, and maintain productivity and engagement of those employees who continue to work primarily because they can't afford to retire.

Board Members contributing to the 2018 Workforce Institute at Kronos predictions include:

  • David Almeda, chief people officer of Kronos Incorporated; Veronica Baz, founder of profesionistas.org.mx and former general director of the Center of Research for Development (CIDAC) in Mexico; Natalie Bickford, group HR director at Merlin Entertainments; Bob Clements, president at Axsium Group; David Creelman, CEO of Creelman Research; John Frehse, senior managing partner at Ankura Consulting Group, LLC; China Gorman, a human capital management consultant, speaker, and writer who is former CEO of the Great Place to Work® Institute and former COO of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM); John Hollon, editor at RecruitingDaily.com, award-winning journalist, and nationally recognized expert on leadership, talent management, and smart workforce practices; Sharlyn Lauby, The HR Bartender and president of ITM Group, Inc.; Joyce Maroney, executive director of The Workforce Institute at Kronos; Dennis Miller, chief employment officer at Cal Poly Pomona Foundation; Neil Reichenberg, executive director of IPMA-HR; Dan Schawbel, best-selling author and partner and research director at Future Workplace; and Mark Wales, workforce management industry advisor.
  • For a full list of Workforce Institute Advisory Board Members from the Americas, Europe, and China, please visit https://workforceinstitute.org/.

Supporting Resources

About The Workforce Institute at Kronos

The Workforce Institute at Kronos provides research and education on critical workplace issues facing organizations around the globe. By bringing together thought leaders, The Workforce Institute at Kronos is uniquely positioned to empower organizations with the knowledge and information they need to manage their workforce effectively and provide a voice for employees on important workplace issues. A hallmark of The Workforce Institute’s research is balancing the needs and desires of diverse employee populations with the needs of organizations. For additional information, visit www.workforceinstitute.org.


About Kronos Incorporated

Kronos is a leading provider of workforce management and human capital management cloud solutions. Kronos industry-centric workforce applications are purpose-built for businesses, healthcare providers, educational institutions, and government agencies of all sizes. Tens of thousands of organizations — including half of the Fortune 1000® — and more than 40 million people in over 100 countries use Kronos every day. Visit www.kronos.com. Kronos: Workforce Innovation That Works.

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