2018 HR Strategies in Review: Our Most Read Blogs This Year

two employees talking to each other

Retention and recruitment are always in vogue. But record-and-dropping unemployment and never-before-seen job vacancies have given both new urgency. Not surprisingly, one of our most popular 2018 blogs had the words “quit” and “what to do about it” in the title.

As the year winds down, we’re looking at five of the top insights people wanted to know about in 2018:

Employees say, We’re Outta Here!

A record quit rate is only one piece of today’s news: slow-growing payrolls and fast-growing benefits are two others. It adds up to even part-timers cleaning up. “One grocery store is paying for even part-time people to go to school,” wrote our own Jonathan Corke in July’s The Quit Rate is Up: What to Do About It. “Another company made news for its $100-million investment in employee development.” The U.S. unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in decades, added NPR. “That means companies from restaurants to engineering firms are being forced to find new and creative ways to lure workers.”

Use Vacation for Good

After years of decline, vacation is up – a whole .4 days. Hey – a rise is a rise. But Project Time Off says we could be doing better. What’s to blame? Perhaps it's the mixed messages employees are receiving about vacation. “The employee handbook may say vacation is encouraged,” we wrote in May’s, Employee Vacation is a Benefits: We need to Start Treating it that Way. “But In 2017, more than a quarter of employees told Project Time Off they believe vacation would make them look less dedicated. And bosses aren’t stepping up to say otherwise.” Employees work better after a few vacation days. So the time is right to do a better job, lest employees burn out…or say “I quit!” (see above).

Search, Financial Wellness

This one is not a single post, but rather a series of them, all with a single theme; money. Seems people are searching Financial Wellness – no surprise since money problems sink job performances as well as budgets. Sean McCarthy’s advice -- If you Want to Get People to Save More for 401ks, Stop Focusing on 401ks was a key insight. “Employer retirement matches,” he wrote in October, “aren’t going to help employee financial wellness if people have nothing leftover every month for their employer to match.” A better bet – focus on college debt and helping people grow into better jobs. “You’ll know you’ve made an impact,” said our own CHRO Maribeth Bearfield of a phenomenon we’ve experienced here at Bright Horizons, “when you see your 401k participation start to go up.”

Who’s Watching the Children?

A big piece of 2018 news is who’s having children – specifically, more 30+ year olds with lots of institutional knowledge. So it’s no surprise that people were paying close attention to May’s story on success metrics in On-Site Child Care, An Eye-Opener for Employers. “Home Depot employees are now better able to focus on their jobs knowing their kids are safe and receiving a quality early education,” wrote Slate. “They also lose less work time when participating in school activities.” A conversation we expect to see more of in 2019.

Don’t Shop for Skills – Build Them

The latest news in education is paying 100% of employees’ college degrees. Our own COO’s Why We’re Paying for Our Teacher’s Education answered the question, “Why?” “Everything we do in our centers comes back to the teachers,” wrote Bright Horizons Mary Lou Burke Afonso. “They’re the ones in the classrooms. They’re the ones boldly bringing our curriculum to life. We want to give them every opportunity to be their best…and to be the best. And that’s why we’re paying for our teacher’s education.” Word in HR strategies is it's the start of a trend throughout industries, from tech to healthcare.

2018 also saw lots of news about women in business, retaining working dads, and what the future of HR strategies will look like. But with career growth at the top of employees’ wish lists, the big goal seems to be avoiding The 5 Words You Never Want Employees to Say: “I’m just not learning anything.” It’s a retention killer if ever there was one. Tune in in 2019 as we continue to tackle that one.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Written by: Lisa Oppenheimer

About the Author

Lisa Oppenheimer at Bright Horizons

As Director, Brand Storytelling at Bright Horizons, Lisa writes “from the trenches” about the real life challenges of people in today’s workplaces: from the tensions of being a working mother, to working with millennials in the digital age, and everything in between. With a career ranging from freelance to full-time, Lisa brings a diverse employment background to her perspective.