2016 Trends in Human Resources

HR Trends

What are your employee's pain points? Years ago, business leaders might have merely asked, "What are the business' pain points?" These days people throughout the organization know you can't solve one without understanding the other.

As we finish up the second quarter of 2016, two events - Human Resource Executive's Health & Benefits Leadership Conference and Solutions at Work LIVE - got HR leaders from across the country talking about human capital concerns. What are three trends in human resources that top the list?

Financial Wellness: Six Key Questions to Ask Yourself

Money today is recognized as more than just salary.

While tomorrow's retirement has garnered most employers' attention, it's today's money issues - living paycheck to paycheck, spending more than one earns, and the inability to save, for example - that are the bigger problems for employees. There was even a question about whether employers should be encouraging 401K savings when employees are running short for today's expenses.

With financial stress a known contributor to absenteeism and productivity dips, there was a lot of talk about elements such as credit scores and retirement health as relevant points to measure. But while financial wellness programs are topping trends in human resources, as with all undertaking, it's critical to consider goals and success metrics upfront.

Six questions discussed by HR leaders seeking to address employees' financial wellness:

  • What is our vision for financial wellness?
  • What is our philosophy?
  • What are our objectives?
  • How will we measure success?
  • How will we tie those measurements to business goals and results both short-term and long-term?
  • What resources are needed to create the program, manage it over time and communicate it frequently?

Depression at Work: Moving in the Right Direction

Depression is becoming a prevalent issue for employees and there's growing awareness that it needs to be better addressed in the workplace. At the recent HR Executive Conference, Zappos offered a thoughtful presentation on its work with Right Direction, a new tool provided by the American Psychiatric Foundation and the Employers Health Coalition.

The conversation was compelling. Depression is known as the leading cause of disability worldwide and inaction has costs for everyone. The free, turnkey Right Direction initiative is fully customizable, and designed to collaborate with a company's EAP to help employers create awareness of depression, spot the signs, and reduce the stigma among people who may be suffering. 

Right Direction resources include:

  • Launch materials to introduce the program to the workforce
  • A nine-question self-assessment to help individuals identify and understand depression
  • A field guide for step-by-step implementation
  • A researcher-developed evaluation guide to help employers measure success and track impact
In addition to assistance for employees, the program provides information to make the business case to leadership.

Trends in Human Resources: Healthier Work Environments

Design is a growing interest within HR. The big question discussed at the Human Resources Executive conference: how can we change the sedentary nature of our meetings/ work processes/ learning environments to promote better health outcomes?

It's a fascinating area of evolution that considers evidence based design (basing environment decisions on credible research, an approach commonly used in healthcare), how design impacts human behavior, and how the workplace environment and conditions affect the well-being of employees.

An HR Executive session moderated by American Heart Association's Kristi Durazo laid out 10 Key Factors in Evidence Based Design:

  • Activity
  • Water
  • Nutrition
  • LEED Certified/ Environmental Quality (QE)
  • Interactions with nature
  • Acoustics
  • Lighting
  • Ergonomics
  • Autonomy
  • Feedback Loops
Some of the most compelling areas of discussion involved how workplace design can even impact food choices via how food is available, what kind of social engagement is supported by design, and how people interact while they're eating.

A Final Note on 2016 Trends

Those are just a few of today's HR hot buttons. And much of it marks the continued evolution of HR from wellness to overall employee well-being. We'll be looking at some of them more closely in the weeks to come. And look for some soon-to-be released research on financial wellness trends in human resources, specifically student loan debt and how it's impacting the workforce - and you.

Written by: Andrea Wicks Bowles

About the Author

Andrea Wicks Bowles at Bright Horizons

As Senior Consultant, Director Global Initiatives, Horizons Workforce Consulting, Andrea works with Bright Horizons clients to enhance the effectiveness of their employees and strengthen their position as an employer of choice. Her knowledge of global child care policies, organizational effectiveness, and work/life industry trends combined with analytical skills is used to help clients uncover their unique issues and challenges. Andrea, a frequent speaker at work/life conferences, is a key contributor to Bright Horizons' research investigations.