Top 6 HR Trends for 2019

The new year is upon us and it’s time for trend predictions. Here’s my top 6 HR trends for 2019 in no particular order:

1) company culture

As I’ve said before, HR should not own or drive company culture. We should be the gatekeepers and ambassadors — but the culture of the company is cultivated by its leaders and managers, and it belongs to everyone. When left to develop and evolve on its own, company culture is not likely to be positive or healthy. It’s up to HR to sound the alarm when the culture gets off track and to provide practical solutions for a better path.

2) HR IT

Not IT as in the department that provides system support — but IT meaning Intelligence Technology.

More than AI, Intelligence Technology is about service and analytics. It is about taking the goo-gobs of data we collect thru our HRIS, benefits and wellness initiatives, and survey programs — then applying what it tells us about our employee population, about their wants and needs on a individual and professional level. From there, we can develop initiatives and programming that actually serves them! If we’re not using the data we have to help our employees be their best selves, we’re never going to get the commitment and performance from them to advance the goals of our organization. HR IT is the vehicle to get us there — let’s drive it til the wheels fall off.

3) Flex Work

More than just the ability to work remotely, people want the ability to set their schedule and work at times that are optimal for them. This isn’t just true at the white-collar job level. It is just as needed and wanted for entry-level, blue-collar and service-industry jobs.

I have a friend whose son graduated college in the spring. He’s taking time off before starting law school in Fall 2019. He drives for Lyft, walks dogs for Wag, babysits and runs personal errands thru Care.com, and does some other project work thru Fiverr. He makes enough to pay rent and utilities and his car note and have a little fun when he wants. He still works about 8-10 hours a day on average between all his gigs — yet completely sets his own schedule and is perfectly content “being his own boss” while working for others.

Is that possible for everyone? No. But it is becoming more of a possibility as the older generations exit the workforce and more of the younger generations enter. Those of us in the middle generations are going to have to think differently about how we approach work schedules as our employee populations begin to skew toward a generation with different ideals about what work-life balance means. HR has an opportunity to get ahead of this curve. Let’s not waste it.

Which brings me to …

4) Paid Personal Leave

In addition to wanting more realistic scheduling to match the fullness of their lives, employees also want to get paid for the time they are fully away from work. Whether they are sick or had a personal appointment or had something on the family emergency spectrum or are taking a vacation, employees expect to be paid when they are not in the office. Many states are forcing companies to provide this benefit at a some minimal level thru paid sick, safe and family leave laws.

I believe most companies can do better than what is mandated and better still than what they’re currently offering voluntarily — without breaking the bank or rampant abuse! It takes commitment and creativity to excellent employee experience, versus the usual good-enough experience that we’ve gotten comfortable with providing.

I challenge HR to think critically about what more it can do between now and the end of the year to update policies to provide more comprehensive, equitable and useful paid time-off options for employees in the organizations where we serve. Attracting and retaining talent at all levels will depend on it.

5) #HashtagMovements

Social media is going to continue to be a momentum definer and shifter in our culture. Hashtag Movements like #MeTooMvmt, #TimesUp and #BlackLivesMatter are NOT going anywhere. We are going to see more of them and they are going to impact our workplaces in lots of ways. HR needs to be current on the prominent movements (NOTE: prominent not popular. Big difference) and think critically about the ways these can both impact the organization AND how the organization can support the movements which align with their MVVG.

The best organizations are socially conscious, progressive, and giving. HR should be appropriately positioning and advocating to ensure their organization develops their philanthropic side and is on the right side of history with their efforts. Unfortunately, there’s still far too much debate about what “the right side of history is for HR” for my taste. This is sad and scary — but not all that surprising given the world we live in. I challenge HR to answer this question more clearly in 2019, individually and collectively.

6) Weed

Marijuana is now legal for medicinal use in 23 states and recreational use in 10 more states and low THC/CBD oil use in 17 states, leaving only 4 states where marijuana is still fully illegal. Those 21 states all have proposed pending legislation being drafted and discussed that moves towards legalization. Y’alls President has also made statements that he intends to federally legalize marijuana in the US by the end of his first term.

Weed is the way of the future, my friends.

Not only is this going to create a billion-dollar industry with multi-million dollar sister-industries, it is also going to change how companies handle criminal background decision-making and drug screening in our workplaces. When and where weed is legal, we’re going to have to look at prior weed-related criminal charges much differently than we did before. And when and where weed is legal, we cannot evaluate test results for pre-employment, post-accident, or random screenings the same way. Just like with alcohol, our burden will become demonstrating reasonable conclusion that a person was intoxicated at work and/or that intoxication was a likely contributor to an egregious error or accident.

Our policies and most of the vendors who support our drug-free workplace programming are NOT ready for legalization of weed. We cannot afford to play catchup on this trend. Study up and have a plan, HR! Cuz when the haze clears, the problems are coming your way. Bless up and be ready.

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I keep saying no one is more prepared than HR to lead in this season. These complex employment issues are what we train for a dream about while pushing paper and standing on the sidelines.

The future and all the problems we’ve warned about are now. Let’s get to leading our organizations to innovative solutions!

Happy 2019, y’all! It is gonna be epic.

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