The Future of HR? Focus on Engagement & Learning

Modern business is much more than the open floor plans, nap rooms, and ping pong tables that are now prevalent in so many companies. Now, more than ever, employees look for job opportunities that appeal to their lifestyle and career goals. This means human resources management needs to reflect those changing priorities as well.

How does a modern human resources department attract top talent? Engagement, agility, and team development are three worthwhile investments when building a culture that improves both the business’s bottom line and the lives of its employees.

The top HR trend is employee engagement

Jeanne Meister, founding partner at the HR advisory and research firm Future Workplace, says that creating a compelling and engaging employee experience is becoming one of the most important trends in HR for companies for the next few years. She defines employee engagement with a quote from Susan Peters, SVP, Human Resources at General Electric:

We define employee experience simply as seeing the world through the eyes of our employees, staying connected, and being aware of their major milestones… We are developing a strategy to create an employee experience which takes into account the physical environment our employees work in, the tools and technologies that enable their productivity, and learning to achieve their best at work.

In short, companies should give employees the tools and environment they need to succeed in their roles.

When companies invest in “tools and technologies that enable productivity and learning,” the result is two-fold. The first and most obvious point is that enabled employees do better work, which has a positive effect on a company’s bottom line. That “better” can mean a lot of things: more sales, happier customers, or better development. Second, a company’s dedication to intentionally developing people attracts talent. As companies increasingly compete for top talent, prospective employees will demand learning, training, and development programs that truly benefit them.

Agile approach to employee development and recruitment

“Agile” is a word already familiar to startup CEOs and software developers, but Jeanne sees this approach to work and time management as one of the future trends in HR. “An agile approach is typically used in software development to operate with speed and manage unpredictability,” she says. “This approach is now being used to recruit and develop employees.”

In Jeanne’s research, she’s seen multiple enterprise-level companies create “intrapreneurs” whose sole task is building learning functions focused on speed, access, and measurement of learning metrics:

What they did differently was apply an agile approach to corporate learning by making it easy for employees to find, rate, tag, and consume learning. They saw their job as learning curators rather than content creators. Companies like IBM, Visa, MasterCard, Adidas, and General Electric, to name just a few, are adopting new intelligent digital platforms to create a Netflix-like experience for corporate learners.

With the “agile” mindset, these learning curators make it easy for employees to find the information that they need, when they need it. In this sense, agile also refers to the speed that content can be updated and pushed to employees. It’s a waste of time to spend months building a training module if the content changes before it ever reaches the team. That’s why modern companies need learning tools that can be updated quickly to ensure teams always have the information they need.

Measure team development, not individual performance

Jeanne points out that for too long, HR focus has been on individual development instead of the big picture. Overall team development is becoming a primary focus of companies and their HR departments, and that’s thanks to new technologies:

While HR departments have traditionally focused on individual employees—recruiting them, developing them, and assessing their performance—we are seeing the advent of a new capability, one of developing team intelligence, or the practice of understanding what makes great teams deliver exceptional results.

Jeanne advises companies to “put the lens of team dynamics” on the entire organization. Individual improvement is important, but forward-thinking leaders need to prioritize the dynamic of team development.

Consider a sales team receiving enablement training. With Lessonly, companies and managers track individual improvement and learning. But we also give company leaders the ability to tie those learning moments to the quota attainment of the team. Until recently, tracking this return on investment of learning has been difficult to quantify, but tools like Lessonly connect learning, individual performance, and team performance together into efforts that make the entire organization better.

These are just a few of the HR trends that Jeanne foresees as the future of HR and HR software. The common theme? A more robust and intentional focus on learning.

Employee engagement begins with team learning

Progressive companies use team learning tools like Lessonly to provide their employees with the tools they need to do their best work. See how it works with a self-guided, five-step tour of our team learning software. Sign up today.

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