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Trends and Hot Topics for 2017 - Summary of a Dozen Predictions

January is the month of predictions.  All the great and good in any particular field some out with their forecast, hot topics, or trends for the coming year.  And the HR and Talent Management area is not any different than the rest.  In January my mission was to read as many of these predictions and see if any themes were emerging or exciting new trends for 2017.

I have read many prediction articles, and out of those, I picked 12 as the “best in class” articles.  The definition of “best in class” is a personal one.  For me the criteria included; easy to read and identify the trends, the author or publication has a reputation in the industry, and published before the 30th January.  The full list of who I considered in my analysis is at the end of the article.

The process used to determine the top trends was simple.  Read the article and then categorise the trend.  In many cases, I have taken a prediction that had a very creative label and put it into a grouping with a less creative name.  An example of this would be “Programming the Robot: The Changing Roles of the Vital Many” got categorised under Robotics, AI and Software Automation (RAISA).

With all the process explanation out of the way here are my findings.

The top trend, having been included in 11 out of the 12 articles is employee/candidate experience (sometimes called consumerisation) was by far the most frequently mentioned trend.  The HR Institute had the best definition of this trend

“People are more and more expecting an experience at work that is comparable to the experience they have at home. …The “Employee Experience” is very much related to this trend. The organisations that consciously design a positive employee experience, for the complete life cycle of an employee, are still scarce.”


At second, in 7 out of 12 postings, Gig workers, contingent labour, workforce planning and all things that have to do with different types of employment models.  Jeanne Meister in a Forbes article has the best definition for this top trend.

The blended workforce is on the rise. In the past five years, the gig economy has become a significant trend impacting the global labour force and has created a new kind of diversity, with full-time permanent employees working side-by-side with freelancers. A study exploring the gig economy found that 93% of companies already identify the blended workforce as they’re seeing freelance workers teaming up with employees to work on projects together.


There two trends were by far the most referenced in all 12 articles, with greater than 10% of the posts picking one or both of these as a top trend in 2017.

The next group of common trends is a grouping of seven trends that all scored with four out of 12 or one-third of the articles picking it as a major trend for 2017.  This grouping includes: -

Culture – especially culture as a way of attracting and retaining employees.  There were also several references to creating a diverse, inclusive and ethical culture.  Some could argue that culture readily sits with employee experience, but I see it is different and warrants a unique listing.

Creative benefits including Wellness – Transforming the benefits programmes globally is an emerging trend, and wellness as a category is getting more blog space.

Performance Review – in 2016 there were 100’s of articles regarding the death of the annual performance review.  This theme will continue into 2017, including many who are now saying we should not conclude that the annual performance review is dead.

Team Performance versus Individual – I found this an interesting new trend.  Again, the Forbes article had an excellent summary of this emerging trend – “One of the most fascinating trends, despite the rise of the gig economy, is the emphasis of teamwork regardless of employment situation, industry or politics in a company. While individuals have their own career agenda, companies are now structured with teams because high performing teams will enable them to compete for the future.”

Workplace – one-third of the articles mentioned a trend around the workplace.  I have grouped them all together into one trend but the predictions were varied ranging from HQ locations (where they will be in the future) to office dress policies to what type of future and layout is most conducive to the current workforce.

Robotics and AI – again a trend that was hot in 2016 and continues into 2017.

People Analytics and Big Data – this could all be grouped up into RAISA, but I did feel that the trends various writers mentioned had these two areas as being different.  People Analytics was a trend in 2016 and I believe will get even bigger in 2017.

The final group of trends were the “one offs”, meaning that only one article mentioned this area as a potential trend for 2017.  The one-offs areas include: -

HR Agility – this had the press in 2016, and only two articles mentioned it as a potential trend for 2017.

Gen Z – yes I know we just finished having 1000’s of stories on Millennials

Diversity – there was only one article that referenced diversity as a trend.  Not sure if this should be worrying about the fact this does not appear more often?

Learning – there are lots of articles on talent management but very little in respect to core learning and what the future might be.  Maybe specialist posts include this, but I have not found anything that gives some great new insights or trends around core learning and development.

Baby Boomers Make a Comeback – a potentially very interesting trend in 2017

Cloud – only one writer reference Cloud as a continuing trend for HR.  I know HR is not doing moving to the cloud and taking up the benefits associated with that type of HRTech, so I am pretty sure this will continue as a trend just not so interesting to write about anymore.

There you have it, the summary of several hours/days of searching through the leaders of HR writing and blogging to cull the top most mentioned trends for 2017.  As we are 30 days into the year, we now have 335 before we know if any of these were true or not.

Go Well Learn and Prosper in 2017.

Article Written by Mary Sue Rogers

Prediction Articles  the Top 12 (in no specific order)

Human Resource Today

Forbes Dan Schawbel

Josh Bersin


Forbes Jeanne Meister

Biz Community


Jason Averbook

HR Drive

Fast Company


HR Institute


Posted On : 30-01-17

Commented by:  mary sue rogers

Gary - thanks for the observations and you are right my top trends are much more relevant for the bigger organisations. You have added some very good insights in respect to the SME market and Australia - thank you

Posted On : 01-02-17

Commented by:  Gary Kendrick

Hi Mary Sue....great reading as always, however I do think there is a tendency from the institutions and bodies above to concentrate on bigger business with 200+ employees. Taking Australia as an example according to the ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics)there are less than 5,000 companies in Australia with more than 200 employees yet there are in excess of 750,000 companies with less than 200 employees with the majority at the smaller end of the spectrum. My own observations dealing now specifically in the SME space for the last 2 years I think the trend is towards better communication and engagement with employees and this is now moving towards being structured, consistent, regular and with time for grat feedback and ideas generation, therefore an appraisal process is there and does 'SAVE' re inventing the wheel or new process, however not just the once a year review, this is now by project milestones, weekly 1-2-1 sessions, monthly meetings to review the 30 days past and the next 30 days, plus more formality in the 1/4 ly, 6 monthly or annual review processes. Finally I would add that most small or medium businesses have not entered this arena and therefore a cloud based service specifically tailored price and function wise with ease of use at it's core with active suggestive text does ensure instant usable results.

Posted On : 31-01-17

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