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HR Leaders Weigh-In On Top Human Capital Management Priorities and Trends

By Susan Hanold, PhD., Vice President, Strategic Advisory Services

A few weeks ago at the ADP Meeting of the Minds conference, more than 1,000 HR leaders gathered in San Diego to gain insights into the latest human capital management (HCM) trends. During the educational sessions I led, I had the pleasure of interacting with decision makers at some of ADP’s largest clients. They shared their feedback on topics including performance management, learning, diversity and inclusion, multi-generational workforce trends and employee engagement.

During the session titled “Transform Your Learning Culture into an Engaging Learning Ecosystem”, attendees took part in an interactive exercise answering the question: “What is the top learning priority for your organization?”

The responses I received provided great insight into what’s really drawing the attention of HR practitioners today. It was interesting to find that while the top priority remained the same as last year, two new items jumped to the second and third slots. In order of importance, the top priorities are:

1) Leadership Development – For the second year in a row, Leadership Development was the top priority as organizations look for increased training that focuses on improving leadership skills of their employees. Providing leadership training that aligns with business goals has been shown to improve an organization’s business performance, directly impacting the bottom line. Yet, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employers with fewer than 100 employees provided only 12 minutes of manager training every six months. And organizations with 100 to 500 employees provided only six minutes of training in the same time span. With so many self-guided e-learning programs available today, companies are realizing the need to more efficiently and effectively train their future leaders.

2) Engagement – Last year, onboarding and orientation took the number two spot; this year we heard from attendees that employee engagement is increasingly important. That’s not surprising, since only 32 percent of employees in the United States are engaged, according to Gallup®. Some initiatives attendees are working on to increase engagement include creating business resource groups and culture committees.

3) Retention – This year retention edged out “establishing job-based learning paths” as the third priority. Retention goes hand in hand with engagement. Those employees who are involved, enthusiastic and committed to their work are going to be the most likely to stay. Retained employees help companies drive success in the markets they serve.

Another interesting finding from polls conducted during the sessions revealed the organizational progress made implementing diversity and inclusion plans. Attendees were evenly split on their progress. One third of the attendees said they were just beginning, another third had started developing a plan and the final third had a formalized strategy that they were cascading through the organization.

On the performance management front, attendees had interesting replies when asked, “What changes are you planning to make to your performance management system?” The top two responses were 1) make changes to goal-setting and 2) change the whole process, including the rating scale, and increase feedback loops.

If you’re thinking about making changes to your performance management process, consider the following:

  • Focus on other changes besides removing ratings unless you’re willing to make significant investments
  • Change performance reviews to look ahead, not back
  • Include peer reviews, not just manager feedback
  • Provide ongoing performance feedback
  • Meeting with HR leaders at ADP Meeting of the Minds every year is truly an enlightening experience. Getting the chance to hear about their HCM priorities, and see how they change year to year, is incredibly insightful and is helpful information we can use to help provide best practices and educate our clients on how to be better equipped to take on the top HR challenges of tomorrow.

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