12 HR Predictions for 2019

By Amit Sidhpura

AI in HR was one of the hottest topics of 2018, and it’s likely to dominate again in 2019. I asked several HR analysts and thought leaders what they think this year will hold – AI came up several times, as did personalized experiences, skills development, and inclusion. Predicting the future isn’t easy, but when you watch an industry as closely as many of the following experts do, their insights on trends can help HR teams chart a course aligned with where things are most likely headed. Here are the predictions from more than a dozen HR industry watchers on what will be different (or the same) in 2019.

Josh Bersin, Founder of Bersin by Deloitte, Analyst, and Author: “In a year of increased automation and AI, helping people reinvent themselves may be the number one key to prosperity in your company and in society as a whole. Whether the economy grows or stalls, people are being forced into new roles so the ability to continuously learn is central to success. From an HR standpoint, this means building a culture of learning, incenting managers to develop and move people, and giving people opportunities to express their personal goals through their work. New software tools that deliver micro-learning, assess adjacent skills, and identify people for the right role through AI are now here to help.” (from Talent, Technology, and HR Predictions for 2019)

To hear more from Josh about the role of AI in the workplace, register for Think 2019 in San Francisco, February 12 – 15.

Daria Friedman, Principal Analyst,Talent Acquisition, and Cliff Stevenson, Principal Analyst, Workforce Management, Brandon Hall Group: “Over the next few years, data science, including artificial intelligence, natural language processing, and robotic process automation, is going to transform every aspect of talent acquisition, from both a user and candidate experience perspective. Quality candidates will be automatically sourced, nurtured, and assessed. Recruiters and hiring managers will have the needed insight about each candidate to effectively conduct the interview and make an evidence-based hiring decision. Each candidate will be automatically be updated about their status and shepherded throughout the hiring process. Onboarding will evolve to a personalized learning experience to address each new hire’s skill gaps and each new hire will be provided with the tools and resources needed to chart their own career path at the organization. Because of the level of automation and algorithm-driven recommendations, people skills including emotional intelligence and critical thinking will be just as important as deep understanding of statistical analysis. The ability to read between the lines and understand the human elements and stories behind the data will be the most important skills for people managers in the coming years.”

Madeline Laurano, Founder and Principal Analyst, Aptitude Research: “Companies need to communicate with candidates in a more meaningful way and through more effective tools in the next year. In our latest research, companies using bots to communicate with candidates were two times more likely to fill positions within two weeks and companies using text were two times more likely to improve first year retention rates.”

Jim Lundy, CEO and Lead Analyst, Aragon Research: “By YE 2021, 40% of enterprises will deploy voice-based learning assistants for critical roles such as sales, service, and customer success. Learning on-the-go will be faster and enhanced due to the nature of getting answers and know-how while mobile.“ (from Aragon Research’s Top 10 Predictions for 2019: A Look Forward to the Next 5 Years)

Stacey Harris, VP, Research and Analytics, Sierra-Cedar: “Data from Sierra-Cedar’s 2018-2019 HR Systems Survey, 21st Annual Edition shows that in 2019, North American headquartered organizations will be spending more of their HR Technology budgets on replacing outdated recruiting, learning, and performance applications to align with their data management and cultural strategies. In Europe and Asia Pacific, headquartered organizations will be spending more of their budgets on replacing or putting in place new core HRMS environments that allow them to aggregate employee data for regulation purposes and to meet employee expectations for mobile consumer-like experience with their employers. Organizations around the globe will begin to rethink their HR technology ecosystem, figuring out the best ways to seamlessly plug niche HR applications in the areas of communications, wellness, compensation/payments, and intelligent planning applications.” 

Mervyn Dinnen, HR & Talent Trends Analyst, Two Heads Consulting: “Employees want to learn new skills and develop. It’s the reason they join a business and why they stay. My research shows that skill development is more important to them than salary and bonus, and also that they want to take control over how, when and what they learn. And they expect the business to support them. In 2019 I believe that more HR teams will start to take employee development very seriously, creating a culture of learning that gives employees the control and access they want for development and performance. The business imperative is there for HR – it will be the only way to attract, hire and retain the talent they need to achieve commercial outcomes.” 

Chris Havrilla, VP, Head of HR Technology & Solution Provider Strategy and Research Practice, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP: “I strongly believe in a movement of ‘teams leading teams’ that we talk about in Deloitte’s 2018 Global Human Capital Trends report.  I see this as critical for HR leaders to help facilitate as they embark on the transformation necessary for the future of work. As digital and workforce disruption and competitive issues continue, this new ‘symphonic C-suite’ will focus on becoming as team-centric, networked, and agile as sales, operations, and other functional areas of the organization have already become to address complex issues businesses face. Eight-five percent of our study’s respondents rated C-suite collaboration as important or very important, ranking it the most pressing human capital issue for organizations in our study. Additionally, we found that organizations with the highest level of CxO cross-collaboration were the most likely to anticipate growth of 10 percent or more.”

Ben Eubanks, Principal Analyst, Lighthouse Research & Advisory, and Author, Artificial Intelligence for HR: Use AI to Support and Develop a Successful Workforce: “Artificial intelligence isn't coming to HR – it's already here. And employers have a choice to make: do we try to make work more human, or do we automate the humanity out of it? Any great HR leader can tell you that creating a great employee experience doesn't happen by accident. It takes intentional effort to make it work. We know that AI can help to automate work, but it can also help to create deeply personalized experiences in learning, talent acquisition, and engagement. This is the year that we make work more human through the adoption and utilization of AI technology.” 

Gerry Crispin, Founder, CareerXroads: “Unconscious bias will expand its impact on TA and HR outcomes as more and more prospects, candidates and employees are influenced by new, measurable, objective and totally independent indexes of employer ‘rankings’ of their respective hiring practices and treatment of employees as it relates to gender, ethnicity, disability, etc. In the past, an employer's brand might have been influenced by the company's thoughtful investment in attending appropriate conferences and buying relevant advertising in diverse publications to make their ‘good guy’ lists. That may be a thing of the past for companies wanting to look good but failing to put serious investment in improving their culture vis-a-vis bias. One only needs to take a look at the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index to see the direction this may take.”

Kevin W. Grossman, President and Board Member, Talent Board: “Per our global Talent Board Candidate Experience Awards benchmark research – candidate experience, employer branding, and recruitment marketing will be the top three recruiting initiatives for 2019. And talent acquisition leaders and their teams will accomplish these by improving their internal processes and efficiencies, followed by implementing new technologies, and keep current staffing. Technology will also continue to be a powerful ally when it comes to communicating and engaging with candidates and texting is one form of communication that will continue to increase, as well as career site chat bots and candidate recommendation algorithms.”

Mark Willaman, Founder and Chief Customer Advocate, Rhonda Taylor, Vice President, and Eric Anderson, Content Development and Marketing, HRmarketer: “Last year's $7.7+ billion in HR funding will be difficult to match in 2019, but with the continued rise in applied AI and people tech, HR funding will remain strong, albeit somewhat slower, with solid M&A activity. Also, look for more laws regulating artificial intelligence — due to concerns about potential bias, lack of transparency, etc. How such laws will impact HR is uncertain, but with HR's increasing focus on data-driven decisions and using AI, it's almost certain that HR and HR technologies will be impacted.”

Debbie McGrath, Founder and Chief Instigator, HR.com: “2019 will be an action-packed year for HR. In a labor market that continues to be tight, HR is under a lot of pressure to hire great talent that their organizations can engage and retain. Although HR departments are more likely to grow than to shrink in 2019, HR.com’s research shows that most (66%) will stay about the same size. That means, they'll need to become more productive if they want to meet all the demands placed on them. Therefore, they'll increasingly investigate and leverage new technologies – many of them driven by some form of artificial intelligence – in order to automate and, more importantly, augment HR capabilities.” 


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