HR Trends to Watch Out This Year!

New Year – New HR. Will that be the case or will we continue along the well-trodden path? Technology keeps dragging us forward.

Just a little while ago we said our goodbyes to the previous year, and full of hope we welcomed 2018. Yes… another year has passed yet HR transformations continue to shape the workplace. Although 2018 will most likely not bring any striking modifications, one thing is clear –  technology will remain the main catalyst for changes.

Employment Trends Credit:
Employment trends / Credit:

As companies seek efficiency, high performance and cost-effectiveness to gain competitive advantage, there is still plenty of room for improvement for HR departments. The new year is going to be a mix of technology advancements and changes in our mindset on how we lead and oversee our companies’ workforce and operations. With that in mind, let’s have a look at 10 biggest trends awaiting HR world in 2018:

1# Understanding the employee

For a long time work culture has been quite constant –  do everything to please the boss – leaving the employee secondary. However, slowly but steadily employee experience is becoming more important. Employers begin to realise that employees are the force driving the company to success, therefore hearing and understanding their wishes, needs and capabilities help build a high performing and resilient workforce.

What is the employer and employee brand? According to some experts, those brands have become synonymous with “brand” overall.

Jim Link, CHRO of Randstad North America, admits that HR is undergoing some dramatic changes in the way talent is identified.  “More employees, especially younger workers, are seeking individualised, tailored career experiences from their employers — and employers aren’t especially good at this yet,” said Jim Link. Although we aren’t quite there yet, 2018 is an opportunity to sharpen up that employee experience and care for your talents like never before!

2# Working remotely

Employees are no longer tied to their office jobs; instead, technology enables employees to choose a more flexible work.  Be it working from home, a coffee shop or indulging in a nomadic lifestyle. Such trend is especially popular among young professionals from the United States and Europe. Although the productivity of remote workers has been a hot topic, studies have shown that compared to their office counterparts, remote workers manage to get done more.

Compared to their office counterparts, remote workers manage to get done more

Moreover, a report by State of American Workplace has shown that the volume of employees who have worked by telecommuting has risen to 44% (from 39% in 2012) and a forecast of employment trends by the World Economic Forum consider flexible work as one of the main drivers of workplace transformation.

3# Being unable to secure a safe position in the marketplace

That’s right! No company is safe! With emerging of new products and services as well as the rapid evolution of technology, boundaries between markets blur. Even the largest companies will not be able to protect their business; unconventional approach will be needed to maintain your company’s status. A small start-up could turn the whole industry upside-down. 2018 will require CEOs and their teams to be alert and constantly up-to-date with the latest novelties.

4# Blind hiring

Bias in the workplace has been a common issue in many companies. Key information about candidate’s background (gender, age, race, etc.) is subject to unconscious bias during typical screening and interviewing process. Moreover, recruiting decisions may be affected by mutual liking. However, when hiring is a blind process, any info revealing demographic data is excluded. Thus, the first impression is purely based on candidate’s abilities and achievements.

Will blind hiring become the interview of the future?

Canada recently launched a blind hiring pilot project removing candidates’ names before their applications get reviewed. Their goal is to increase workplace diversity by promoting gender and ethnic equality. There’s even a recruiting software built to automate screening and anonymize candidates.

5. Creating employee experience through Wearables

Employees are now just as important (if not more) as customers, and businesses are looking for opportunities to use wearable devices (smartwatches, fitness trackers) as powerful HR tools. Promoting healthy lifestyle, enhancing workplace safety are just some of the benefits wearable device trend can bring. Wearables allow employers to track their employee behaviour which then contributes to better communication, optimized office space and potentially better organization within the company.

Smart patches
Smart patches

Interested to see what’s in store for 2018? Here are 50 wearable tech predictions for 2018!

6# Trusting algorithms

Should you go with your gut feeling or trust algorithms? The use of algorithms in recruitment is increasing.  HR seniors may not be particularly happy about the idea of relying on algorithms, however, it is proven to be much more reliable than a biased human instinct. For example, a leading American bank is using algorithms on digital resumes to identify candidates with the bank’s preferred traits.  Interesting that the same technology can be used to make sure that the human interviewers are not overlooking strong applicants.

Success in HR is down to making the right decisions and plans about important people matters

The truth is… as HR becomes more sophisticated due to being a data-driven force, HR will require more talented analytical professionals. Millennials are actively devoting themselves to work yet a lot of seniors are not ready to retire. Therefore, managing roles will require new sets of skills and way of thinking to avoid the clash between generations.

7# Bringing passive candidates in the spotlight

Unfortunately, many employers prefer applicants that are currently employed over those who are not working. The reason is the fear of making a mistake by choosing the wrong fit. Applicants are judged by their employment status which does not indicate any talents or capabilities of the individual.  Social media, search of hashtags, sub-forums and other means of online communication is a convenient and simple way of identifying a talent. That way recruiters can gain a better understanding of what they are looking for as well as whether the potential candidate is ready for changes.

Here are 3 useful ways how to secure top talent and using social media is one of them!

8# Technology pushing out workforce

HR is about to experience a decrease in the number of jobs thus leading to shrinking HR teams. Manufacturing and manual labour are no longer the only sectors in danger. Many positions like travel agents, flight attendants, librarians and others are the most endangered and risking to be taken over by AI. While it may seem alarming for some, bringing HR and robots together can help ease minor issues and let teams achieve greater things.

As teams become smaller due to increasing technology advancement, top HR professionals will be required to transform organisations

Read more about how technology advancements will affect future of HR here.  Where does this leave the human workforce? In 2018, companies must evaluate their HR department and determine appropriate future positions. As the team becomes smaller, top HR professionals will be required to transform the organisation.  

9# Focusing on wellness

HR departments are beginning to realize the importance of a healthy work-life balance.

57% of people with high health risk reached low-risk status by completing a worksite cardiac rehabilitation and exercise program

Within the next year employers will encourage their employees to leave the work behind the office door. Moreover, personal and financial stress has always been an issue within an organisation. Studies have shown that healthy employees cost less, therefore, increasing number of companies are looking for ways to help reduce employee stress by working financial and mental health into their designed wellness programs.

10# Racing to digitalise HR

This is possibly the most important trend – digitalisation of the workplace itself. Nowadays almost every company is undergoing digital transformation.  Every aspect of a business can now be transformed with Cloud, mobile computing, AI and increasing automation. In a survey conducted by Fortune, CEOs were asked whether they believed that their company was a “technology company”. The results revealed that 67% of the respondents said yes which is not shocking at all. With the growing number of mobile phones and necessity for computers, in 2018 we will all plunge deeper into the Digital Era.

67% of survey respondents said that they believed that their company was a “technology company”

As we enter 2018, it is inevitable that technology-driven trends will have an impact on further shaping the HR industry. After all, the expectations are high, and all the efforts are made to create a slightly better workplace.

Many of the above discussed trends have emerged in the past yet they will continue to transform HR.   These are only some of the predictions for 2018 but they are definitely worth bearing in mind.

To sum up, here are the 10 HR trends to watch out for in 2018:

  • Understanding the employee
  • Working remotely
  • Being unable to secure a safe position in the marketplace
  • Blind hiring
  • Creating employee experience through Wearables
  • Trusting algorithms
  • Bringing passive candidates in spotlight
  • Technology pushing out workforce
  • Focusing on wellness
  • Racing to digitalise HR


We at CakeHR stay on top of the latest HR trends as it is important for us to know what are the challenges and opportunities our customers are focusing on, so they can leave the management of HR data and day-to-day errands to CakeHR. The time-off, calendar, employee data and reports’ management and production are CakeHR’s currently more popular functions, however we are about to add brand new vital and exciting modules to the existing ones – timesheets, onboarding and performance management, just to name a few!

Written By

Norberts Erts

HR Degen and Product Marketing Manager at Sage. Former Co-founder of HR software company CakeHR (acquired by The Sage Group plc in 2019). Keep a sharp eye on HR, marketing, business, finance, science, technology, and the connections between them.