2018: A New Approach to the Employee Journey

According to Randstad, HR's top challenge today is finding and retaining employees in an increasingly competitive talent market. To meet this challenge, HR leaders are adopting new ways of thinking about processes and policies.

In 2018, the employee journey will undoubtedly be a major concern for HR leaders. To win the war for talent, these leaders must create employee experiences that support employees at every step of the way, from recruiting and onboarding to career development and transition.

To understand what is driving this new approach to the employee experience, it is important to look at a few global workplace trends that have emerged over the last decade:

1. The Rise of the 'Employee Relationship' Economy

The dynamics of employer/employee relationships have changed significantly in the last few years. Social media has created a window into each and every organization, presenting employees with the chance to share how they think and feel about their employers in real time. Company cultures are no longer isolated within the walls of businesses. Instead, your culture is a part of your brand, and candidates can see what it's like before they even apply.

Today, HR teams – including recruiters and talent acquisition leaders – are responsible for investing time and resources in the creation of positive company cultures where satisfied employees share positive sentiments on social media and with their networks. The goal of these efforts is to create an employer brand that attracts and retains the best talent, creates sales opportunities, and improves the bottom line.

2. Improving Layoff Processes

The 2008 recession prompted about 2.6 million layoffs – the worst year for jobs since 1945. During that difficult time, HR leaders began developing new practices and strategies to address the needs of impacted employees in an effort to protect employer brands and remain competitive. At the same time, outplacement services began to change significantly, and organizations started focusing on the entire employee journey, including offboarding and severance policies and procedures.

Today, lower unemployment rates and a fierce war for talent have prompted employers to look for more holistic approaches to career mobility. Most employers have come to realize that offering only one path for employees impacted by layoffs doesn't address the varied needs of today's workers. Employees have come to expect options to meet their changing needs, and employers are responding with creative solutions, including redeployment, voluntary separation packages, creative retirement, and other new processes. Today, employers of choice are looking for contemporary career transition solutions that offer mobility and choice for employees who want to join the gig economy, become entrepreneurs, and even change careers.

3. The Multigenerational Workplace

In the past decade, we've gone from having 2-3 generations of workers in the average workplace to having five all at once. As each generation brings its own preferences to the workplace, HR leaders must adapt and respond accordingly in order to provide great employee experiences. Savvy HR leaders are focused on creating environments where all employees, regardless of age, background, or ethnicity, can thrive.

Creating mobility and career options for every generation requires understanding the needs of each employee. HR leaders must help their organizations let go of generational stereotypes and offer programs that match the career development phase of each employee.

Even a career stage as simple as retirement has changed dramatically in the past few years. No longer are mature workers looking to leave the workplace in search of lives of leisure. Instead, employees of traditional retirement age are leaving their full-time positions to find meaning and purpose as consultants, members of the flexible workforce, entrepreneurs, volunteers, philanthropists, or board members. HR leaders are looking for better ways to provide creative retirement options to these members of the older generation.

4. Increased Access to Data

Many of the people analytics and big data technologies HR leaders have now did not exist in 2008. Only over the last decade has technology advanced enough to give us the insights we have today into employee satisfaction and the efficacy of our hiring and recruiting practices.

Analytics and data now provide HR leaders with the information they need to be strategic partners in their organizations. Armed with employee sentiment and alumni sentiment data, employers can make changes to processes, communications, and policies to improve the employee experience and take control of the employer brand.

These trends, along with a few others, have changed how businesses approach the employee journey. In the last decade, entirely new HR products and platforms have been introduced to improve the employee journey from beginning to beginning.

In 2018, the employee journey will continue to evolve, as will the HR policies, procedures, and partnerships that govern it. When HR leaders focus on individual employees and their experiences across every touchpoint – from a recruiter's email to a meeting with a career coach following a layoff – they are in a position to improve the employee journey significantly. In the next few years, recruiters, HR leaders, and managers who remain acutely aware of the importance of the employee experience will add value to their organizations.

Lindsay Witcher serves as the director of practice strategy for RiseSmart.