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Top HR Takeaways of 2015

Posted by: Ben Eubanks

top-hr-takeaways-of-20152015 has been a banner year for the HR profession with sweeping changes and a push toward a more data-driven approach. Today we’re going to look at trends in six key areas that we have been monitoring over the past year:

As we examine this cross-section of the spectrum of human resources, consider which have had the most impact on your business this year. In addition, keep them in mind as your talent planning is underway for the year ahead.

Recruiting is Marketing

In the past few years, talent acquisition and employee recruitment have become highly transactional, with a focus on tracking and managing applicant data almost eclipsing the sourcing process. What this year brought was an increased focus on the recruitment marketing aspect of the process. Think about traditional marketing: the company knows where its buyers are, what they want, and how to best connect with them.

Take ESPN’s recent website design project as an example.

This particular redesign garnered a ton of attention, earning coverage and analysis in Fast Company, TechCrunch, and VentureBeat, among other publications.”

So why did so many other publications want to cover such a common thing like a redesign? Well for starters, ESPN’s website gets a ton of traffic. In 2014, attracted 22 million daily users, notably more than, BuzzFeed, and other high-volume sites.

But that’s not the only thing they did. They made one major strategic shift: ESPN redesigned the website to adapt to the person looking at it.

This is a game changer to have this level of sophistication available to support talent acquisition. Organizations are doing the same with their employee recruiting practices by targeting their approach to the places that candidates frequent and by reaching out in the way that makes the most sense for their audience.

One way companies do this is by using personality assessments to create profiles based on your best performers. Applicants are then matched based on how well their strengths and work styles compare to the profiles. This helps to ensure you’re not only looking for skills–you’re hiring for fit.

Strategic Alignment Brings Value

Want to demonstrate value for your HR efforts? Align them with the business. While some companies are still treading water, waiting for that “seat at the table” to appear, others are seizing the opportunity to deliver value by tying human resources practices and results into those of the organization as a whole. Here’s how Hilton accomplished this:

Boosting company earnings is a goal for any company. Some might use new marketing initiatives, but Hilton took a different route. The organization changed the way they trained their employees to improve revenue and it had overwhelmingly successful results. They spent about $2,000 per trainee… and reaped $45,000 market growth per location.

It’s about finding ways to connect HR data, activities, and projects with the overall goals the company is trying to achieve, and transforming this into valuable workforce intelligence.

Learning Outside the Classroom

Learning doesn’t just take place in the classroom. If you’re familiar with the 70/20/10 model of learning, it posits that 70% of learning takes place in on-the-job experiences, 20% comes from peers and interactivity, and just 10% is from actual, formal programs.

This is becoming more apparent as companies seek ways to engage employees and reduce turnover. This can include anything from teaching managers how to coach their employees to group and peer mentoring opportunities designed to help build organizational bench strength. Learning isn’t new, but it’s been given a fresh spin as each company seeks to capitalize on these informal opportunities to grow and retain the workforce.

The Millennial Demographic

You might have missed the fanfare earlier this year as Millennials took over as the largest age group in the U.S. workforce. This group of individuals, as you may have already heard, expects things that are outside the norm for many companies. However, this doesn’t mean a full-scale revolution has to take place among your HR policies and procedures.

Instead, seek out low-cost opportunities to connect with these individuals and learn more specifically about how they can add value to your organization. Whether through the new hire check-in process or via informal peer groups, keep your fingers on the pulse of what’s happening among this demographic and how you can leverage their unique skills and insights.

The Social Enterprise

From talent management to recruiting and beyond, the increasingly social nature of the enterprise is changing how organizations operate. Let’s take the performance management process as an example.

For many years, the traditional method of interaction has been strictly limited to the manager and the employee. However, with the growth in popularity of social platforms, there is a demand for everyone to have a voice in the process. This has led to an increased interest in 360-degree feedback and other survey tools to capture the input of the masses. On the plus side, companies now have more data than ever at their fingertips.

Analytics Driving Performance

Speaking of data, the proliferation of information has to be the most important trend we’ve seen to date. There is an abundance of data just waiting to be analyzed. The more important step though is actually using that data on your workforce to make smarter decisions.

Collecting the data is one small step in a series of actions that will allow you to reap the benefits of a strong set of data. Once you have gathered the information from your requisite systems, it’s time to start analyzing it for trends or other key insights. Then you need to interpret and act. In the end, if you are only gathering and analyzing data without a plan to use it for guiding business activities, then the effort is fruitless.

Being able to act upon the information is dependent on how well you understand the business and its needs. Ultimately, you can use the intelligence on hand to make better decisions and lead your organization toward a smarter, data-driven future.

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