5 Human Resources Predictions For 2017

February 7, 2017 by - Leave a comment

Human Resources Predictions For 2017In preparation for my upcoming keynote speeches in 2017, I spent a great deal of time this January researching the most prominent trends occurring, and burgeoning, in the Human Resources sector. As a direct outgrowth of this research, I thought it would be valuable to share the most likely continued trends and predictions in Human Resources for 2017. Here are the top five, in order of magnitude and strength:

1. Culture and Employee Engagement Will Continue to be the Top Priorities for Most Organizations

The continued challenges with talent attraction and retention will keep Culture and Employee Engagement front and center, as highlighted previously by the premier research studies conducted by the SHRM & Deloitte in 2016.

2. The Learning and Development Function Will Continue to be a Challenge

Top-down L&D approaches and rigid training models are simply not working in today’s fast-paced work environments. While the past was all about instructor-led training classes and web-based e-learning platforms, the current and future workforce will continue demanding next-generation training that is more personalized, engaging, and mobile. As such, today’s Chief Learning Officers must reinvent both themselves and how they offer training, to fully leverage L&D as a strategic business asset.

Also, to succeed in this transformation, a greater emphasis will be placed on establishing learning metrics that matter strategically.

Lastly, Digital HR & Learning will greatly assist in redesigning L&D and HR Systems.

3. Telecommuting Will Continue to Expand

The trend towards hiring remote workers and letting people work from home will continue to accelerate for two seminal reasons.

First, as mentioned frequently in the press, the clear evidence of the benefits of telecommuting are very compelling. More and more managers are embracing the statistical ROI-based proof that working from home makes sense for both employer and worker. As a great example, having a good Work From Home (WFH) policy is linked to lower absenteeism and higher engagement. In addition, a Gallup study proved that not only do virtual employees work an average of four hours longer per work week than people who go to the company site, they are also more engaged (32% versus 28% engaged). Thus, with this in mind, it’s not surprising that 82 percent of Fortune Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” already have virtual work policies. 

Second, the ability to work from home can also be a powerful way to attract top talent, especially Millennials, who highly value autonomy and scheduling flexibility.


4. Diversity & Inclusion and Unconscious Bias Will Get Greater Emphasis as Top Priorities

The topic of diversity has been on the HR agenda for a long time. Once considered a compliance program, it has evolved wonderfully into a successful business strategy. In fact, CEOs and company brands are now impacted by an organization’s gender and racial diversity.

The topics of Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) have also escalated in importance because of the current political climate and the recent presidential election in the U.S. Employees and leaders are surrounded by these D&I issues, and honestly, many people are rightfully concerned.

In addition, the topic of Unconscious Bias has, and will, continue to become a greater priority and point of discussion, with more and more organizations scrutinizing their interview questions and hiring processes to ensure fairness and equity.

5. Real-time Feedback and Quicker Analytics Will Continue to Expand

This brings me to my last prediction. Fueled by the need to improve employee engagement, and the continuous need to measure and improve employee productivity, real-time feedback and analytics will hit the ceiling. The real-time feedback tools market has already exploded and is growing at roughly 100% each year.1 Many of the newest performance and talent management software tools now include: live feedback streams, pulse surveys, real-time quantitative analytics, analysis of qualitative text (write-in comments grouped by topic), action-planning programs, and peer-to-peer feedback and recognition platforms.

For 2017, more and more companies will build or refine their strategies to automate the entire range of employee experiences, from pre-hire and recruiting through: onboarding, performance feedback and reviews, ongoing and more frequent employee engagement feedback, and exit surveys.


In summary, 2017 will be a critical year for Human Resources, as more and more companies face the challenges and opportunities that come with talent attraction, talent retention, skill gaps, technology, diversity & inclusion, and increased mobility. There has never been a better time for Human Resources & Talent Management Leaders to step up and show they will rise to the occasion.


Source 1: Deloitte Development LLC Internal Research Report, 2016



Kevin Sheridan is an internationally-recognized Keynote Speaker, a New York Times Best Selling Author, and one of the most sought-after voices in the world on the topic of Employee Engagement. For six years running, he has been honored on Inc. Magazine’s top 100 Leadership Speakers in the world, as well as Inc.’s top 100 experts on Employee Engagement. He was also honored to be named to The Employee Engagement Award’s Top 101 Global Influencers on Employee Engagement of 2017.

Having spent thirty years as a high-level Human Capital Management consultant, Kevin has helped some of the world’s largest corporations rebuild a culture that fosters productive engagement, earning him several distinctive awards and honors. Kevin’s premier creation, PEER®, has been consistently recognized as a long-overdue, industry-changing innovation in the field of Employee Engagement. His first book, Building a Magnetic Culture, made six of the best seller lists including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. He is also the author of The Virtual Manager, which explores how to most effectively manage remote workers.

Kevin received a Master of Business Administration from the Harvard Business School in 1988, concentrating his degree in Strategy, Human Resources Management, and Organizational Behavior. He is also a serial entrepreneur, having founded and sold three different companies.

Email: kevin@kevinsheridanllc.com

  • jimjr11

    Seriously, I’m not trying to be a jerk here, but more and more studies are coming to the conclusion that whatever the EE industry is doing, it’s not working. I have yet to find any specific research looking at the business benefits of the current and growing EE services. There’s no shortage of studies attempting to justify EE with a corollary approach. Suggesting that higher levels of EE drive better results. Completely ignoring that the better performing companies have better management and therefore better business results. Higher EE results are the result of better management. That makes so much sense, I can’t believe people aren’t rebelling against firms like Gallup,offering no proof whatsoever that working on EE drives a single business metric. It sounds like that should be the case, but given the money that’s being spent, there aren’t any results to support the investment. If HR and a committee or two engage in the EE project, nothing has changed at the leadership level, where the problem probably arose. One of the solutions is to have the EE service providers place a large portion of their fees on the business results. An unwillingness to do that speaks volumes about their belief their approach will generate results.

    • kevinsheridan5

      Respectfully, I do not believe your assertions are true. In fact, take a look at the most comprehensive summary evidence of the Employee Engagement outcomes, which includes some great research from one of my former competitors, Gallup. Check it out: http://kevinsheridanllc.com/2014/05/compelling-business-case-employee-engagement-initiatives/

      • jimjr11

        Hoping to sound equally respectful, my assertions are absolutely correct. You won’t find, in any of the research, a single statement that an EE initiative or project resulted in any identifiable financial improvement. In fact, it strikes me as a bit disingenuous on the researchers part. They have completely avoided any inference that higher EE caused the better performance. Being very careful to point out only that companies with higher EE generate better results and letting the reader assume EE is the cause rather than the result. Most reasonable minds would reach the reverse conclusion, that well performing companies likely have better leadership and therefore higher employee engagement. Kevin, I read them all, every one of the ones you mentioned, and others from Gallup, Hay, Towers, Dale Carnegie, Deloitte, and many others, looking specifically for even a hint that someone studied the business results AFTER an EE project. There simply are none, well, Gallup refers to one that took four years to measure and the results were nowhere near the differences sighted in the research. If you still think my “assertions” are untrue, I can ‘t tell you how helpful it would be to find a respected resource that actually states, with anything resembling empirical evidence, that improving EE improves the business. Of course it’s logical, I just can’t find anyone who has researched the results as opposed to using the corollary approach to justifying the investment. Similar to IBM saying company A is doing much better than your firm, if you buy our computer you will do as well as them. I don’t think you’d buy that line!

  • Madonna Bentz

    I especially believe item 4 will be critical. Inclusion and Diversity are more important now than ever.
    Congratulations on your recognition as a Top 101 Global Influencer on Employee Engagement.

    • rdk3

      So, if bias is “unconscious” how does one know that one is in fact “biased”? How is such “bias” discovered? Are we looking at another pseudo-career filed where crypto “experts” sing in a circle, dance around fires and sacrifice ducks to get to the “truth”? Seriously, what in the wide wide world of sports is going on anymore?

    • kevinsheridan5

      Thank you for both sharing and the compliment!

  • rdk3

    “Unconscious Bias” =’s more reverse discrimination and dumbing down of requirements in order to ensure that no snowflake is harmed . This is becoming beyond stupid.

  • Cyndi Winsor

    Have you noticed an increase in corporate social responsibility as an extension of employee engagement?

    • kevinsheridan5

      Absolutely, especially driven by Millennials.