Category Archives: HR technology

The Next Step for Wearable Tech

Wearable technology has been receiving a lot of attention in the press lately.

ThinkstockPhotos-126914550Just last month, FitBit—by far, the current leading provider in the field—scored a major client win when Target announced it would be giving its 335,000 employees a free Zip, the firm’s clip-on device retailing for around $60. Wall Street apparently was pleased by the news: FitBit’s stock price jumped as much as 22 percent following the announcement.

So I guess it isn’t terribly surprisingly to see wearable technologies quite visible at this week’s Benefits Forum & Expo in Orlando, Fla. Right?

Just a few steps away from the conference registration desk, FitBit employees were distributing complimentary devices to attendees who agreed to sign up for a charity competition. (Full disclosure: I picked up my first tracker on Wednesday, strapped it on my wrist and joined a team designated “MS Mercenaries,” though I’m clearly not contributing to our tally sitting here writing this post.)

I probably should also mention that FitBit did a similar competition at our Health & Benefits Leadership Conference last year and will be doing it again later this month at our HR Tech Conference.

I also counted at least three sessions dedicated to the wearables topic on the opening day of the Benefits Forum.

One of those sessions, titled “Wearables: A Believable Future or a Passing Fad,” featured David Spierer, president of human physiology at Wellness Science LLC, a New York-based data-intelligence company that focuses on wearable-tech validation.

Spierer shared his insights and perspectives on the phenomenon, including some of the drawbacks employers ought to factor in as they evaluate and implement these devices in their organizations.

Sustainability and accuracy continue to be two major hurdles facing device makers, he said.

According to Spierer, wearables have a life span of about five-and-a-half to six months before the novelty wears off and they end up in a drawer, he said. Either that, he said, or they break.

Still, the appetite for these devices is unarguably huge. Spierer said they’re shipping at a rate of more than 21 million units a year—and some predict that number could rise to 150 million a year by 2018. So people clearly want them!

Spierer also emphasized the need for better validation.

He specifically pointed to manufacturers’ claims that these devices can measure calories, when the only way to accurately measure caloric expenditures is to wear a mask. “Carbon dioxide, oxygen and nitrogen have to all be measured in order to get a true reading of caloric expenditure,” he said. “These devices just do an estimate.”

Yet despite such limitations, Spierer predicted that further innovation lies ahead for the technology and the future is promising.

By integrating the sensors with a complete system, he said, people will be able to do exercises at home and then send that information to their physician.

Spierer also predicted that the devices are going to become increasingly “invisible” and “personalized,” citing companies that have already added them to their clothing and are incorporating them in jewelry such as earrings.

He also expects the technology to get a lot smarter. “They’re going to be context-driven,” he said. “They’re going to know when it’s raining, what holiday it is [and] what your routine is during the day.” And they’re going to start to talk to other devices (for instance, the wearable on your wrist will be able to talk to your phone in your pocket).

“How great would it be if you were walking home with your groceries, the wearable senses your heart rate is going up, the smart lock on your front door opens … and because your sweating, your air conditioning goes on?” he asked.

I’d say pretty great—especially on a day like today, when temperatures in Orlando reached around 90 degrees.

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Report: HR Really Is Becoming More Strategic

Back view of businessman

Back view of businessman

We’ve all been hearing and talking about HR professionals becoming better strategic leaders and business partners for years, so there’s no real surprise here.

But in this report from the Cranfield Network on International Human Resource management, in collaboration with the Society for Human Resource Management and the Center for International HR Studies in the School of Labor Employment Relations at Penn State University, we do have new numbers. And they’re worth noting.

The report, Human Resource Management Policies and Practices in the United States, outlines the results of a survey of almost 700 senior-level HR practitioners in organizations with 200 or more employees.

It finds HR is more often on an organization’s board of directors or executive team and taking sole responsibility for major policy decisions than in years past.

Specifically, in terms of leadership, 70 percent of responding organizations said HR has a place on the board now, compared to 63 percent in 2009 and 41 percent in 2004. Also, two-thirds of responding organizations (66 percent) said they have a written HR-management strategy. As the report states:

“The HR department appears to be moving away from working jointly with line management in terms of where the responsibility lies for major policy decisions across a whole range of HRM activities such as pay and benefits, recruitment and selection, training and development, industrial relations and workforce expansion/reduction.

“In most cases, there has been an increase in either the HR department taking sole responsibility for these activities or line management taking responsibility (but at a much lower absolute level), with a concurrent reduction in the number of cases where both parties collaborated on the activity led either by HR or by line management. On average, line management is most active in the area of training and development, and least active in establishing pay and benefits policies.

“This trend implies that HR and line management roles may be becoming institutionalized, with each party focusing on its own responsibilities. The increasing regulatory environment may be playing a part here, with firms needing clear guidelines around responsibilities to ensure compliance with regulations and standards.”

This last sentence certainly underscores what we’ve been hearing lately as well!

The report also confirms the use of technology as a foundation for increased strategic HR leadership, with 83 percent of organizations using HR-information systems or electronic HR-management systems and 67 percent using employee self-service options.

Interestingly, according to the report, HR departments remain involved in the development of business strategy, either from the outset or through consultation, although their involvement has declined slightly (ranging from 80 percent in 2004 to 78 percent in 2009 to 76 percent in 2014/15).

Also, interestingly (and it’s hard to pinpoint what’s behind this), there was a decrease in the percentage of HR departments not consulted when the organization was going through a merger, relocation or acquisition between 2004 and 2009 (8 percent in 2004 and 4 percent in 2009); however, in 2014/15 the percentage returned to 9 percent, a level similar to that reported in 2004.

On a more positive note, though, the report states …

” … more than one half of HR departments report that they are consulted from the outset in such situations, which has remained stable since 2004 at 54 percent to 61 percent (depending on the type of organizational change), an indication that HR continues to be involved in processes vital to the success of organizations.”


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KPMG Acquires Towers Watson’s HRSD Practice

On the heels of its recently announced merger with Willis, Towers Watson said today it has sold its HR service delivery business to KPMG. Towers Watson’s HRSD helps clients integrate their HR-related processes with technology and provides consulting services in those areas, and has operations and clients not only in the United States but China, the U.K., Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore and the Philippines. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The acquisition marks KPMG’s sixth transaction in the HR space within the past four years. The other five transactions include KPMG’s acquisition of Equa Terra, Optimum Solutions, The Hackett Group’s Oracle Enterprise Resource Planning Practice, Zanett Consulting Solutions and the Workday practice of Axia Consulting.

Towers Watson’s HRSD practice has been heavily involved in Workday implementations for its clients, according to a statement announcing the acquisition from KPMG. As part of the acquisition, KPMG will continue to support Towers Watson’s HR Service Delivery and Technology Survey and its associated forum, the company said.

Towers Watson will be shifting its focus to growing its proprietary HR software business, said Max Caldwell, TW’s managing director of its data, surveys and technology business.

Mark Spears, KPMG’s global head of people and change and leader of its global HR center of excellence, said in a statement that the acquisition “significantly increases our capacity and ability to serve our global clients in all geographies.”

“Our capabilities and experience fit very well into KPMG’s strategy and organization,” said Mike DiClaudio, global leader of TW’s HRSD practice. “We are excited to continue helping HR leaders improve the quality and efficiency of the services they provide to their organization.”


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A Sampling of What to Expect at HR Tech

In case you didn’t notice, this year’s full HR Technology Conference and Exposition® agenda was posted online about a week or so ago and was officially announced yesterday by HRE, via a press release. 200213603-001As you’ll see, the program continues to build on many of the general and concurrent sessions that have resonated with HR and HR IT leaders and professionals at past events. It also features a number of new and exciting additions. Here are just a few of the highlights mentioned in the release …

  • The return of the “Awesome New Startups” session, showcasing  HR technology innovators that are pushing the envelope.
  • Live demonstrations of “Awesome New Technologies for HR,” featuring new solutions from industry leaders.
  • Recognition of HRE’s “Top HR Products of 2015.”
  • HR Tech’s first-ever Hackathon, providing attendees with an exclusive peek into how today’s technology vendors develop solutions that address real-world HR and business challenges.
  • HR transformation and employee-driven organizational-culture shifts at companies such as Cisco, Delta Air Lines and MGM Resorts International.
  • The latest developments in mobile HR technology, as told through the experiences of companies such as Ovation Brands, PwC, Texas Mutual Insurance Co. and Marriott International.
  • Examples of successful HR technology strategies and implementations that have gotten it right in areas such as HCM, talent acquisition, employee engagement and change management.
  • Results from the 18th Annual Sierra-Cedar HR Systems Survey.
  • A closing general session featuring some of the most innovative thinkers in HR, who will share cutting-edge ideas about HR, technology and the workplace in a fast-moving “Ignite”-style format.

There also will be keynotes by two industry luminaries, Marcus Buckingham and James Whitehurst. New York Times best-selling author Buckingham will discuss a radically new approach to equipping team leaders with the tools they need to enhance employee engagement and improve performance management. Red Hat President and CEO Whitehurst, meanwhile, will share how unleashing the power of openness within an organization can transform corporate culture and drive higher levels of engagement and business performance.

And, of course, HR Tech will again feature the world’s largest expo of HR technology products and services.

Be sure to check out the full program at the conference’s website, linked above, if you haven’t already. Hope to see you there.

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Jawbone vs. Fitbit: A Wearables Drama

ThinkstockPhotos-155172325Wellness and wearables increasingly go together like cream and sugar (or oatmeal and blueberries, for health’s sake), as devices like the Apple Watch and the FitBit Surge make it not only easy but hip for employees to track their movements throughout the day. But there’s a bit of trouble in Wellness City: Wearables-maker Jawbone has just filed suit against arch-competitor FitBit for what Jawbone says is “systematically plundering” its confidential information by hiring away employees who improperly downloaded sensitive information from Jawbone before leaving, reports the New York Times.

The suit, filed in California State Court, comes at an inopportune time for Fitbit, which has just announced its Initial Public Offering. Fitbit says it’s the No. 1 player in the activity tracker market, with an 85 percent market share (according to NPD Group).

The complaint says Fitbit recruiters contacted nearly one-third of Jawbone employees earlier this year. The employees who decided to leave downloaded information on Jawbone’s products and future business plans onto thumb drives and used programs and deleted system logs to cover their tracks, according to Jawbone.

Some of the employees hired by Fitbit didn’t disclose they were leaving until after they had attended meetings where future plans were discussed or had sent confidential information to their personal email addresses, according to Jawbone’s complaint.

According to the Times, Marty Reaume, Fitbit’s chief people officer, acknowledged in a phone call to Jawbone that her company had been poaching its employees. She did not, however, say anything about the taking of sensitive information, the suit alleges.

Fitbit denies the allegations via a statement: “We are unaware of any confidential or proprietary information of Jawbone in our possession and we intend to vigorously defend against these allegations.”

The New York Times notes that Jawbone itself is facing some financial scrutiny over its failure to achieve profitability after 16 years in business and production issues related to its Up3 fitness band. However, a Jawbone representative told the Times that “demand for Jawbone’s products are extremely strong, as is the company’s financial health.”

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Google’s ‘Mobilegeddon’ Comes Tomorrow!

It’s hard to say exactly what’s all in store for employers when Google unleashes its massive search-algorithm update tomorrow, but from 178976393 -- mobile technologythe buzz out there about it, sounds like everyone will be impacted.

For the record, here is Google’s official announcement on its site about its new mobile-friendly-ranking system starting April 21 — complete with a helpful guide toward making your website mobile-friendly. Though … in all honesty, of course … if you haven’t started this yet, you will definitely be behind the eight ball when it comes to website user-ability and “bites.”

In short, Google’s algorithm change is tailored to favor sites suitably optimized for mobile use by increasing the search engine’s emphasis on mobile-usability as a ranking factor.

In super short, if you are not a mobile-friendly site, ranked thusly by Google (mind you, the company is not exactly forthcoming about how this will be measured), you run the risk of getting bumped down in search-result stacking.

Advice out there for employers is a bit scanty, since this is posting a day before update launch, but I did find this piece from iCIMS, stressing just how imperative it is for all career sites to take this mobile-friendly ranking — and mobile-friendliness altogether — very seriously. It quotes Chuck Price, founder of Measurable SEO:

“Because you don’t have a mobile-optimized site, you’re going to get bumped down from position one or two to the third page, and suddenly you’ve lost all of your organic traffic. That’s a big deal.”

Perhaps the best analysis of what this update means comes from this recent piece by Jayson DeMers on the Forbes site. In it, he makes no bones about its potential impact:

“The search giant seems to make near-constant updates to its search protocols. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this upcoming April 21st update is something like the last few we’ve seen—a data refresh or some small tweak that leads to almost imperceptible changes in search rankings for only a handful of businesses.

“Unfortunately for currently non-optimized businesses, this doesn’t appear to be the case. With one of Google’s own recently explaining that this latest algorithm rollout is set to have a bigger impact than either Panda or Penguin, and considering Panda and Penguin are the biggest algorithm updates we’ve ever seen from Google, this new mobile update could completely change how we look at search.”

This, from Search Engine Watch, lays out many particulars all companies should keep in mind when it comes to mobile-friendly modifications you should have made by now, but better late than never. I especially like its reference to “Mobilegeddon.”

Kind of says it all.

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Moving in the Right Direction

Yesterday, I was able to get an early look at the findings of The Hackett Group’s latest study on HR budgets and trends.

ThinkstockPhotos-166114849While there weren’t many huge surprises in the report, titled “The HR Agenda for 2015: Major Transformation Efforts Are Planned to Close the Gaps in HR Capabilities,” there definitely were a few data points to reflect on. (The study can be downloaded today with registration.)

As far as budgets are concerned, the study—based on research involving executives from more than 170 large companies in the United States and abroad—found that HR organizations, for the first time in a while, should experience marginal increases in both staff levels and budgets in 2015. Specifically, budgets are expected to rise 1.4 percent and staff grow by 1.5 percent—no doubt a reflection of a relatively healthy economy and the growing awareness among business leaders of the importance of talent strategies and practices.

The report, however, also points out that the increases are far from universal. Only 40 percent of the companies in the study actually expect to see budget increases, with just under 30 percent saying the same for staff levels. Further, just over 30 percent still expect to see declines in budgets and full-time employees, with the remainder expecting no change.

Of course, it’s good to see things move in the right direction, but as the Hackett report suggests, even more important will be what HR organizations do with the extra dollars and staff. In their report, the experts at Hackett suggest many HR organizations are largely unprepared to help improve enterprise agility and address those issues most relevant to achieving business objectives, including workforce strategy, innovation and talent management.

When I asked Hackett’s Global HR Practice Leader Harry Osle to elaborate on how world-class organizations differ from others when it comes to addressing these issues, he said, “they’re continually looking for ways to optimize their HR organizations.”

More specifically, he said, three characteristics come to mind when you look at world-class organizations. “First, these companies continue to look at process optimization … and look for ways to [eliminate] slack in the system.”

Next, he explained, they have a sharp focus on talent management and a hunger for finding and keeping the best talent, and making that talent more productive.

And finally, they have a strong commitment to digitization and technology. “That means,” Osle said, “having the right data at the right time to make the critical analytical decisions that organizations have to make today.”

The study found that the best-prepared HR organizations are clearly committed to making digital transformation and the utilization of cloud-based technologies a reality. Roughly 70 percent of the best-prepared HR organizations view the development of an HR digital-transformation strategy a high priority, compared to 25 percent of typical HR organizations. For cloud-based HR solutions, the gap is smaller, but still significant, with 50 percent of the best-prepared HR organizations considering it a high priority, compared to 40 percent of typical HR organizations.

As Osle explained, investing in technology in the cloud and SaaS is an easy decision to make when you consider the cost savings—and efficiency and effectiveness improvements—it can result in.

Osle predicted a substantial amount of the budget increases will likely be targeted to HR technologies. (Assuming he’s right, I would have to think this fall’s HR Technology Conference and Exposition® in Las Vegas will be a pretty lively event.)

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Diversity, Leadership and Performance: i4cp Report

In HRE’s most-recent annual “What Keeps HR Executives Up at Night” survey, HR leaders ranked attracting and retaining diverse talent sixth on their list of top concerns, just below driving culture change and aligning people practices to business.

185905158Of course, it’s hardly a surprise attracting and retaining diverse talent would be a significant concern, considering the obvious benefits of employing a diverse workforce. But that said, there’s also little question employers have a lot more work to do on this front.

The link between diversity and business performance was one of many topics address during the i4cp 2015 Conference, held this week at the Fairmont Princess in Scottsdale, Ariz.

In his opening remarks, Kevin Oakes, CEO of i4cp, referenced a recent research report produced by the institute titled Diversity & Inclusion Practices that Promote Market Performance.

The research found high-performance organizations shared the following characteristics as far as D&I is concerned, including:

  • They make D&I part of the organization’s DNA;
  • They ground their D&I efforts in metrics, thereby spurring greater leadership buy-in;
  • They place greater emphasis on inclusion;
  • They have leaders who “seek awareness of differences” and “take action to establish relationships” that bridge gaps and build an understanding of differences.

Later in the morning, a panel featuring diversity leaders from CVS Health, W.W. Grainger and Lincoln Financial participated on a panel titled “Business Impact Diversity & Inclusion.”

Jacqui Roberson, senior director of inclusion and diversity for Grainger, noted that far too many organizations still operate in silos. In order for D&I initiatives to succeed, she said, employers need to get people to “cross over the lines.”

David Green, vice president of diversity at CVS Health, noted that having a CEO who gets it certainly doesn’t hurt.  Referring to CVS Health’s recent decision to remove tobacco from its store shelves, Green recalled how, soon after the decision was announced, his CEO came to him and said, “ ‘Just so you know, we need to make sure we’re thinking about what this means in helping [employees] quit tobacco. We need to be focused on multicultural communities, youth communities and lower-income communities.’ … I didn’t have to go knocking on his door to say, ‘What do you think about all those diverse communities.’ ”

At CVS Health, Green said, diversity operates as a separate function, but works closely with HR to ensure shared goals are in place and each group knows what the other is doing.

Altimeter Group Founder and Principal Analyst Charlene Li also explored some  key themes from her new book (released Tuesday, the day of her talk) during a session titled “The Engaged Leader: A Strategy for Digital Transformation.” (Her book shares the same title as the session.)

Technologies are changing the nature of relationships, Li said. Yet many leaders, she added, continue to be stuck in the old ways of doing things.

If organizations are going to thrive in the new digital era, she said, that’s going to need to change.

“Technologies come and go,” she said, “but leadership is [always going to be around] and something you need to have a long-term strategy about.”

In her talk, Li shared several examples involving companies that are using technologies to strengthen the link between leaders and employees.

One story she told involved the introduction of a new burger at restaurant chain Red Robin.  Soon after the launch, she said, leaders at Red Robin learned through the company’s internal social network that the burger wasn’t very good. Employees were saying on the site that “people were complaining about it” and “the burger was falling apart,” she said.

Listening to that feedback, Li said, the organization quickly realized it had a problem and leaders went back to employees for more details. “They then took [that feedback] back to corporate headquarters, cooked up a new recipe and brought it back to the restaurants in 30 days.”

To put this in context, Li said, “it usually takes 12 to 18 months to change a recipe and get it back to the restaurants, but they did it [in this case] in 30 days!”

As a result, she said, Red Robin didn’t just change the recipe. By recognizing the value these employees were delivering to the organization, she said, “they were able to change [the company’s] relationship with those employees.”

Value—or more precisely the “lack of it”—was one of the reasons behind Sears Holdings Corp.’s decision to begin to seriously revamp its performance-management system last year.

During a session titled “The Rise of the Crowd: How Social Platforms Can Drive Performance and Democratize Performance Management,” two Sears Holdings Corp. HR leaders detailed the retailer’s efforts to transform the way it does performance management.

Aimed at salaried workers, the new initiative is based on the work of Neuroleadership Institute Director David Rock and others.

“The old process was cumbersome and annual reviews were happening three or four months after the year had ended—so by the time we were having the conversation, things were stale,” recalled Phil Menzel, vice president of HR for SHC.

In contrast, Menzel said, the new system is much more agile and responsive.

Using a tool developed internally called GameOn, associates every quarter now sit down to identify up to five objectives for themselves.

The new system also features an online feedback tool called Soundboard, which is accessible to associates. “People can go on the tool and request feedback from anyone in the company or provide feedback,” said Chris Mason, head of strategic talent solutions at SHC. “It gives people something they can take action on right away.”

The final part of the new process is a quarterly “check-in” component aimed at facilitating a more meaningful dialogue between associates and managers.

Martin noted that associates now have to prepare as much for the check-ins (which includes a one-page worksheet) as their managers.

Though still very much a work in progress, the new system has already shown some good traction, according to Menzel and Mason.

Introduced last August, the Soundboard tool already has 10,000 active users and has resulted in 40,000 pieces of feedback. “When we surveyed people, 75 percent said they took the information and actually made a change in [their] behavior,” Mason said.

The new system officially launched in February.

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The Long Lost Art of Listening at Work

It’s tough to be a good listener in the workplace these days — even if you consider listening one of your strengths. That’s according to #ListenLearnLead, a new survey out from Accenture today based on responses from 3,600 professionals from 30 countries.

Nearly all of the respondents (96 percent) consider themselves to be “good listeners,” yet 98 percent report that they spend part of their workday multitasking and 64 percent say that listening “has become significantly more difficult in today’s digital workplace.”

Interestingly, though, despite the plethora of smartphones, tablets and other must-have yet highly distractable devices in today’s modern office, the most-cited distractions by the respondents were of the more old-school variety: When asked what interrupts their workday the most, 79 percent cited telephone calls and 72 percent cited unscheduled meetings and visitors. That compares to the 30 percent and 28 percent, respectively, who cited instant messaging and texting.

Rampant multitasking is a routine part of the workday, judging by the survey’s results: Eight in 10 respondents say they multitask on conference calls with work emails, instant messaging, personal emails, social media and reading news and entertainment. Perhaps this is something to keep in mind for your next conference call: if you’re the presenter, try and keep things lively, quick and fast, otherwise your presentation could lose out to the latest goings-on of the Kardashian clan as bored attendees seek relief via their smartphones.

In keeping with general trends, respondents have mixed views on the benefits of technology in the workplace: 58 percent believe technology enables leaders to communicate with their teams easily and quickly, and nearly half cite its ability to enable flexible work from anywhere. However, 62 percent of women and 54 percent of men view technology as “overextending” leaders by making them too accessible. Majorities also agree that information overload (55 percent) and rapidly evolving technology (52 percent) are among the top challenges facing leaders today.


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Gazing Into the Crystal Ball

As 2014 draws to a close, folks — as you might expect — now have their eyes set on 2015, and are figuring out what might be in store for their organizations as far as HR and the workplace are concerned. For this final post of the year, I did a quick search of the web to see what  people are predicting for next year. For your reading pleasure, here are a few of the things I stumbled upon. (Feel free, of course, to click on any of the links to see the sources’ full list of predictions.)

159188661Establishing a “chief of work.” Peter Andrew, workplace strategy director for Asia at real-estate company CBRE, predicts in Fortune the addition of a new position: chief of work. Most C-suites have not added new roles since the chief-information-officer title took hold about 20 years ago, but CBRE’s research suggests that’s about to change. For one thing, Andrew writes, companies today have human resources, IT and real-estate all acting separately and, often, unwittingly working against each other. He suggests that a chief of work would coordinate all that, with an eye toward building a culture that attracts top talent. Finding the most efficient balance between full-time employees and a growing army of independent contractors, he adds, will also be in that individual’s wheelhouse.

The rise of mobile assessments. From website CPA Practice Advisor: Mobile assessments will be increasingly tapped for selection, performance management, and training and development decisions. Technology, including social media and social collaboration, is changing the science and practice of selection, recruitment, performance management, engagement and learning, the article says. And I-O psychologists, it continues, will work to design assessments that are valid and reliable, regardless of how and where they are delivered.

Every child born in the next 12 months will learn coding as a core subject. Increasingly, Samsung writes, governments are recognizing that computer literacy is a fundamental, basic skill and are incorporate coding into their curriculums. For example, the UK, it says, launched a new computing curriculum during the current academic year, in which children as young as five are taught programming skills. In 2015 and beyond, Samsung predicts, such education innovations will gradually become the norm, with businesses, educators and governments working together to raise skills across Europe. Longer-term, it says, this trend will help spur the use of internships, as businesses recognize that they can benefit from welcoming young, computer-literate people into their organizations. “The need for employees to be computer literate,” Samsung says, will result in a wave of coding schools that will help longtime employees learn coding quickly.

Honesty will become a revered leadership trait. In a Forbes article, contributor Dan Schawbel predicts that “companies are going to start embracing transparency more next year as younger generations are demanding it.” Leaders, Schawbel writes, won’t just have to be good at inspiring and educating; they will have to be able to instill trust through honesty. “It’s only natural that people would want to work under leaders who are open about what the company is doing [and] where it’s heading in the future, and give honest feedback regularly,” he writes.

Niche becomes the norm. Korn Ferry’s Futurestep unit predicts “niche will become the norm” in talent acquisition.Now that organizations grasp the power of data,” Futurestep says, “next year, the challenge will be to prove ROI on all activities using analytics.” Organizations, it notes, need to be clear on the touch points that fit best with the types of candidates they are looking to attract. To that end, it says, interest and demand in creating functional talent communities is becoming top of mind as businesses strive to target hard to reach groups.

“Niche talent requires niche strategies,” says Chong Ng, president of Futurestep’s Asia- Pacific operation. “Whether it is businesses seeking high-demand talent such as STEM candidates, or organizations located in high-potential growth locations looking to specifically attract local talent back in the country, employers need to be more sophisticated in their attraction and retention methodologies in order to find and keep candidates.”

Companies will set new hiring priorities. Website Customer Think predicts employers will pay a lot closer attention to soft skills in 2015. “In the past,” writes Marcelo Brahimllari, “candidates were hired for open positions based primarily on their skills and experience. The ability to ‘do the work’ was traditionally valued over other skills.” But with more competition for jobs and deeper talent pools today, Brahimllari says, many employers are considering candidates’ so-called “soft” skills just as much, if not more, than education and experience. Employers, he writes, want to hire applicants who fit with the culture of the organization and share in its values. Traits such as honesty, flexibility, positive mind-set, creativity and leadership skills, he says, are being looked upon as being just as important as the ability to crunch numbers or write code.

Look forward to seeing you back here in 2015! Happy New Year!

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