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Research has shown that strategic HR departments outperform their tactical and operational counterparts in both effectiveness and contribution to organizational success. Yet HR departments must continuously do more with less since growth in overall FTE is not expected to be mirrored in HR. Therefore, the onus is on HR departments to improve their strategic value by increasing effective areas and prioritizing initiatives accordingly.

This year, McLean & Company surveyed over 700 business professionals across the globe for our annual HR Trends Report to help HR departments do just that – identify top HR priorities, review the effectiveness of HR areas, and discover emerging trends for 2018. Let’s look at some of the most interesting insights.

Culture Overtakes HR Strategy

What we’re seeing: This year the focus on culture intensifies with culture becoming HR’s number one priority, beating out HR strategy for the first time. This is uncharacteristic since culture is already rated one of the most effective functions. A potential reason for this juxtaposition is that organizations are still struggling to address the disconnect between the desired versus the actual cultural experience. Two years running this has been one of the top five emerging trends and this year 70% of participants are planning to address it.

What you can do: Many companies have begun the journey to improve culture and you can expect to see more momentum throughout 2018. Hiring for cultural fit rather than skills fit is one of the top five most implemented trends, and one in four organizations are aligning culture with organizational objectives (N=395). This is a step in the right direction as cultural fit and alignment are correlated with improved employee engagement and productivity, leading to a higher probability of reaching strategic goals. Culture doesn’t have to be an abstract concept. Unleash the true power of culture in your own organization with McLean & Company’s project plan to Turn Organizational Culture into a Competitive Advantage.

Check out McLean & Company Signature in September 2018 to explore all things culture with expert keynotes, interactive works, peer-to-peer roundtables, and a CHRO panel.

Foster Employee Engagement to Achieve Organizational Goals

What we’re seeing: Engagement levels and organizational performance are linked. In fact, organizations that exceeded their goals were twice as likely to have increasing levels of engagement (N=385). So how can you influence employee engagement? Monitor it.

What you can do: Begin with good data from multiple sources. An annual survey is a good start, but engagement fluctuates far more often than that. Blending a dynamic measure of engagement with another measurement tool (e.g. the annual survey) has proved to be the most effective combination for increasing engagement. Dynamic tools like the McLean Employee Experience Monitor allow HR and managers to quickly check real-time results, address employee concerns on the spot, and dive deeper into engagement drivers within a comprehensive annual survey. Combining survey methods gives you robust and relevant data, which empowers HR and managers to influence employee engagement directly and improves the effectiveness of engagement efforts.

L&D Has Become More Formal

What we’re seeing: The well-known learning method breakdown is 70% experiential, 20% relational, and 10% formal. In reality, the delineation looks more like a 42-29-29 split in terms of effort and investment (N=502) and despite the overrepresentation and high cost of formal learning approaches their usage continues to grow (N=490).

What you can do: Shift back towards the best-practice 70-20-10 model and increase focus on experiential learning tactics such as stretch assignments, job rotation, and volunteer opportunities. This has proven to increase the effectiveness of the L&D function, plus on-the-job opportunities often come at a lower cost than classroom learning. For inspiration and guidance on formal, relational, and experiential learning techniques check out McLean & Company’s Learning Methods Catalog.

So What Does It All Mean?

This year is all about culture, engagement, and development. Putting emphasis on improving culture, nurturing engagement, and creating the right mix of learning opportunities can improve employee engagement overall, which in turn increases the likelihood of achieving organizational goals.


By Laura Meikle


If you’re interested in more details, check out our 2018 HR Trends Report.

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Search Code: 85232
Published: February 21, 2018
Last Revised: February 21, 2018

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