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Top 10 HR Trends 2019

The modern workplace evolution is unstoppable, and Human Resources is diligent in finding its footing in the 21st century. Here is a guide to the most likely trends to affect HR in 2019.


One thing is for sure: The world of work is evolving fast, and workplaces are becoming far more aligned with the needs and expectations of employees. It is not surprising to see how much is happening in the HR industry. In a way, everything is changing: How we position ourselves, how we operate and deliver value, how we support and connect with employees– even what we are called going forward.

With 2019 upon us, we ask ourselves: What will this year bring? Where will the current journey lead us? How are we going to embrace the rapid change and challenges organizations are faced with while shaping the future of Human Resources (or to use one of the more contemporary terms: People Operations, Talent & Culture, People Experience …)?

Once again, we are outlining the top trends most likely to affect Human Resources across industries over the course of 2019.


  1. HR Embraces People Centricity: As we realize the numerous benefits that accompany enhanced employee experience, People Ops strives to cultivate a more people-centric strategy. In the months to come, HR will further shift its priority from empowering the company towards catering to its people. After all, people are a company’s most valuable asset, and we need to put human (back) into Human Resources (and maybe consider a name change too?) To that end, HR is redefining its role as one that engages and inspires people and helps them reach their full potential. Rather than applauding tools and processes, this new approach places greater value on people and interactions. So, in an effort to be the advocate of its people, People Ops is shifting its focus from transactions to interactions. Creating a people-centric work environment that effectively engages people not only boosts employee and customer satisfaction, but it undoubtedly also leads to bottom-line benefits for the company.

  2. Feedback Becomes Fluid and Multidimensional: Whereas companies traditionally depend heavily on (bi-)annual reviews to evaluate employee performance and provide feedback, companies are now opting for ongoing conversations with and among their employees in an effort to gain continuous and relentless improvement on all fronts. Reflection and feedback, the cornerstones of improving performance (measuring performance requires a different approach), are key in creating a learning organization— one that considers feedback as a continuous process that enables employees to immediately hone their skills, course correct, and improve in a fluid fashion. HR needs to apply lessons learned from neuroscience to improve the value and experience of giving and receiving feedback. And with regular dialogue and guidance incorporated into company culture, employees will feel more nurtured, engaged, and valued.
  3. Replacing Antiquated Workplace Policies: To keep up with the considerable changes in workplace culture, HR must take a hard look at their workplace policies and determine which policies require updating and which policies should be eliminated altogether. Over the years, we have seen that some of the best intended policies have led to the very behavior (and unfortunately, in many cases to the very lawsuits) from which they were meant to protect the company. To repair these counterproductive policies, HR should use forward thinking and purge the policies that no longer serve their purpose. Hinging on the Douglas Effect, many draconian policies cater to the worst employees. By shifting our focus to invest in our best employees, we can evolve our policies to empower company culture, boosting recruitment and retention.

  4. From Career Ladders to Individualized Growth Paths: In response to changes within society and the workplace, career advancement is veering away from the traditional ‘career ladder’ model with upward mobility offered as the only acceptable route of career progression within an organization. Redefining career paths as ‘career lattices’, modern HR practices recognize the complexities of career paths and provide multiple avenues for employees to reach their individual career goals. HR proactively supports people in building their personal growth profile and journey, starting with a kaleidoscope view to acknowledge that careers reflect the unique patterns of interests, values, and skills of each employee– patterns that are constantly evolving and creating new opportunities. With each employee building on their personal strengths, their career satisfaction, motivation, and productivity increases, all of which ultimately benefit the company and customers.

  5. HR Increases Speed of Delivery: As the pace of business accelerates, a new approach to HR is necessary in order to keep stride. HR, which is (sometimes justly, sometimes unjustly) accused of being notoriously slow, must employ new methods of delivery, challenging themselves to achieve results by a faster, smarter means. Companies are discovering the rewards of applying the Agile mindset and ways of working to their HR practices, a strategy that promotes expedited delivery and improved outcomes. Agile endorses a straightforward, conducive approach involving co-creation with employees and feedback from participants. When employees spend less time on unnecessary or ineffective tasks, they are empowered to perform and find creative solutions at a quicker rate. By simplifying the methodology and responding rapidly to changes in the environment, HR teams attain greater efficiencies and faster results, all the while leading the new way of working and sustaining success.

  6. Mass Customized Learning (MCL): We expect employees to apply innovative thinking and creativity in solving very complex problems. We need them to be life-long learners who seek out new knowledge and develop new skills quickly. This is especially true for the younger generations, who learn and process through doing rather than by being told, and who value excitement and challenge in their training. In accordance, they desire coaching and mentoring to identify and close skill gaps and to develop their interests. To engage these learners, companies must modify their training approach and utilize technology to design personalized learning and to improve the learning experience. No longer limited to a time and place, learning is not only about knowledge transfer; learning happens everywhere and is part of the modern way of working.

  7. HR Organizes Around Value Streams: Responding to the need for shifting focus from transactions to interactions, companies are reorganizing their HR departments around a new operating model. To deliver the new value proposition, improve upon solutions, and enhance employee experience, companies apply lean thinking by shaping People Ops around value streams. These value streams, which portray how we add value from an employee standpoint rather than an HR perspective, assure effectiveness, increase productivity, and maximize the delivery of specific and measured added value to the business. Accordingly, efficiency (doing the things right) is giving way to adaptability (doing the right things), and process excellence is being replaced by a strive to create high value in a fast manner. And since diverse teams are great for business, HR leads the way by assembling interdisciplinary teams that employ co-creation and co-delivery to add value. Through ceaseless evolution and study of the employee experience, we can use an iterative, people-centric approach to engage, inspire, and develop top talent.

  8. Meaning & Purpose Over Money: Whereas money once served as the key incentive for employees, workers are increasingly seeking meaning and purpose in their work. Recent years have shown a shift in values from financial gain to purpose at work. Putting less emphasis on the substantiality of salary, employees are more concerned with finding a workplace that aligns with their ideals and provides a supportive work culture. Employees who find meaning in their work remain at companies longer and are more willing to go the extra mile. Intrinsically motivated employees also enjoy greater work satisfaction, experience higher levels of engagement, and exhibit increased productiveness. Realizing the significance of creating meaningful work, HR leaders are focusing their efforts on creating and communicating a healthy, employee-centric company culture.

  9. Preparing for the New Workforce: With the iGen (Generation Z, born ca. 1996 and after) entering the workforce, Millennials (Generation Y, born ca. 1981-1995) remain the largest (35% of US workforce) but no longer the youngest generation in the workforce. Post-Millennials, a very diverse generation, will be just as– if not more–influential than Millennials. As digital integrators, who have used technology from the youngest age, they have integrated it seamlessly into their lives. HR must bridge the great divide of generational perceptions and move beyond stereotypes to co-create applicable strategies that engage and lead a diverse workforce– one that thrives on cross-generational learning and teaching. Not only faced with the challenge of responding to the generational demands, HR must also increasingly provide opportunities for gig-based, remote, transient, and international positions, as well as integrate more technology, team-building, and professional development.

  10. HR Agility Goes Mainstream: The next wave of Agile in HR is here. At the forefront of the Agile movement, Human Resources (or People Operations, Talent & Culture, People Experience …) leads the way in this new world of work. Building on the growing excitement, we must continue to champion for the proliferation of Agile mindset, values, principles, and practices throughout organizations and across industries. By shifting the focus to the employee, HR teams can shape a people-centric culture and create contemporary places of work. The Agile transformation challenges HR leaders to continuously reexamine their thinking to create open and inclusive work environments that encourage employees, and ultimately companies, to thrive.


All of these trends will have an impact on HR in this and future years. HR leaders should be thinking through the different trends and the impact they will claim on their organization as well as their profession.


Are you ready to embrace the 2019 challenges?



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About JLS - Agile HR Transformation Consulting

JLS is a woman-owned, global transformation consultancy with a passion for building more robust, responsive, and innovative businesses through Agile HR.