Towards the end of each year, we HR professionals look back at the year gone by and begin to think about what might be coming up in the year to come. Technology is always a major player in planning for the new year. However, looking back over 2014, what was the biggest topic in HR? In a word, “talent.” From talent management to talent acquisition to talent development and talent retention – 2014 was all about the talent.

There was also a lot of media coverage in 2014 about retail and fast-food workers demanding pay increases. In just about every state, a minimum wage increase was on the ballot, and the discrepancy between the top 1% and the rest of the workforce was in the news. Job growth and unemployment figures as we continue to climb out of the big recession were constantly in the news as well.

We saw a lot of instances of customer service interactions going viral via social media – both good and bad. Then, there was the rise of “company culture” as an advantage in recruiting, and the importance of having a great personality as a key component to getting a new job. But let’s not forget the hundreds, if not thousands, of articles with advice and tips on how to attract and retain talent. It’s been all about talent in 2014, and that trend is bound to continue in 2015. So, here are a few things to consider as you plan for the new year in HR.

  1. Simplify your application process. The war for talent is not a myth, and it stands to continue for the foreseeable future. Jobs seekers are frustrated with cumbersome application processes and belabored job descriptions. So why not streamline the process a little bit? Go through your own application process and time it. If it takes more than 10 minutes, consider implementing some major revisions. Some employers have the attitude that if an applicant really wants to work for them, he or she will sit through a long process. But that means they are banking on desperation – and do you really want desperate workers? Set your company apart by having an easy-to-use application process that gives you an advantage in the war for talent.
  2. Pay up. No one wants to hire employees who are only interested in the money; however, compensation is a very important aspect of engagement and productivity. When you fail to meet the compensation requirements or expectations of an employee, he or she will never fully trust you or work hard for you. Unhappy employees will do the bare minimum and look for other jobs. They also won’t refer anyone else to work for you, and referrals are still the Number 1 source of talent acquisition. Of course, some candidates will have unreasonable salary demands that cannot be met. But others won’t. If a candidate requests a salary that is within the acceptable range, why not meet it, or, even better – exceed their expectations?
  3. Have fun. When I asked a Director of HR who had recently started with a new company, “What are you going to focus on this new position?” she said, “Play more.” She went on to say that she intends to have more fun at work and allow her team to use gamification as an engagement tool. This just means applying the metrics and principles of games to your processes and activities. Most people are competitive by nature and love to have fun, so by using a blend of modern technology along with the principle of games, you can create a fun environment and keep your team productive and engaged.
  4. Apply new technology. Okay, “technology” is obviously a low hanging fruit when you’re trying to predict the future of anything, but it’s still true: you always need to be learning new technology. There are companies out there that are still using Windows 97, Excel, and other older applications to manage everything. All too often, companies are limited by vendor contracts that don’t allow them to switch to a new system or application. But then there are other situations in which no one has even bothered to look into the possibilities. Change is uncomfortable, but if there are products and systems available that can increase collaboration, offer more features, provide more robust reporting, and save a lot of time and money, then it makes sense to upgrade.
  5. Negotiate better. Here is a bonus tip for the HR professionals, specifically: learn how to negotiate better in 2015. Human resources is not a money-generating department – although we save resources and we make a big financial impact by providing quality employees that are well worth their pay. Unlike sales, marketing, product development, or even branding, HR doesn’t directly bring in money. But we do help contribute to the financial well being of the company by saving money on salaries, benefit packages, vendor services, and preventing legal employment issues. Don’t be afraid to track your contributions and negotiate to have those funds (or at least a portion of them) budgeted for your strategic HR initiatives.

In conclusion, you should always pay attention to industry trends and keep up on the evolving preferences of your specific workforce. By simplifying your process, you’ll make it easier for top talent to find you, and vice versa. When you pay your people well and fairly, it decreases the likelihood of them becoming disengaged and looking elsewhere for respect. And by injecting fun into your workplace you also help your reputation, company culture, and of course, employee engagement. Lastly, take care of your talent. Give them the latest tools and technology, so they can work as efficiently as possible to meet the challenges to come.


  • Stancy Wilden says:

    I hope the New Year will bring us all more understanding toward others, more wisdom in the recruiting process, and more valuable people in our companies! I think that this is what every HR professional wants. It is not very easy to work with people, and sometimes finding the right man for the right job can be a real challenge! Good luck to all of you in the new year, and I hope we all have interesting articles to read! I wish you a new year better than the last one, and more productivity!

  • Clara says:

    It was truly a year of challenges and tests for everyone. Better said, it was a difficult year for all employees, and not really for the managers. We can all still feel the effects of the economic crisis, and it is not easy for ordinary workers to cover all their expenses and handle everything only with their salary. We can only hope for a better year. We all need to have the optimism to move forward in the daily fight for our survival and our families.

  • Brian J. says:

    I liked your suggestions very much, but I do not know how many managers will be willing to follow them. The hardest one is the suggestion to pay more money to the employees or to pay them on merit. We all still feel the effects of the financial crisis and of the budget cuts, so there is not enough money for this. I loved your suggestion number 5! It is excellent! I liked the way you put the situation, so I will prepare a great speech to negotiate better about money with the management!

  • Tina T. says:

    In the company where I work, I would love to implement all of the suggestions you wrote about in this article! It would be an almost ideal situation if we all could do these things in all the companies in the country. I would even dare to suggest that it would be advisable to get closer to our employees to get to know them better, so that we will be able to motivate them more and create a win-win situation.

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