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3 Human Resource Trends to Watch for in 2017

April 6 2017 - HR is constantly evolving and the changes are much deeper than when the personnel department was renamed Human Resources. This evolution isn't just driven by changing laws and business practices. Technology, financial pressures, and shifting business practices are dramatically altering the job of HR personnel. Let's look at three HR trends to watch for in 2017 and beyond.

Online Education as a Standard Business Practice

Online education is becoming a standard practice for companies. It is more efficient to offer online courses for mandatory training like OSHA safety regulations and sexual harassment training than it is to shut down the office to hold sessions for everyone. While not all training can be done online, shifting a large percentage of training to the web lets Human Resources track each person's educational history and focus on those few who have trouble with the courses.

Online education is also being recognized as equivalent to time in the classroom. For example, if you earn an online master of engineering degree from a reputable school, HR will now consider it equivalent to taking the courses at a brick and mortar school for the sake of tuition reimbursement or educational history. Employers are also more willing to reimburse costs for not just a masters engineering online program, but also other professional continuing education courses required to maintain credentials. This is why 'micro-degree' courses for STEM majors are becoming so popular since you can complete a series of classes focused on one niche and be recognized for the expertise by the institution and an increasing number of employers.

Applicant Tracking Systems

Applicants tracking systems or ATS are killing the traditional process of mailing in your resume in the hope Human Resources calls you back. They shift the job application process online, though companies like Walmart set up kiosks in their stores to allow those without reliable internet access to apply for jobs in their database. The ATS automatically screens submitted resumes for criteria input by Human Resources, eliminating bias against people based on their names or where they live. Human Resources still vet references and qualifications for those left after the ATS has screened them, after which the best applicants are reviewed. This gives HR personnel more time to make sure employees are engaged so that those on the team stay with the company.

The Outsourcing of Human Resources

Human Resources departments are increasingly being outsourced. Companies that have already pooled their resources with other small to mid-sized benefits to save money on health insurance and other benefits are tending to outsource all of their benefits management and other HR functions. This goes far beyond hiring a recruiting firm to take over the first few steps in locating new talent and performing everything through onboarding to managing their payroll while employed at the small business. For small to mid-sized businesses, they gain access to a dedicated HR firm that keeps abreast of various regulations and uses the best technology while reducing overhead costs.

This trend is only an extension of the growth of outsourcing entire departments and relying more on contractors and freelancers. It's one of many that are changing the face of modern HR today.

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