5 HR communication challenges for 2018

Our organisations are changing at an incredible pace. In a landscape of evolving workplaces (and workforces), accelerating technology and a fair amount of uncertainty, HR communication plays a critical role in maintaining employee engagement. But what’s in store for the employee communication of the future?

Here are five key challenges we see on the horizon.

Challenge 1: Dealing with the imminent GDPR Unless you’ve been hiding under your duvet for the past year, you’ll know that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect in May 2018, drastically tightening up data protection and privacy rules. This will have a huge impact on how companies store and use personal data – both employee and customer data.

  • Companies who misuse personal data face fines of up to €20 million or 4% of annual worldwide turnover, whichever is higher (1)

With the government confirming that GDPR will not be affected by Brexit, HR teams will be grappling with some serious data challenges in 2018. Transparency will be key, particularly around what, how and why employee data is stored and processed.

Challenge 2: Communicating mergers and acquisitions Global M&A activity, specifically private equity buyouts, soared in the first nine months of 2017 and will continue to rise throughout 2018:

  • Private equity buyout activity in the US and Europe is at its highest level for a decade (2)
  • Global M&A activity is expected to rise to a peak of $3 trillion in 2018 (3)

As M&A activity ramps up, HR communication must raise its game. In times of change, HR comms must become more genuine, personal and dynamic (think video as well as email announcements) if they’re to provide meaningful reassurance, maintain engagement and thwart the morale-sapping rumour mill.

Challenge 3: Engaging with an increasingly dispersed workforce Businesses are becoming less about traditional hierarchical structures of in-house employees and more about flexible networks of talent.

  • Nearly 38% of the global workforce is classed as ‘non-employee’, which includes contingent workers, gig workers, freelancers and independent contractors (4)

The challenge for 2018 is not just finding communication platforms that work for a dispersed workforce, but also integrating those remote workers into the company culture so that they feel engaged.

Challenge 4: Leveraging AI and other big data technology (without freaking out your people) From HR chatbots that can advise employees, to workers kitted out with wearable devices, AI and big data technology is already transforming our workplaces.

  • Three Square Market recently became one of the world’s first companies to microchip employees (5)
  • In the next few years, roughly 13 million wearable devices will be integrated into corporate wellness plans (6)

In 2018, HR teams must communicate transparently about what these new technologies bring to the workplace, and the benefits to employees. It’s also vital that employee data is safeguarded to maintain trust.

Challenge 5: Turning employees into advocates In the social media age, the line between employees’ lives and the company they work for is becoming increasingly blurred. This is great news for employers who can leverage employee advocacy to promote the company to customers and potential employees.

  • 50% of employees post about their employer on social media (7)
  • Employee advocacy results in five times more web traffic and 25% more leads (8)

One sure-fire way to foster employee advocacy is to clearly define and communicate what the company stands for. When those values align with your employees’ values, they’re much more likely to wax lyrical about the company.

Crystal ball or no, one thing’s for sure: 2018 promises to be an interesting year for HR. Discover how Caburn Hope can help you navigate these challenges and deliver consistent employee communications that inspire and engage.

(1) Regulation (EU) 2016/679 – Official Journal of the European Union
(2) Value of private equity dealmaking at highest level since 2007 – Financial Times
(3) Global Transactions Forecast – Baker McKenzie
(4) The State of Contingent Workforce Management 2016–2017 – Ardent Partners
(5) Microchipping workers – Personnel Today
(6) Corporate Wellness is a 13 Million Unit Wearable Device Opportunity – ABI Research
(7) Employees Rising – Weber Shandwick
(8) How Great Companies Engage in Employee Advocacy Beyond Simply Sharing Content – Inc.