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What 2018 Means For The Future Of HR

The art of human resources (HR) has gone through many permeations throughout the years. What was once considered as a draining but necessary afterthought for many business owners now receives its rightful recognition as central to the success or failure of a business

Without an effective HR management system, business owners have no idea how their employees are feeling about their jobs. Day-to-day, employers might claim they don’t care about issues like these. However, with as much as £30k spent to replace a staff member, they may well regret that stance if their employees leave and they have no idea why.

At its heart, HR is about keeping your employees satisfied with their work. So, what will 2018 bring to this field? And what will any of this mean for the future of HR?


1. The death of HR psychology myths

You might recall being in a job where someone told you what kind of learner you are. This 20-minute presentation, hour-long session, or questionnaire might have even culminated in some actionable advice that your HR team told you to follow. You might have even been given goals based on your result.

The issue is that the idea of “learning styles” has no scientific evidence to back it up whatsoever. It is perfect example of pseudoscience — nonsense ideas with no evidence to support them dressed up as scientific fact — and it’s this sort of thinking which has been damaging HR for years.

Studies which have since been disproved or discredited still form the cornerstone of the HR approach in some companies. Spiral dynamics, forced ranking systems, and the situational leadership model are just some of the pseudo-scientific ideas which continue to affect HR decision making in some of the biggest companies in the world, despite the data behind them being sketchy at best.

Small businesses shouldn’t feel the need to copy these trendy — and wrongheaded — ideas just because that’s what big businesses are doing. Instead, small businesses need to figure out what works best for them. The best way to do that is with hard science.


2. The death of annual reviews

Even in 2014, annual reviews were starting to look outdated. So, by the end of 2018, annual reviews need to be dead and long forgotten. If 2018 is going to be the year we ditch the pseudoscience and embrace the real science, the biggest part of that needs to be eliminating annual reviews. After all, the data is in: most employees, employers, and HR experts don’t see the value of annual reviews.

So, if no-one likes them, why do we keep doing them? Habits are hard to break out of. As mentioned above, it’s very easy for small businesses to continue to do annual reviews because that’s just what the big businesses do. However, that’s the wrong attitude to have. After all, the great thing about being a small business is the ability to be nimble.

With that in mind, 2018 needs to be the year in which nimble, small businesses abandon the clunky formalities of an annual review for something which suits small and big businesses much better.


3. The embracing of continuous performance management

Continuous performance management sounds complex, but it’s actually intuitively simple. Rather than reviewing employees once a year with some big, showy, stressful review that no-one enjoys and no-one values, continuous performance management is about regular, pragmatic check-ins.

In layman’s terms, this new type of performance management cycle means more dialogue, more often. It sounds so simple, yet the data shows that many businesses still aren’t doing it. As such, what should be a weekly task that takes a few hours to prepare and analyse becomes a yearly thing which can take a whole month to prepare and analyse.

The data shows that continuous performance management is more effective than an annual review because employers and employees can work on something week on week. It’s like exercise. Jogging three times a week for half an hour is much more beneficial than cramming over 500 hours of running into the last month of the year.

Whatever 2018 has in store for HR, it’s going to be exciting. This is a year which promises many scientific breakthroughs and it’s a year which is far from over yet. HR is bound to change as time marches forward — and there’s a lot of reasons to believe it’ll change for the better.


Stuart Hearn is the CEO of Clear Review and a performance management specialist with over 20 years of experience in the HR sector. Through his work with Clear Review, he has developed an innovative performance management software system used by some of the world’s leading businesses.

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