Professional services firm Deloitte recently published its 2017 report on global trends in human capital. Titled Rewriting the Rules for the Digital Age, the report focuses on the fundamental transformation that has occurred in business, the broader economy and society. Not only are these environments changing, but change is happening at an accelerating rate. This revolution presents new challenges in every aspect of organizational management, including the management of human resources, according to the report.

The 2018 version of the study is already underway, with Deloitte soliciting responses via a survey. However, the trends from 2017 will still apply in 2018 and here are some of the 2017 report's key takeaways.

1. There's no area of human resource management that remains untouched.

From training and learning to managing how employees work, standards and expectations are shifting seismically. Companies as a whole are becoming digital, and HR needs to take a leading role in this digitization. Not only will companies digitize HR platforms but they will also need to develop digital workplaces and digital workforces. With the increasing complexity of organizational needs, more companies will be taking advantage of opportunities to outsource human resources functions to specialists who have the capabilities to meet their needs.

2. HR has become strategic through "people analytics"

The attitude toward human resources, once considered a necessary administrative evil and a cost center, is shifting toward a more strategic, advisory oriented role. The new focus in on managing talent, delivering services efficiently, and positioning companies to succeed in the digital environment. A particular emphasis is on "people analytics," as data about employees has become more important than ever. People analytics is now a discipline that supports everything from operations and management to recruiting (talent acquisition) and financial performance. Despite the emphasis on this type of analytical process, very few organizations have the usable data they need, and even fewer have a good understanding of the talent factors that drive performance. With this need for data, human resources outsourcing companies will have even greater opportunities to assist businesses in aggregating, analyzing and leveraging the data they need to succeed.

3. Old habits die hard

A recent survey by CareerBuilder found that while more businesses are looking toward technology to help with time- and labor-intensive talent acquisition and management tasks, many are still relying on old-fashioned manual processes. More than a third don't use automation to recruit, while just shy of half the companies surveyed don't automate onboarding. Most automation involves payroll, benefits and messaging. Most companies that have increased automation report significant cost savings and increased efficiency. As small businesses grow, there comes a time when it no longer makes sense to manage functions manually.

The takeaway?

As companies increasingly automate these human resources functions in order to shift their focus to the strategic and motivational components of human resources management, the opportunities for outsourcing will only continue to grow.

In 2018, Millennials may continue to drive a shift in HR strategies and work environments. Millennials tend to place a higher value on work-life balance and an enjoyable work environment. This has caused a shift in employee experiences for everyone. Some of this can be seen through trends from 2017 such as "people analytics."

Expect trends like that to continue in 2018 as even more Millennials enter the workforce and start to shape new work environments and cultures. Things like employee wellness apps and new feedback tools could change the way HR interacts with employees and gets feedback about a workplace.

This corresponds with an increased push to digitize HR. Things like apps and artificial intelligence will not only help HR connect with employees, but provide valuable new sources of data about productivity, work environment and employee sentiment.

Technology will also be leveraged to assist in hiring practices. New digital tools will allow companies to find better candidates more quickly and easily, further streamlining the hiring process for new employees. Don't overlook these shifts in technology and employee outlook during 2018.

This article was updated March 5, 2018.

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Editor's Note: Looking for HR Outsourcing for your company? If you would like information to help you choose the one that's right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our partner, BuyerZone, provide you with information for free:

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