A new year will bring its own changes and challenges to the world of human resources. Watch for these four trends in 2016.


Data-driven business

“The biggest HR Trend in 2016 will be predictive data analysis,” writes Kosta Petrov for the Huffington Post. “We’ve talked about big data for some time and now it’s time to start to act on that data and put it to use.”


Data analysis will drive recruiting and hiring, benefits planning, and even measuring employees’ success, writes Tom Haak of the HR Trend Institute.  “When performance can be measured and connected to individuals, top performers seem to perform five to 10 times better than average,” he writes “If HR can find ways to measure real performance, and can improve the detection of potential top performers, the business impact can be big.”


A focus on employee needs

From providing an array of customizable voluntary benefits to helping employees focus on their individual leadership skills, employers should continue investing in their workers.


One example: helping employees improve their financial literacy. “For employers, financial wellness programs that help workers to reduce—or at least better handle—stress about money and debt is a way to improve physical and mental health, lower absenteeism and turnover, and raise productivity,” Stephen Miller writes for the Society of Human Resource Management.


Taking this approach will improve organizational culture and employee engagement, Petrov writes. It’s especially important as the first members of Generation Z, those born between 1994 and 2010, begin entering the workforce. “Executives must place employee engagement and culture as their top most priority in 2016,” he writes. “Further, learning and development (have) an equal foothold in this highly commercialized world.”


Combining enterprise systems to improve transparency and engagement

Employer transparency about policies and systems is another important trend this year.

Historically, companies have “implemented new processes without looking at the big picture in terms of the employee journey and it has become a painful process,” Petrov writes. “Improving the employee experience in a challenging environment will drive engagement and retention.”


This will especially come in handy as employers unveil new consumer-driven health care plans meant to keep costs down, Miller writes. “Consumer-driven, (high-deductible plans) work when employees have adequate information about their benefits and a selection of cost-effective health care services and providers.”


Health care and labor-related regulations

“Employers will continue to struggle with a slew of increasing compliance burdens that are set to expand dramatically in 2016,” Miller writes. “Two of the biggest are the Affordable Care Act (ACA) employee reporting requirements and preparation for wide-ranging changes in employee classification under revised Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA) regulations.”


These factors will mean employers will pass on more costs to their employees, or even encourage employers to hire more freelancers, writes Dan Schawbel for Forbes. “Talent is the greatest cost to companies, and expensive health care benefits will only become more expensive.”