Human Resources is an extension of our humanity. Finding, losing, and pursuing a job or career is inextricably tethered to larger shifts in political leadership, economic trends, and cultural events. Few will dispute that 2017 was a uniquely compelling and perplexing year in the world of human resources. From combative national politics and groundbreaking sexual harassment revelations to the continued rise of digital technologies and an encouragingly robust economy, this past year has given us all reasons to be hopeful, and wary, of what might happen in 2018.

HRFR believes these 5 trends will define the year ahead for the HR industry, and everyone touched by it:

1. Women Will Rise
We are experiencing an unprecedented and long overdue evolution in our culture. Men who have used power and influence to intimidate, manipulate, and coerce women into sexual acts, silence, or other forms of personal oppression at the workplace will continue to fall. Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Louis C.K., Bill O’Reilly, Mark Halperin, Kevin Spacey and the litany of others are just the beginning. Whenever a person or society frees themselves from darkness and experiences the power of light, returning to that darkness becomes a non-option. Though still in power, Donald Trump is unequivocally a part of these misogynists and predators, as are Alabama’s Roy Moore and Representative John Conyers—and everyone who supports them. Those still defiant and who believe they are above the law and winds of justice will increasingly feel vulnerable in 2018. As they should. Women will rise.

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2. Technology Will Replace Pedigree
For centuries the value of an individual person was largely attributed to the quality of the college or university they attended—which, let’s face it, was often a reflection of their family or the community in which they were raised. Job prospects who graduated from Ivy League universities such as Yale and Harvard were more desirable than those who graduated from larger and less selective state schools or, even lower on the social scale, community colleges. Technology, however, is changing this. 4 + 4 = 8 in every math class in every school, regardless if that school is an elite uptown Manhattan private school or a poor, rural single-classroom school in wilds of Montana. Technology only cares if a coder can code well. Computer science doesn’t care what you look like, how much money your father gave to his alma mater, or whether or not you had the most impressive blend of social interest and academic achievement on your resume. Tech jobs, which are the future, just want you to be proficient. It’s binary, not emotional, or biased, or racist. Technology will increasingly replace pedigree in 2018.

3. Your Employee Probably Smokes Weed
No, not at work. But at home, and most certainly while on vacation. Our culture continues to view the consumption of marijuana as an increasingly personal choice that is no more harmful than drinking alcohol and especially less harmful than highly addictive cigarettes. In many parts of the country weed is outright accepted. This permissive perception of marijuana will only continue to spread in 2018, drawing it to the forefront of HR rules and regulations in countless office buildings and workplaces. Regardless of whether or not your business culture requires drug tests and considers the consumption of marijuana as a reason to “weed” out job candidates, the truth is more and more qualified job candidates consider the consumption of marijuana as a personal choice. And businesses that choose not to accept candidates who use marijuana will have a much smaller pool of candidates to choose from. Chances are, in 2018, many of your prospective job candidates will have consumed weed recently.

4. The Sun Will Never Set on Employees
From graphic designers and computer programmers to financial consultants and email marketing strategists, once traditional full-time jobs held by onsite employees will be contracted out to part-time workers, freelancers, and entrepreneurs who will be spread across the world. Businesses will employ and manage offsite workers from Cambodia to Connecticut, meaning that someone on their payroll will be working for the company at any given minute; regardless of the time, an employee of the company will be hard at work performing a job or fulfilling an assignment that they will submit to who someone else far away, and who is probably just waking up and heading to work. In the new global economy, the sun will never set on a business’s employees, and work will be a 24-hour enterprise.

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5. Your US Employees Will Be Broke and Transient
Yes, the economy is churning along. But most young professionals in America are still graduating from school burdened by incredible debt—which will take them years, if not decades, to pay off. Young, and not-so-young, Americans saddled by debt know that companies, despite a flourishing economy, are hesitant to give raises, particularly meaningful life-altering raises. In fact, most know the best means of securing a reasonable boost in salary is not to make a scene at their current job by demanding a raise, but to switch jobs and negotiate a higher salary during the process. This trend will only continue in 2018 as employees seek to stabilize their financial situations before their most lucrative money-earning years pass them by. Expect them to come, and go, within two or so years. In 2018, your employees will be broke and transient. And it’s not their fault.

Happy 2018! HRFR wishes you, your employees, and your company a happy, healthy, and productive new year!

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