Three HR trends that no one talks about anymore.
Trends come, trends go.
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Hi friends 👋 and happy Friday!
I'm always very happy when more subscribers find their way here - welcome!
Today is about trends, not future trends, but past trends. Since 2010, I've been monitoring trends at HR and gathering information about what's hot and what's not. I've been digging deep into the archives and looking at what was hot in the past to find out why we don't talk about it anymore.
HR Trends come, HR Trends go. And I usually talk about the HR Trends that come. But let's flip that and talk about the HR Trends that are gone.
We are a bunch of <insert> who like to talk about the future of work and HR, but we rarely look backward at the trends—the trend we all hyped back in the day. Let's be nostalgic and try to understand what these hypes were about and why they are gone.
Jump back a couple of years; every HR conference around the globe had some talk about gamification. Everything should be gamified. Engagement scores should be gamified. Training should be gamified. Recruiting should be gamified.
And then we stopped talking about it. Why? Partly because it became part of our systems and tools. (And) partially because it wasn't working very well. Many companies tried to use gamification to make their workforces more productive - to make employees more engaged - and it didn't work. People become complacent.
So, what changed? We haven't "gone away" from gamification per se. We've just shifted our approach a bit. Instead of trying to force a gaming approach into everything we do, we're now focusing less on gamification for the sake of gamification and more on the value gamification could create for the organization as a whole. But as a buzzword and a "trend" - more or less, no one is talking about gamification anymore.
Is it good? Is it bad? I don't know; I'm just reflecting that no one is talking about gamification anymore. Perhaps we should talk more about it?
Ah, the good old big data! I remember vividly how much talk there was about big data and how it would revolutionize HR. And to some extent, it has! We are exceptionally further ahead when it comes to utilizing data now in HR vs. a couple of years back! Here is a trend that brought value to us. We became better over time at using big data in our organizations. But here's the big, red but - we still aren't where we should be.
Sure, we are using data to make decisions and identify patterns. But the real value is yet to come. We're just scratching the surface with all that data, and we haven't figured out how to use it to its full potential for our organizations. And the grand vision that many had a couple of years back is yet to be realized.
To some extent, we've embedded this more than gamification, but big data as a term is dead. Now it's people analytics or whatever we use to describe the area. It has transformed (which is good!) into something more meaningful and valuable for us.
Before the COVID pandemic came down and hit us all right in the face, AI was the talk of the town. Every HR Tech product had AI built in. AI would most likely replace us all shortly. And then, suddenly, everyone shifted focus and away blew all talk about AI.
Back then, there were a lot of promises and talks about the significant impact AI would have on the workforce. And while some have come true, like chatbots, automation of specific tasks, and the like, we are still far from realizing the true potential of AI for HR. AI is not as widespread as I and many others thought it would be now. The quote about how we overestimate technology in the short run but underestimate it in the long term still holds true. In short, AI is still limited in its capabilities.
But does it mean that the trend is dead? I would say no. It’s now starting to resurface to some extent, but not as nearly as intense as it was before. But this will begin to pick up momentum again, slow but steady. The pandemic will be a small bump in the AI hype curve, but we will return to pre-pandemic levels soon.
Dwelling on the trends?
So why am I dwelling on all these old hypes? It is essential to take trends for what they are. Sometimes there are substances to a trend; sometimes, there are not. Part of our job is to try to navigate these waters, what matters and what makes an impact in our organizations. Because as we all know, time is usually a limiting factor, and we want to spend time on making our organizations better, faster, and more efficient. And then, we need to determine what to bet on and what to skip. Because if we are going to commit our time and resources to something, then we damn well better do it right and not chase random trends and fads.