Common challenges

Top 5 HR Trends

August 02, 2016

The world of human resources is constantly changing and it remains as important as ever for HR professionals to forecast and adapt to new HR trends which impact and refine their roles. Demographic shifts, changing human needs, wearable and portable technologies, and legislative amendments are continually transforming the role of HR professionals and the way HR operates. Let’s take a look at HRdownloads’ top five human resource trends to consider for 2016 and beyond.

1. Demographic shiftsDemographic shifts impacting the workforce continue to be of interest as baby boomers retire in large numbers. Inevitably, millennials will be called upon to enter management roles and organizations will become reliant on these new leaders to ensure continuity in the delivery of products and services. Organizations will be forced to create and lead workplace cultures that foster loyalty and retention, in order to avoid disruptions resulting from unexpected departures. Moreover, we will see the first wave of Generation Z enter the workforce, bringing with them another shift in workplace expectations, culture, and leadership norms which have yet to be fully explored.

2. Focus on well being

The health and wellbeing of employees will continue to serve as a focal point in HR strategy. According to Statistics Canada, over half of working Canadians report feeling burnt out or depressed. Consequently, Canadian organizations may experience increased costs related to turnover, absenteeism, presenteeism, and reduced productivity. Legislation has been implemented to support mental health and wellbeing, for example including PTSD legislation as a presumptive workplace illness for first responders in Ontario, and the extension of compassionate care Employment Insurance benefits. This type of legislative changes, along with programs that support mental health and wellbeing, are expected to continue and evolve.

Download our Workplace Mental Health Policy and help promote a healthy workplace at your organization.

3. Wearable and portable technologies

One trend for 2016 is the use of wearable and portable technologies throughout organizations. Coinciding with the changing workforce demographic, many employees are requesting access to information through portable devices, and through apps. Organizations can channel these technologies to further engage employees, receive instant feedback, conduct performance check-ins, and incorporate these tools into the training and development process. Moreover, apps have or will likely be developed that simplify many HR processes and functions, such as attendance management, expense reimbursement, marketing, and recruitment. But the use of technology also creates additional challenges, whereby organizations will need to find solutions that ensure the safety and security of valuable and confidential information

4. Continued focus on gender, as well as sexual violence and harassment

Issues related to gender, sexual violence, and harassment continue to be an HR concern for 2016 and beyond. Legislation has been updated in many provinces to heighten an employer’s responsibility in preventing sexual and gender based violence in the workplace. 

Additionally, legislative changes across Canada continue to add, support, or propose gender identity and expression as protected grounds. These amendments are designed to preserve the rights of all people in the LGBTQ community, and require workplace support and adherence. They uphold the notion that all people deserve fair and equal treatment in the workplace, regardless of individual differences.

5. Employee engagement and leadership development

Organizations are continuing to focus on driving performance by improving employee engagement and leadership development.  Employee engagement is strongly correlated with achieving business outcomes that are critical to an organization's productivity, profitability, and customer satisfaction. Employees are demanding a more fulfilling workplace experience and opportunities for advancement.  This, in tandem with the exodus of skilled workers, creates a need to find innovative and cost effective ways to create loyal employees who can fill vacated leadership roles and lead their organizations into the future.  Want to learn more on how to engage your employees in ways that are unique to your workplace? Check out "But Wait, There's More: The Benefits of Unique Employee Incentives".


Like great prize fighters, HR professionals and business leaders should not wait to be hit with a big challenge before adjusting to it. It is important to look to the future and forecast the challenges that lie ahead. Otherwise, you could end up on your heels and reacting, rather than on your toes ready to adapt and evolve with the times. Be aware, stay ready, and you will be able to overcome what lies ahead in the field of human resources.

While HRdownloads uses reasonable efforts to maintain this site/blog and its Services in an up-to-date fashion, it does not warrant the completeness, timeliness or accuracy of any information contained on this site/blog or any of its Services, whether in English or French, and may make changes thereto at any time in its sole discretion without notice. All information and Services provided by HRdownloads are provided to members and/or users “as is”, “with all faults,” “as available” and at the sole risk of members and/or users. Our human resources information and recommendations are based on seasoned, best practice field experience and should not be construed as legal advice.