Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Stories That Impacted HR in 2014

HR trends, identify the most popular content and provide a unique and real-time look into what’s happening in the HR marketplace.
So without further delay, here is a selection of the hot HR topics throughout 2014:


Continuing the trend from 2013, flexible working was a hot topic, as there was significant growth in companies hiring remote workers and offering expanded telecommuting policies. Driving the spike in the topic was one of the most popular articles for the month of January — Telecommuting Is The Future of Work, by Meghan M. Biro. And we continued to see the topics of remote workers, telework and flexible working popular throughout the year.


When the president of the United States gives his annual State of the Union address, the ideas and plans he announces impact HR trends. Two topics President Obama talked about relating to the world of work — equal pay and retirement savings — spiked after his speech. He announced a new “myRA plan” to allow lower income workers to enroll in a new retirement savings plan.


EmployeeAppreciationDay_2014Employee appreciation and employee motivation were top trends as Employee Appreciation Day was recognized on March 7, 2014, and many vendors and HR bloggers took advantage by putting out content on how and why to show appreciation to employees, like this post from Blogging4Jobs. Plus, workplace wellness vendor Virgin Pulse released its U.S. employee survey, which revealed some fascinating insights about how employees really feel about their employers. The results also provided some ideas in what works to motivate employees – it’s not massage chairs or nap rooms.


Two independent surveys released this month focused on the issue of workplace stress. Monster Worldwide’s survey revealed how commonly stress at work causes employees to look for new jobs — a whopping 42% have left jobs due to stress. And a Harris Interactive survey looked at the causes of workplace stress — low pay and long commutes topped the list.


The big topic, and one that continued for several more months, was HR Certification. SHRM’s announcement that it would be launching its own certification program, in direct competition with the longstanding HRCI, was like“dropping a bomb on the HR community,” John Hollon of TLNT stated. And the ripple effects are still being felt.

Working Families SummitJune

Paid leave became a trending topic following the White House Summit on Working Families. The summit put a spotlight on paid parental leave, as well as other issues impacting working families. It is well documented that the United States is the only industrialized nation to not provide paid parental leave.


The Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby caused the topics of contraception mandate, health insurance coverage and Affordable Care Act to spike. However, in spite of the overwhelming media coverage of the decision, some experts in the HR space wrote that the impact on employers would be limited.


The topic of job growth typically spikes once each month with the release of the monthly U.S. jobs report. However, this month the focus was on the increase in higher-paying jobs over lower-paying ones — a good sign for the economy.
And the release of PwC’s Future of Work Report drove the workforce analytics trend. The report revealed that 30% of employees would allow their employers to access personal data such as social media profiles. Doing so could expand employers’ access to new data to analyze performance, productivity and motivation.


Living wage was trending as the United States celebrated Labor Day and the debate on raising the minimum wage carried on. Additionally, in spite of President Obama not getting workforce-related legislation passed through Congress, he brought about changes through executive orders and new rules such as establishing a living wage requirement for federal contractors. Some HR thought leaders opined that this new policy, which impacts nearly one-quarter of the private sector workforce, will eventually filter through the rest of corporate America.


The topic of remote workers spiked again after Reddit announced all of its remote workers had to relocate to its headquarters or be fired. But in spite of this policy change, the growth in telework/flexible working arrangements remained strong.
And another consistently hot topic — equal pay — spiked following a major gaffe by Microsoft’s CEO. Satya Nadella apologized after his comment stating that women should not ask for raises caused a serious backlash. At the same time Gallup released survey results revealing that 30% of Americans think equal pay is the top issue for working women.


Open enrollment was hot in part due to the U.S. Affordable Care Act’s health insurance website launching its second open enrollment season. The launch featured significantly fewer problems than the initial launch.
Veteran’s Day / Remembrance Day pushed the veteran employment trend in November, with new data revealing significant growth in the hiring of veterans over the past year.


With the holiday season in full swing, the topic of employee rewards has trended as voices weighed in on how to best recognize and reward employees during this busy and often stressful time of year.
And wage growth spiked as new stats out of the U.S. and the U.K. revealed very different perspectives on what’s happening in regard to wages in these two countries. In the U.S. they appear to be on the rise, while in the U.K. they experienced a decline.