Talent Management

Top 5 HR Trends for 2016

Published by in Talent Management

“Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.”

HR trends

Niels Bohr, the famous physicist who was instrumental in developing quantum mechanics and an early model of the atom, knows what he’s talking about regarding prediction.  He helped explain Heisenberg’s famous uncertainty principle, which pretty much says it’s impossible to know everything about an object in the present, let alone the future.

Nevertheless, we’re going to attempt the quantum-mechanically improbable and make some predictions about what will be the top HR trends for 2016.

We hope Niels will forgive us.

Hold on to your horses, the New Year is going to be a wild ride for HR professionals and HR technology.  Here are the top five HR trends to look out for in the next 12 months.

1. Gamification in recruiting

It’s already a large and growing part of eLearning and performance management, but plan on seeing gamification start to overhaul the recruiting industry in 2016.  Applicant tracking systems and other recruiting tools will start to incorporate games and gamification functionality this year on the heels of the success of things like Marriott’s My Marriott Hotel recruiting game.  We may also see the use of game-like elements such as badges and points to incentivize employee referrals.

2. Mobile HR

We mentioned this trend in a previous applicant tracking predictions piece, but 2016 is the year more HR tools offer mobile functionality, and more candidates, hiring managers, and HR professionals use their mobile devices to apply, recruit, and work.  Already 40% of Millennials expect online careers websites to be mobile-optimized and, according to JobVite, 43% of job-seekers have used their smartphone or tablet to look for or apply to jobs.  2016 will see those numbers tip into the majority, as more and more of our online experience moves to mobile.

3. Video hiring

Another talent management trend we’ve mentioned before, video for hiring is set to expand a lot this year.  While hordes of studies have repeatedly shown the benefit of video (for instance, career postings with videos get 12% more visits and 34% more applications), recruiters and hiring managers have been slow on the uptake.  Maybe because the high barrier to entry for video scares a lot of them off.  In 2016, we predict new, low-cost video production options and tools will mean more and more HR professionals adopt it as a way to target and communicate with the applicants they’re seeking.

4. Real-time feedback

Annual performance reviews are going the way of the dinosaurs.  Not only do employees hate them, but they’re not effective at influencing and improving employee behavior since they happen so infrequently.  Instead, 2016 will be the year of burgeoning adoption for real-time feedback systems in the guise of apps, social networking tools, and automated, big data insights into employee engagement and performance.  Gamified performance appraisal systems may also use elements like leaderboards and activity feeds to give employees a more real-time view of their performance.

5. Candidate experience moves to the SMB

Big companies have long focused on “candidate experience” (with decidedly mixed results) to make sure their application and hiring process doesn’t needlessly frustrate, demean, or turn away quality job candidates, but 2016 may finally be the year for the little guy to also invest in it.  As applicant tracking and talent management software suites come down in price and move to the cloud, SMBs are getting the opportunity to nab software tools that before they couldn’t cost-justify.  But with these tools come potential issues (like an ATS rejecting good applicants because of incorrect resume formatting).  This, and the advent of Glassdoor and other review sites, means the small and mid-sized businesses adopting new labor-saving tools like ATSs will need to focus on candidate experience if they want to continue attracting high-quality talent.


What else do you think will be important in HR in 2016?  What cool new technologies will forever change how we hire, train, and manage talent in the New Year?  Add your predictions in the comments below!

Header by Rachel Wille

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About the Author

JP Medved

JP Medved

J.P. was formerly content director at Capterra.


Comment by Ramnath @ Pervenio on

Great points! Agreed gamification will evolve with the passage of time, but will it be a affordable solution for SMBs to entice candidates? Will have to wait and watch.

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[…] access information; it’s changing the way businesses recruit new employees. According to Capterra, a free service to help companies find the right software, 2016 will be the year more HR tools […]

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