More HR teams are now utilizing virtual reality technology in the hiring process to simulate an actual day on the job so they can better assess job candidates’ capabilities and ability to manage. (Photo: Shutterstock)

In this “era of unprecedented volatility” for employers: increasing workforce skills gaps, sexual harassment claims and other types of “people risk,” organizations must re-examine how they manage their employees, according to Aon’s report, “People Trends 2018.”

“Organizations have a stark choice: They can continue to wade through this volatility, as they have in the past, or start mitigating their people risk,” the authors write.

The workforce skills deficit is now being exacerbated by recent changes to immigration policies around the world that are impacting the flow of talent from country to country, according to the report. Many organizations have yet to adopt strategic workforce planning measures to set up contingencies for the future.

However, more employers outside the technology sectors are increasingly open to utilizing contingent workers, which helps mitigate hiring and training costs for full-time employees, especially for organizations that experience rapid turnover.

“If organizations intend to continue using contingent workers, talent acquisition and onboarding must keep pace with an increased rate of hiring and turnover,” the authors write. “At many organizations, talent acquisition is still a slow and painful process—one that does not always result in hires who are well matched to their positions. In 2018, we expect to see the talent acquisition process speed up, using more efficient automated systems that provide a first pass at screening employees.”

More HR teams are now utilizing virtual reality technology in the hiring process to simulate an actual day on the job so they can better assess job candidates’ capabilities and ability to manage.

“Organizations benefit by making employee selection more accurate, and candidates benefit by getting a more realistic representation of the job, making it easier to ‘self select’ if the job isn’t what they were expecting,” the authors write.

As the War for Talent intensifies, organizations are trying to lure skilled workers for “mission-critical” positions with ever-new perks, such as paying back an employee’s student loans, providing compassionate care and other benefits, such as autism diagnostic services and behavioral therapies.

“Organizations are also starting to customize rewards for growth-oriented roles, based on demographic factors such as age and marital status, and then using these profiles to build benefit packages,” the authors write. “For example, a mid-20’s software programmer living in a city would likely not need vehicle insurance, but a late 50’s leader would likely need both vehicle and homeowner insurance.”

But even with that type of customization, many organizations are performing pay equity analytics to ensure they are getting pay mix correct for both genders and all ethnicities, and Aon experts expect this trend to become mainstream in 2018.

Organizations are also re-examining their succession planning programs, and more are now thinking of succession planning in the same way as scenario planning – considering a pool of successors with different capabilities based on possible future scenarios, according to the report. They are using metrics to decide on the best leaders, as well as integrating diversity analytics into the decision-making.

“The best companies are integrating other human capital programs, such as strategic workforce planning, into their succession planning metrics,” the authors write.

The chance that sexual harassment claims will arise within the workplace is causing organizations to review their reporting procedures and if necessary, overhaul their cultures.

“Using research on toxic work environments, many organizations are taking a hard look at contributing conditions,” the authors write. “Feedback mechanisms that encourage employees to speak up without fear of retaliation are a step in the right direction, but there is much work to be done to stamp out damaging behavior in the workplace.”

Aon’s report also details the workforce skills gaps within HR departments, including having the necessary talent to be able to run analytics and collect metrics using the new systems that the departments have purchased and integrated into their existing systems. An increasing number of organizations are breaking HR tasks down into buckets—what can be in-house, outsourced, or automated—and then are taking steps to improve their own functions.

“More self-service in HR has reduced the number of administrative tasks, meaning that many professionals may need to rethink their roles and the value they bring to the function,” the authors write. “We see more organizations using their increased bandwidth to connect people data to larger business results, and we expect this trend to continue into 2018. HR practitioners are also looking at ways to make HR more ‘consumer-grade’—fundamentally revisiting HR’s role in the company.”