Major HR trends for 2019

This year will be a challenging one for HR professionals in the UK. The next 12 months are predicted to be tumultuous for many businesses; we are likely to see employee demands grow in this candidate driven market, especially as generation Z enters the workforce and millennials progress to more senior and management positions.

Here are the top trends that will drive talent attraction and retention in 2019.


HR has previously used a standardised formula with each employee offered the same experience across the board. However, this year we will see a dramatic shift towards personalised approaches to suit individual needs and wants of candidates and employees.

In this new era of HR, employers will need to ask themselves: how do we adapt the recruitment process to appeal to a larger pool of candidates and tailor the onboarding experience so that it suits each individual.

This will become increasingly popular as markets become more competitive. Companies who invest in a personalised training approach will find that their employees’ strengths are shining through, resulting in a more positive and productive workforce.

Personalisation will also be used to tailor interviews or talent attraction to overcome the candidate shortage hiring managers are facing. By using data effectively, companies can target potential applicants with more tailored job ads that highlight what candidates seek from their job.

Learning and development will be focusing on more one to one training to utilise an employees’ full potential. At the moment, trainers are still offering sessions which are delivered to a group of employees from across the business together, leading to a poor training experience.

In 2019 personalisation will get a lot of attention, and both employees and organisations will benefit from it.

Intelligent Recruitment

AI is being used in many ways even in recruitment. Both Amazon and Unilever have used AI to find their top employees.  

On average, Unilever recruits for 30,000 people every year and processes around 1.8 million job applications. AI offers them a tool to save time and resources. In 2018, the consumer goods company partnered with an AI recruitment agency to create an accessible platform where candidates are screened.

The software first asks candidates to play a selection of games to test their aptitude, logic and reasoning. After completing this, candidates are asked to submit a video interview which is assessed by a machine learning algorithm. The algorithm examines the video through a mixture of body language and natural language processing.

With the rise in AI recruiting, it’s vital to ensure the systems are working optimally. In October 2018, Amazon had to scrap their AI recruitment tool as it was favouring male candidates to female ones. The tool quickly started to penalise CVs which included the word women, such as “women’s football team”.

This happened because the system was trained on job applicant data which was submitted over a 10-year period of which most was from men.

However, despite Amazon’s failed attempts at AI, Undercover Recruiter predict that 16% of HR jobs will be replaced with AI over the next five years.

Prominent employer branding

Companies leveraging branding as a culture-building and recruiting tool will continue in 2019. This requires a shift from being reactive to proactive. Rather than reacting to how their organisation is perceived online, in reviews and ratings, companies will use more content led storytelling to promote company values. By doing so, organisations can attract talent that matches their culture. Prospective applicants’ interaction with a brand can help them determine whether they’re a good fit for the company.

The important thing is for the company’s internal, day-to-day culture to match the brand that they’re sharing with the world. Because if there’s a disconnect, new hires will quickly realise, word will get out, and employee loyalty could drop, and talent attraction will become more difficult.

In a job market where the best talent can be hard to find, employers must stand out to candidates and show that they can offer them more than a competitive salary.


Although the demand for training and development has increased over the past generations, mentoring is at the forefront for employees.

The primary role of a mentor is to use the experience and knowledge they have gained to help an employee. Mentoring focuses on helping colleagues work towards their future career ambitions rather than achieving day-to-day goals.

A mentor relationship between an employee and their manager is to coach the employee with new skills, tasks or knowledge. Mentoring can help with career progression, motivation, leadership development and boosting confidence.

The millennial generation is driving the need for strong mentors in the workplace. A recent study by Deloitte suggests that 43% of millennials want to leave their job within two years, but 28% will stay five years if they have a robust mentoring programme. In a recent article from Raconteur, it’s predicted that generation Z will need mentoring to keep them satisfied at work.

With each position offering similar salaries and benefits, it’s becoming more likely that training and mentorship could be the deciding factor for candidates.

Improving overall work-life balance

Work-life balance has been a talking point for some years, but employees are still struggling to find the time to enjoy life outside of work.

There are a number of factors which are affecting work-life balance – flexible hours, achievable workloads and targets, and culture.

Many employees are finding it a challenge to ask for the above. There have been numerous reports of employees’ request for flexible hours being refused or workloads exceeding their working hours leading to burned out and overworked staff.

In many reports by Financial Advisor, The HR Director and CIPD, flexible working is expected to improve productivity and employee morale. But some employers argue that it doesn’t suit the business needs and can damage communication which creates gaps in service.

Companies such as PWC have really started to push their work-life balance and flexible working. They have worked closely with the senior team and directors to promote their understanding and mature culture for parents who need agile working to balance a career and childcare.

A higher number of companies are offering flexitime, better packages and flexible annual leave. The way people work is changing and companies must adapt to retain talented employees and attract new ones.




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