Several HR-related topics became the center of conversations in 2018. Mainstream news headlines prompted increased attention on topics that included discrimination, diversity, sexual harassment, and workplace culture.

What’s in store for this year? In 2019, issues like fair and equal compensation, unions and worker representation, and better defenses against harassment will become increasingly important. In order to come up with solutions to these issues and tackle these challenges, HR strategies will have to change.

Here are some of the top trends experts predict will shape HR departments in 2019, according to HR Dive:

1. The role of culture in an employer brand
As consumers have become more value-driven, so have employees. With more information readily available about a company’s mission, charitable giving, and treatment of employees and partners, potential employees are placing a lot more weight on a company’s culture and values, especially during the hiring process. Experts note that “employees are looking to companies to be less passive and to ‘show up’ to certain moral events.” Employees want to work for companies with values that mirror their own, and it will be HR’s job to ensure that company values are well-defined, enforced, and visible in order to attract future hires.

2. A new focus on where the work is being done
More employees are seeking out remote positions than ever before. HR’s job will be to facilitate ways that this can happen and to monitor systems that ensure that no matter where work is getting done, it’s be performed seamlessly. As reported in HR Dive, “HR may be held accountable for more aspects of the employee experience than it may have been in the past, including a functional tech experience — something more traditionally the purview of IT.”

3. Leveling the playing field for women and minorities
Pay equality was a popular topic in 2018 and is showing no signs of losing momentum as a top priority among HR departments. Addressing the disparity in paychecks, as well as the number of women and minorities in C-suite positions, will have to be a major focus of HR departments not only this year but in the next several years to come. Closing the global gender pay gap is estimated to take 108 years, but the groundwork for that progress is being laid now.

4. AI as a partner, not a threat
As attitudes have warmed toward AI over the last few years, HR departments have begun to find ways to use it that will streamline some of their most basic processes. One area you can expect to see AI embraced this year is in the talent recruitment process. In the past, that process has been painstakingly slow although the use of machines to automate the process is certain to speed it up and allow more time for HR reps to dive into personal one-on-one relationships with the employees they serve.

5. The talent acquisition panic
As the unemployment rate continues to decline, companies are finding that their turnover rates are increasing. Organizations need to be doing all that they can to attract and keep top new talent. Providing a better employee experience, in everything from the application process, training, and company culture is key. A robust HR department, whose primary focus is on acquiring and keeping new talent, will be important in 2019.

Read the full list of trends here.

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