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SAP researchers study the top human resources meta-trends every year and outline how they’ve evolved. These findings then serve as the foundation for an annual report designed to help HR professionals understand what is changing and how they can best respond. This year’s HR meta-trends report explores what’s new in each trend and offers guidance on how HR teams can support employee job satisfaction and then align career development and learning opportunities with business goals.

Building a reliable, sustainable, and adaptable workforce

Two trends in this year’s report are strongly tied to learning and talent management: learning and internal mobility, and people-centric leadership. These trends are coming from drastically different places on the trends list compared to the previous report, however. Learning and internal mobility still rank second, holding their spots from 2021 despite still seeing changes within the trend itself. The rise of the people-centric leader, however, is entirely new to the report as the eighth trend. To help you understand what’s changing in the former and why the latter is such a hot new topic, we’ll explore each trend and offer some advice to help HR professionals address them.

Learning and internal mobility: From employee-owned to organization-enabled

Organizations continue to encourage their employees to take ownership of their career development, but many are struggling to make this vision a reality. They are also still facing the critical business goal of filling talent gaps. Recruiting, hiring, and retaining talent with in-demand skills that benefit the business remains a priority.

To tackle these challenges, businesses are now looking to gain a better understanding of their workforce’s needs as well as providing their people with more structure and guidance for their learning and development. Many modern software solutions are being leveraged to eliminate this obstacle and to help retain current employees by providing them new opportunities. Another new part of the recruitment trend: considering an applicant’s potential for future development instead of their past benchmarks or their current skills and performance.

Our advice:

  1. Foster a culture of learning by building a work environment where employees are given the time and tools they need to learn new skills and develop their careers.

  2. Provide some structure and guidance for your employees’ learning to help them take ownership of their own career development.

  3. Go beyond traditional approaches to internal mobility, such as job postings or internal career sites, and consider career and development paths that start at recruitment and carry through to retirement.

Leadership: The rise of the people-centric manager

The changing nature of management makes its first appearance on our annual list of HR meta-trends. The roles and responsibilities of people managers are not new, but the changing nature of both work and the workplace – such as teams of people working hybrid roles and across different geographical locations – is changing the competencies required for people management.

The new skills now expected of people managers include assessing performance virtually, setting team expectations for flexible locations and schedules, creating and maintaining positive cultures, and supporting employees as whole people, each with their own passions and goals.

Our advice:

  1. Be cautious of existing biases and promote equity in your people manager processes by using evidence-based competency measurements.

  2. Rethink the idea that career advancement requires someone to become management. Not everyone needs or wants to be a people manager, but that shouldn’t limit their career growth.

  3. Remember that people managers are people, too: Balancing employee burnout, turnover, emotions, and personal issues can cause the person responsible for avoiding team burnout to reach that point themselves.

Read HR Meta-Trends in Learning and Talent Management

Additional Resources