The Greek philosopher Heraclitus was definitely not an HR professional — the pre-Socratic thinker was known as more of a loner than an organization man. But his famous observation that “the only thing that is constant is change” is certainly one that rings true in the quickly evolving world of HR.

Indeed, generational change, technology, and globalization are just some of the major forces impacting the increasingly vital tasks of recruiting and retaining the talent companies require to thrive. Here are a few of the most important trends that HR professionals should be aware of today:

Flexibility is a must. There was a time when employers could feel like they were being especially progressive and accommodating by simply giving workers the option to telecommute or work odd hours. Those days are long gone, thanks in large part to the demands of the Millennial generation. Because Millennials now comprise the largest living generation and account for an increasing percentage of the workforce, employers have no choice but to concede to some of their priorities. One of the top ones is flexibility, which includes the freedom to pursue tasks outside their job description, as well as the ability to finish assignments at a coffee shop.

Nothing is permanent. We all know that the days of spending a career at one company have disappeared. But what’s even more amazing is that 86 percent of employed job seekers are looking for positions outside their current field. The implications of this perpetual career restlessness for HR are profound. Employers that are able to become a genuine resource for workers who want to develop their careers —whether it’s at the company or not — will establish the sort of reputation that attracts top talent.

Outplacement as a benefit. Employers can and should demonstrate their seriousness about developing their employees’ careers by offering a suite of training and educational opportunities. But another interesting trend emerging in HR is the prevalence of generous outplacement services as a core benefit. In fact, according to a RiseSmart study, 61 percent of employers offer employees severance resulting from involuntary separation — a number that is as high as 85 percent in some industries, like healthcare. The severance and job coaching services that constitute outplacement can be positioned as a protective benefit to attract talented workers. With layoffs such a common event, employers who, by default, offer outplacement will naturally stand out among the employers who don’t.

Social media is increasing in importance. Did you check your Facebook page today? When was the last time you updated your LinkedIn profile? Though the use of social media is especially prevalent in younger generations, just about everyone spends time on social media each day. For HR professionals, this unlikely-to-ebb trend translates into the need to have an active and engaging presence on social media in order to attract top job candidates. In fact, one survey noted that nearly 60 percent of employees are more likely to apply to a company if it uses social media.

HR’s role is more vital than ever. There’s a reason more and more companies are creating the positions of “Chief Talent Officer” and “Global Head of Human Resources.” Put simply, no one in the upper echelons of the corporate world is blind to the fact that the best business strategy and products are meaningless without talented employees who can execute. As globalization and increased competition continue to buffet the corporate world, expect the trend of HR executives entering the C-suite to continue.

It is important for HR professionals to not only acknowledge these trends, but also do their part to enact reform and position their talent — and their organizations —for success. Which of these trends are you already acting upon in your department? Which offer areas of opportunity on which you can improve?

10 June 2015

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