What Can HR Departments Learn From 2018’s HR Trends?

The business world continues to be a landscape of rapid technological change. Mobile devices and the internet have created a culture that is always working and playing on a global scale. The innovative technologies now being used by businesses have the changed many industries, and the very concept of the way that we work is evolving. For HR departments, that means a change in the way that people are hired and managed. The main driving HR trends in 2018 were predominantly technology-related, and that looks set to continue well into 2019 and beyond.

Below are the main trends that made a significant impact on HR in 2018, why they are important, and how they will continue to transform businesses in 2019.

The Expansion of the Cloud

By now, most large companies have already transitioned to cloud platforms for data storage. This revolution in computing has been making a serious impact on HR workers for the last few years, but 2018 saw the adoption of cloud technology as the most commonplace step that businesses took next to financing a business acquisition. HR departments, in particular, have benefitted from the use of cloud platforms. The most significant advantages have been:

    • Reduction in need of in-house IT departments
    • Easier scalability
    • Workflow continuity in the face of external disruption
    • More fluid collaboration on a global scale
    • Worker flexibility regarding location
    • Automatic updating of security and the latest add-ons

Put simply, the use of cloud technology is one of the most important things to happen to HR in recent years, and HR professionals have been making great use of the technology. The cloud is going nowhere, and will continue to be the foundation for many HR departments and their IT requirements.

The Gig Economy

Whether it’s through preference or the employment options available, there’s no disputing that 2018 saw the full impact of the transitional employee. Both freelancers and independent workers have very much become a trend that stood out in 2018, and it seems unlikely that this will change anytime soon. For HR departments, this has lead to a number of distinct challenges, and the trend has been disruptive to say the least.

With estimates that by the time we get to 2020, up to 42 million US workers will be self-employed, and with 42% of those workers being millennials, HR departments are going to have to look at their role from a new angle.


There are benefits. With the need for less in-house, full-time workers, HR departments should be looking at ways to take more advantage of the gig economy. The main advantages of the gig economy trend for business are:

    • Easier and faster scalability during busy periods of rapid growth
    • Reducing ongoing and consistent high wages, with easy cash advance processing
    • Manage the time of workers more productively
    • Ability to make use of specialist professionals as and when needed, giving businesses specific skill sets
    • Greater flexibility in the face of industry transformation and operational changes

HR departments that are not paying attention to the gig economy should certainly be prioritizing it in 2019. Sites like Freelancer and Upwork are simple to use and can be valuable resources, although it’s worth being aware that there are more niche platforms available as well. From science teachers to engineers, there are workers available in every industry.

Artificial Intelligence

2018 was certainly the year that the general public started to realize just how much AI was already integrated into their lives. From Facebook chatbots to the personal assistants on mobile devices, AI seems to be everywhere. HR departments are no different, and the emerging trend is set to become one of the most significant changes to the HR industry over the next few years. For many HR professionals, this is going to mean retraining in order to learn how best to use AI. There seems to be no limit to just how much AI is set to transform the world, but for HR, the following trends have been the most common to see in 2018:

    • Internal HR – AI is being used to boost productivity through the speeding up of internal processes. By making administrative tasks automated, those low-value and repetitive roles can be given to AI instead, freeing up trained workers for more productive tasks such as recruitment and company acquisitions. AI can also be used to identify workers that require or will benefit from training, and can even be used to gauge worker satisfaction and contentment.


  • Recruitment – Every HR professional knows that the recruitment process can be time-consuming and laborious. AI is already being used to assess applications and trim down the relevant resumes. However, the most important element to consider for hiring is that AI is easily able to remove any notion of unconscious bias, meaning that businesses will start to benefit from a more diverse workforce. This has never been so important, and AI could be the most convenient way to ensure that your recruitment process is as efficient, effective, and time-focused as possible.

Additional Trends to Watch

While these three trends have been the ones that have made the most impact on HR departments in 2018, there are two others that are also worth taking note of. While their impact wasn’t truly felt over the last year, their emergence has excited many. The potential benefits of these trends are worth exploring, as they look set to be the next big drivers of industry and HR in the near future:

    • Virtual Reality – For onboarding purposes and interviews, as well as creative design, VR has been making its presence felt in HR through virtual interviews, tours, and even orientation and training.


  • Blockchain – 2018 could have been the year of Blockchain, but the connection with Bitcoin has been hard to distance itself from. However, as more businesses recognize the potential benefits of a public data-flow system that reduces the potential of mistakes and fraud, expect to see more widespread adoption in 2019.

Trends in HR are going to be driven by technology for the foreseeable future. Failing to adapt to the changing needs of businesses and employees will reduce the effectiveness of an HR team, which is why a clear focus needs to be made on technology analysis. Consider these trends and look at how they might work in your own team.

Timothy Kelly

Timothy Kelly

Tim has been a writer for over 20 years covering financial markets and small business. In addition to writing about the financial markets, Mr. Kelly writes extensively about digital marketing and SEO. Mr. Kelly attended Boston College where he studied English Literature and Economics, and also attended the University of Siena, Italy where he studied studio art. Mr. Kelly has been a decades-long community volunteer in his hometown of Long Island where he established the community assistance foundation, Kelly's Heroes. He has also been a coach of Youth Lacrosse for over 10 years. Prior to volunteering in youth sports, Mr. Kelly was involved in the Inner City Scholarship program administered by the Archdiocese of New York. Before creating ForexTV, Mr, Kelly was Sr. VP Global Marketing for Bridge Information Systems, the world’s second largest financial market data vendor. Prior to Bridge, Mr. Kelly was a team leader of Media at Bloomberg Financial Markets, where he created Bloomberg Personal Magazine. Contact Tim tim.kelly@smallbizstar.com