December 28, 2017

2018 HCM trends: Ceridian’s execs on working smarter, AI and the gig economy

The idea underlying the trends and shifts in HCM that leaders expect in 2018 all link back to how the workplace is evolving.

“Leaders are embracing the idea that adopting technology should help us work smarter, and not harder, and that instead of pushing people to do more, we should instead be thinking about what tasks we can leverage technology for, particularly repetitive and administrative ones, to free our people up for higher level, more creative and arguably more challenging and fulfilling activities,” says Ceridian’s SVP Corporate Strategy and Development Justine Kilby.

This becomes more important as workforces increasingly go global. “Employees today can work virtually from anywhere, and companies are increasingly accommodating that. HCM solutions should be, too. Currently, customers have to use a variety of different solutions to cover the countries they operate in, but that shouldn’t be the case, and I don’t think it will in the future,” says Kilby.

Also, HCM practices can be improved by learning from the ways predictive technologies are being adopted across industries and in daily consumer lives. Here, from the perspective of a few of Ceridian’s senior leaders, are some areas of focus for HCM in 2018:

Always-on feedback

The expectations in and of the workplace have shifted drastically. Measuring workplace satisfaction and employee experiences is no longer a once or twice a year endeavor. For organizations to have a pulse of their people, their culture and sentiments of the company, they have to adopt a more regular and simplified way of engaging with and responding to employee feedback.

“There has been a significant shift away from a focus on annual engagement surveys to truly understanding the employee and workplace experiences. With this shift comes the need for more real-time feedback and analysis of the pulse of the organization, the sentiments of the employees, and what is driving their cultural association or disassociation,” says Chief People Officer Lisa Sterling. With this shift will come greater integration of technology platforms and use of AI data in the process.

Moving to an always-on approach to feedback also requires senior leaders and HCM professionals to rethink the very nature of the survey process. “Rethink what you are asking your people. Rethink how often you are engaging with your people to understand their sentiments,” says Sterling. “Change the dynamic and purpose of surveying your employees. Don’t do it because ‘it’s the right thing to do’ or ‘because you’ve always done it.’ Do it because you want to learn how your people feel, what they value, and how they perceive your culture.”

Related: The annual performance review is dead: create a performance development culture instead

Smarter Systems, Technology and Data Privacy and Compliance

Leaders agree that there will be an immense focus on both technology, such as AI, machine learning and Blockchain, as well as data security and privacy (one example being the impending GDPR).

“All of this ties back to the global digital threat landscape and the ability to consume, understand and protect data,” says Ceridian CIO Warren Perlman.

More intelligent systems: AI technology and machine learning

Ozzie Goldschmied, Ceridian’s CTO, says that in the changing world of work, we’ll increasingly see systems becoming more intelligent, empowering employees to be in control of their own experience. HCM systems will continue to trend towards continuous learning and improvement. Users will see improvements in many ways when systems can learn and improve based on their usage data. “We can build systems that can adapt based on the volume of data, and build more intelligent systems, which appear to be learning,” says Goldschmied. “Having the system act like a personal assistant and do tasks on the employee’s behalf, or having reports built automatically because the system sensed that you were going to request it based on your recent history” are all near-future endeavors.

Employers will increasingly use AI to “drive ‘fairness’ and eliminate biases by using algorithms to suggest best candidates or to suggest raises and promotions versus relying solely on individual opinions which carry bias,” says Kilby. “I think you’ll see businesses really looking at their HCM data as an asset versus just as record-keeping, because the bigger and the cleaner the data set, the better it can be leveraged by AI like machine learning to understand patterns and suggest solutions to the business,” she adds.


While Blockchain is not yet widely understood, it is a technology that has the potential to impact HR functions and the broader world of work. “It has the promise to make everything more secure, including the systems and data we have to protect,” says Perlman. He recommends that organizations stay on the leading edge without being on the bleeding edge. “Move to being simple, more proactive and less reactive.” One way to do this is to begin the journey of Blockchain education early, educating teams and understanding infrastructure capabilities.


Regulatory concerns and compliance in general will continue being large areas of focus in 2018, Goldschmied says, further enabling the worker to be more in control of their time and value. “Workplace safety, whistleblowing protection and anti-bullying will be made more mature in most company guides as their basis for respect and decorum,” he adds.

Related: The top HCM compliance issues to watch for in 2018

The rise of on-demand and gig workers, and rethinking of skillsets

It’s projected that by 2020, 40% of U.S. workers will work for themselves). HCM solutions will need to help companies leverage this contract workforce through easy onboarding, daily pay, 1099s and other features. “Being able to easily attract, onboard and train on-demand labor will be a competitive advantage, and HCM solutions will need to help companies do that,” says Kilby.

Building on this, Kilby says that organizations will begin rethinking how they think about the very notion of work, and move from a company-centric focus to a people-centric focus. This means thinking about skills as badges that employees can carry with them from company to company (for example, an employee certified to work at one grocery store could take a class online and be able to jump in at another grocery store).

2018 will be a year of maturation when it comes to blending people and technology together to make more intelligent decisions about the business. But the focus will remain on models that support people, culture and employee experience.

“When your emphasis shifts to the people and their experience, and leaders collaborate in real-time, major shifts can occur and organizations can transform for the future,” says Sterling.

Related: Our top-read posts of 2017

Danielle Ng-See-Quan

Dani is the Senior Manager, Content Marketing at Ceridian.

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