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Nearly 600 Chicago-based HR professionals gathered in early October at SUMMIT 2018 for a full day of education and networking. With the future on their mind, thought leaders discussed new and emerging trends, such as the rise of the gig economy, preparing people for the future of work and the Internet of Things (IoT), to name a few. Out of it all, three underlying themes stood out.

Strategic Thinking

It is imperative for HR professionals to focus on strategic thinking. By regularly asking questions, partnering with leadership and learning your organization’s goals, you can become a more effective thinker. According to a study on strategic leadership, the most important predictor of success at the senior level. One way to develop strategic thinking skills is by setting aside time to ask yourself questions like “What am I trying to accomplish?”, “How will my actions impact other people?”, “Do I have the people, resources and capabilities to accomplish future goals?” or “What are the milestones, timeframes, accountabilities and resources needed?”

Another component of strategic thinking is developing a data strategy and communicating it effectively to others in the organization who may not be as directly involved. As Kami Bond of Uptake stated, “Don’t report the news. Create the news.” Consider your audience when approaching them with findings and recommendations. Thinking strategically about what they need to know will be beneficial for both you and your audience.

Strategic thinking moves into strategic planning, which leads us into our next trend.

Diversity and Inclusion

As diversity and inclusion (D&I) continues to be a front-of-mind initiative for many organizations, developing a specific D&I strategic plan can help shape your organization’s success. Three key components for creating a D&I strategic plan include:

  • Culture

  • Talent

  • Community/Branding

Focusing on inclusiveness and wholeness also plays a role in the three-legged stool of appreciative inquiry, with other factors being in the name of the approach (i.e., appreciation and inquiry). How do you develop an appreciative inquiry approach? Jim Ludema and Amber Johnson, both of the Center for Values-Driven Leadership at Benedictine University, recommend reframing your mindset to create a more positive environment by identifying a challenge’s root, then flipping your perspective from the negative to the positive and connecting it to a larger purpose.

Also presented were the ongoing results from this 2015 “Bridging the Diversity Gap” action plan.

Organization Positioning

Be specific in what your organization has to offer for talent acquisition. Dive deeper into how your company is positioning its mission statement and values. Is the messaging clear? Consider what employees want and need to be engaged. A 2017 global benefits attitudes survey indicated that eight in 10 employees report financial or stress issues, resulting in them being 2x more likely to be disengaged. This can lead employees to miss an average of two additional days per year or be 2.5x more likely to work past age 70.

Because employee finances, health and stress are all connected, organizations have the opportunity to highlight ways they can help, such as providing personalized tools to assist them without intervening directly. Positioning your company as one that supports and implements these tools is a way to sell the organization to potential employees and ensure employee engagement.

Want more trends? Don’t miss SUMMIT 2019! Mark your calendar to join us November 19, 2019 at Hyatt Regency O’Hare.