525,600 Minutes. Five Predictions.

The year draws to a close, and we look to the next. If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that the biggest things – both good and bad – are the ones we least expect. But that doesn’t stop us from preparing as best we can for what’s ahead. So here are my thoughts on what we may see coming in the next year.

1. People’s work lives and financial lives will become increasingly entwined. Most of us already count on our work paycheck to pay for our daily lives, but we are increasingly seeing financial services and payroll intersect. Individuals have long trusted employers to help administer their 401(k) contributions and payments for benefits coverage. The trend towards directly debiting rent, bills, and other investments directly from paychecks will continue, as payroll technology and fin tech get closer together.

2. Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, and bots will become is integrated with HCM as social and mobile are today. 10 years ago mobile and social were checklist items on the RFP, but didn’t often have a strong use case. Now when people discuss social and mobile capabilities, it tends to be with a true business purpose in mind – efficiency, accuracy, transparency. As we become accustomed to the capabilities AI brings, they will become less shiny objects, and more true business tools.

3. There will be resurgence of the professional manager. We ask a lot of managers today, and the future will seem to bring even more to their plate. We ask them to be the key translation point between business strategy and day-to-day employee activity. They are the front line of performance management, culture, and retention. They are increasingly taking on responsibility for compensation and communicating around compensation, as well as confronting daily issues like harassment, discrimination, and workplace well-being. Training and expertise will be required, and become the new standard of modern managers.

4. Playing nice will become a core vendor competency. Buyers have had enough of difficult integrations, pressure to abandon existing systems, and unified solutions in name only. They want what they want, the way they want it. Technology organizations that can both offer a world-class user interface of their own, as well as truly integrate and collaborate with others to serve the needs of the customer, will be the winners. Buyers will make decisions on what their most important processes are, and expect providers to work together to deliver the technology combination they need and want.

5. Equity won’t be here yet. The #metoo movement and increasing legislation designed to support pay equity have been powerful. But it’s going to take a long time for us to really absorb these changes. We all deserve safe, equitable circumstances under which to make a living. Sunlight is the best disinfectant for toxic culture, but the process will not be quick or painless. We’re making strides, but there is still a long way to go. It will require each of us to be accountable for our own behavior, as well as calling each other out in the moment when we see bad behavior in others.

Agree? Disagree? Have your own thoughts? Bring them on – would love to hear from you. And I wish all of you the best and brightest new year!