Any guesses to what the most popular New Year’s resolutions are for 2018? One December 2017 survey found that “being a better person” and “weight loss” is at the top of the list and I’m not surprised. Who doesn’t want to improve relationships and physical health? The same survey found that among those who say they made a resolution for 2017, 68% said they kept at least part of their promise.

I’m a huge believer in the power of goal-setting and thinking ahead to plan for the future, whether it’s in our personal or professional lives. Thinking ahead and considering what employees want are two fundamental steps to improving our workplace. As an HR practitioner, I know that if I’m going to stay ahead of the curve, it requires thorough planning and thinking beyond what’s coming, to what I need to do to prepare.

Here are three big trends I have on my radar in 2018– and more importantly, some ideas for ways savvy HR leaders can think ahead toward mitigating the risks and challenges associated with these trends.

#1: Increased Benchmarking and Industry Peer Sharing

“HR Teams will focus even more on external benchmarking and share to drive their strategy.” HR organizations have increasingly been researching and benchmarking against peers to inform their HR strategic visions and programs. HR leaders will continue to focus on understanding key forces at work and how peers across the industry are tackling them– so we can collectively create effective, culturally-appropriate best practices.

Why does it matter?

With a more tangible toolset complete that builds our understanding how organizations are specifically making changes, applying new strategies and techniques to their companies, HR teams will lessen activity and increase impact. This is important because it helps HR teams complete the translation process between the macro trends and their specific organizational benefit more quickly so they can put these things to work inside their own companies with a higher degree of efficiency and effectiveness.

Try this:

  • Host an executive roundtable on a key topic, invite industry peers from your social networks or through a referral network and engage the group in a focused dialogue.
  • Engage in online sharing forums, such us Linkedin Groups, listen, learn, and engage.
  • Join events hosted by professional HR organizations nationally or in your area (NHRA, SHRM, Silicon Valley HR Network, HRC, MeetUps, etc).
  • Bring the internal external, share white papers, blogs and strategies on your own HR transformation efforts through social channels, offer something to others in the space and cultivate an environment for peer sharing.

#2: Embedding D&I throughout organization-wide practices

This year’s trend will be around embedding D&I into the organizational practices as we move more maturely into the space. Diversity and Inclusion are not new, we have been diligent and focused on D&I as top initiative and key business driver in the past several years. The impact that these efforts have made in elevating awareness and sparking needed dialogue has been tremendous. More advanced organizations will isolate and focus on the inclusion aspect, while organizations who are still building in the D&I space will focus more holistically on diversity and inclusion.

Why does it matter?

The business case for D&I is clear, with numerous studies proving a wide degree of “benefits from innovation, engagement, creativity, and bottom line results.” Integrating D&I into key business practices such as recruiting, workforce planning, talent development programs, leadership competencies, cultural values. D&I is more than just an aspiration, it is an enabler to organizational performance.

Try this:

  • Choose 1-2 key areas that clearly the align with the business strategy to focus on first.

For example, if you have an aggressive growth plan, start with embedding into recruiting practices such as gender-neutral job postings, recruiting efforts, robust candidate slates, interviewing training, consistent scoring rubrics etc. If you are rapidly becoming a more diverse organization, focus on growing the leadership competencies to foster an inclusive environment to sustain your diverse workforce.

#3: Agile Development Coaching at Scale

Modern learning and development strategies have already trended towards being more personalized, bite-sized, and more scalable. In 2018 we will elevate the level of agility and flexibility in the employee performance coaching space and broaden our spectrum on who, how, and when coaching makes sense. We will do this in two ways. First, we will start to solve the question of’ “how to make leaders better coaches” by simply giving them more practice. We will see a shift redesigning HR programs to contain guided moments and intentional experiences that facilitate more natural and ongoing coaching moments to strengthen trust between employees and managers. Secondly, coaching will become more mainstream, we will see highly exclusive coaching models that exist today be disrupted.

Why does it matter?

The positive impact of more accessible and ongoing internal and external coaching including helping employees to navigate issues more quickly and build muscles for solving more directly in the future, giving employees a broader set of perspectives to apply in problem-solving and helping employees develop and pursue meaningful personal and professional goals.

Try this:

  • Pilot an on-demand coaching program leveraging one of the up and coming tech vendors in the on-demand coaching space, or identify an internal team of managers and employees to test out a designed approach.
  • Understand sentiment and utilization to shape the right next step and longer tail approach in your organization.
  • Be clear on signals you expect to see that would demonstrate a higher degree of agility, problem resolution, and any unique signals for your organization.

Anything I missed? What’s on your radar for 2018?