2016 is just around the corner, believe it or not, so what can the HR world anticipate as we enter the latter half of the second decade of the 21st century. Here are some key events to be prepared for:
A referendum on Britain’s continued membership of the EU
The long promised EU referendum has to happen before the end of 2017, but many heavy hints have been dropped by David Cameron that the vote will be held in the summer of 2016, especially if his renegotiation plan can be brought to a speedy, successful, conclusion. The battle over ‘Brexit’ will be a bitter fight and no doubt bloody as hell and the repercussions of a vote to leave would be wide ranging. ‘Brexit’ would almost certainly equal less skilled immigration into the UK and will have the potential to slow British productivity even further, there would also be an impact on trade, although the extent of that impact is hotly debated. No matter what the pros and cons of heading for the exit, the prospect of a referendum is likely to spook the market and could prompt outright panic if the ejection button is pressed.
The introduction of the National Living Wage
The introduction of the compulsory National Living Wage comes will take place on the 1st of April 2016 and will be set at £7.20 for all workers over the age of 25. The new wage level will push up salary levels at more than half of workplaces in the UK. Many businesses will need to prepare for this by improving productivity levels.
The continuing skills gap crisis
The skills gap in the UK is going to be a major issue in 2016. Small to medium sized employers are going to continue to struggle to find staff and the shortage of skilled workers may start to slug the economic recovery in the guts. Businesses need to be prepared for potentially slower project delivery times and firms may have to act to furnish existing staff with new skills. Companies are also going to have to devote more time to the hunt for talent and become more proactive in the way that they advertise available jobs. Social media is going to have to be embraced by recruiters in 2016 as the traditional advert is becoming a thing of the past.
The introduction of shared parental leave
As of 2016 new parents will be able to share maternity pay and paternity pay with working grandparents. The government still needs to reveal the details behind how the policy will work, however HR departments are starting to review the current take-up of shared parental leave and assess the effectiveness of their current polices and how they will need to be adapted. As grandparents could well have a large number of grandchildren, business need to be prepared for more people being away from the office for longer periods of time.
The US presidential election
Americans will go to the polls in 2016 to pick a replacement for President Barack Obama. On the Democratic side, baring a major upset, Hillary Clinton is almost certain to be the nominee, while the race for the Republican nomination is wide open. If the Democrats retain the White House expect movement on national minimum wage rises, national sick pay, as well as maternity and paternity pay. If the Republicans win, expect non of the above, especially if the party opts for a more controversial option, such as Donald Trump. Although, if the general election in November comes down to Clinton v Trump…expect common sense to prevail.
The rise or fall of ‘working from home’
‘Working from home’ and ‘agile working’ has been very much in vogue in 2015, but with productivity sliding and employers looking to make the most of the economic recovery, one wonders if the ‘working from home’ bubble might be about to burst and the traditional 9-5 make a resurgence. Report back this time next year to see how that prediction fares.