HR professionals across Europe and North America were asked to share HR trends they expect to see in 2018. Below are the five most common responses, and how they’re preparing for change.

1. Using recognition systems to retain talent

According to a Gallup survey, over half (51%) of U.S. workers are open to leaving their current job. To retain top talent, many industries are using recognition to keep people motivated and committed to an organization.

Not only are recognition rewards becoming more popular, more valuable talent may receive higher rewards. “Historically, the vast majority of rewards issued through our system have been $100 – $300 experience gifts. In 2017, we saw a massive spike in the number of rewards exceeding $1000. We expect this will continue to strengthen in 2018,” says Max Joles of Wishlist Rewards.

The goal isn’t how much you reward, it’s to recognize people regularly—not just at a 5-year anniversary party. “Recognition can be done one-on-one, as a team, or as an organization strategy. The bottom line is focusing on acknowledging great work in the moment. Do it in customized ways that meet the preferences of individuals and the team,” says Sarah McVanel, chief recognition officer of Greatness Magnified.

2. Flexible work arrangements are bending further

In 2018, online collaboration tools and other technologies will continue shifting companies away from a traditional work model and a traditional work day. As companies move towards a results-based culture, they’re wondering: does it really matter where a person works, or when they log in, so long as the work gets done on time?

More often, the answer is “no,” which supports a growing practice towards ditching the 9-to-5 workday.

Along with changing where and when people work, companies are also changing how work gets done. Of the companies surveyed in the latest Future Workforce Report, 48% reported they use flexible workers.

As it becomes increasingly difficult to find the right talent, job roles may need to flex too. Jessica Tower, president of Tower and Company, says, “Companies will need to do a better job of thoroughly understanding the role, separating the ‘need to have’ skills from the ‘nice to have’ skills in order to put together a winning engagement strategy.”

Tower suggests getting creative. If it’s hard to find talent with a specific technical background and leadership experience, perhaps split the job into two roles. Or if you have a person with the right technical background who lacks leadership skills, consider providing them coaching or other support.

3. Pay increases as the talent pool shrinks

If you haven’t done so, it’s time to adjust your pay packages to reflect market realities. This is especially urgent for in-demand talent.

But remaining competitive in 2018 takes more than increasing wages. To meet the growing desire for greater work/life balance, companies are offering non-traditional benefits too. Popular benefits include health wellness perks, financial wellness benefits, and a more generous maternity and paternity leave.

As more companies utilize freelance experts, freelancers are also charging more as there is more demand for their skills. Upwork, the world’s largest freelancing website, noted that for 75 skills, hourly rates jumped 25% over the last 12 months.

4. More HR analytics and automation

Data is moving beyond metrics to providing strategy through people analytics. Analytics enables HR to utilize data in ways that move the business forward. Insights gained from analytics can help identify flight risk and why people may leave, and pinpoint the root cause of bottlenecks.

When Salesforce had trouble filling top developer jobs, their talent acquisition team turned to data. The team identified several markets throughout North America with a nearly untapped resource of talented developers. Not only were these rich resources, but Salesforce could also hire the talent at competitive rates.

Big data and people analytics can help solve business challenges with more efficiency and accuracy. Companies who don’t have an HR data analytics strategy in place for 2018 may fall behind.

It’s expected HR will also use more technology to automate processes. “I believe HR tech is meant to put the human BACK into human resources—not take it away. Tech automates processes to free up more time for HR professionals,” says Andre Lavoie, CEO of ClearCompany.

However, Lavoie sees a darker side of increased automation too. Some companies rely too much on HR tech, which leads to downsizing of their HR teams. Smaller teams are a current trend that will continue to worry HR teams in 2018.

5. Greater focus on accountability

Response to the #MeToo movement shows employees will no longer remain silent about harassment in the workplace. “Both customers and employees are quicker than ever to turn on companies for unethical behavior. They are going to want to see and feel that their employer, or potential employer, is taking steps to have an upstanding company culture and not compromise its values,” says Mollie Delp, HR specialist of Workshop Digital.

Theresa Rusnak, an associate at Bond, Schoeneck & King suggests companies take both a proactive and reactive approach toward eliminating sexual harassment at work.

Instead of taking a one-size-fits-all policy approach, Rusnak says companies can revise sexual harassment policies to include examples specific to their industry or company. Rusnak offers other examples including, “Conduct extensive background checks before hiring executives. And before hiring executives, employers should ensure that their employment contracts have clearly-defined indemnification provisions to protect the company in the case of future harassment claims.”

Charlie Gray, president of Gray Scalable, sums it up saying, “It’s hard to predict what the coming year will include given the fast pace of change in just a few months. But it’s clear that HR professionals will have even more value in helping their companies navigate these charges fairly and intelligently and create policies, training and environments that encourage better behavior.”

Finding Balance in 2018

The 2018 trends indicate that HR must find balance between seemingly opposing demands. Such as helping companies get work done, while providing employees more freedom. At the core of it all, HR’s goals remain the same. That is, to provide a safe and supportive environment that encourages people to deliver their best work, and enjoy doing it every day.