In 2017, the human resources industry has done a lot of soul searching about the way culture and performance issues were handled within companies. In 2018, another big internal shift is coming, but this time the focus is on technology: how it can be used to find people, connect people, engage people, even replace people — and what to do when that happens. For years, technology has acted as a tool to help with day-to-day tasks, but the focus in 2018 will be technology as a way of life in the workplace.

Business trends come and go, but they impact our daily work lives. When it comes to HR management, evolving technology and a shift in workforce needs will continue to shape the trends in 2018.

As HR professionals seek ways to operate more effectively, let’s examine four of the key trends the human capital management experts at Confederation of Indian Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (CIMSME) believe will hit your radar screen as 2018 unfolds.

1. Flexible work schedules on the rise

“Flexible work arrangements” is a term you’ll continue to hear in the year ahead. One reason: Millennials now make up the largest generational share of the workforce, and work-life flexibility is a priority for this demographic.

More than half — 52% — of HR professionals said their companies currently offer flexible work arrangements to at least some employees, according to a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey. Even more interesting, SHRM members reported that retention improved when companies simply announced they were launching flexible work arrangements — that’s how much workers want this. Some experts predict that employers who offer flexible work schedules will see gains in recruitment and morale, as well as a reduction in turnover.

Of course, not all companies are in a position to offer flexible work schedules. But for companies managing aggressive recruiting and retention goals, it’s certainly food for thought.

2. A growing remote workforce

Working virtually — at home, at a coffee shop or anywhere else there’s Wi-Fi — is a growing trend in the United States. In the past two decades, the volume of employees who have worked at least partially by telecommuting has quadrupled and now stands at 37%. A significant driver of this stems from VPN technology making it easy to access work systems from nearly any computer. This makes it possible to recruit from almost anywhere in the world, and it’s no surprise that many startups are built with remote teams. From a corporate perspective, it opens up the pool of candidates, and by offering remote work capabilities, it’s a way to retain current employees and boost job satisfaction through a better work-life balance. With video conferencing and collaboration tools evolving every year, this trend will only continue on the upswing.

3. Social recruiting on the move

Eighty-five percent of companies use social media as a recruiting vehicle. It’s so pervasive, it even has its own name now: social recruiting. While LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook remain the big three, where will it go from here?

In 2018, we will see more companies leverage mobile recruiting platforms. If your company’s hiring platform isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re missing out. In addition, employers may be turning to professional/association social networking sites to recruit this year. It’s a more targeted way to hone in on experienced applicants and reach passive job candidates. Why not give it a try?

4. Using technology for HR program management

We continue to see vast advances in HR technology in every area, from time and attendance systems and benefits administration to recruiting and performance management programs. According to Sierra-Cedar’s 2017-2018 HR Systems Survey, 50% of companies have purchased a cloud-based HR application. The migration to the cloud continues.

In addition, you can expect to hear about:

  • The adoption of continuous performance management systems.
  • Using granular analytics to refine HR processes. From recruiting metrics that allow employers to shorten the hiring process to time and attendance data that pinpoints field management issues, employers will dig in to HR analytics in increasingly meaningful ways.
  • Increased use of mobile time tracking apps. According to the Sierra-Cedar study, there’s been a 50% increase in mobile time tracking over last year.