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The beginning of the year is always an ideal time to look back on the past 12 months, evaluate what worked, what didn't and think about what you want to do differently moving forward.

When it comes to preparing your workforce for the future, there are plenty of resolutions to focus on depending on your organization's goals. Whether you're looking to make a change in strategy, explore a new technology trend or prioritize professional development opportunities, setting and thinking through goals is helpful to set mindful direction for the year. We spoke with nine professionals to learn what they are looking to do differently in 2017.

Focus on Career Engagement

Employee engagement can lead to increased productivity, reduced turnover, and improved work quality, yet more than 65 percent of U.S. employees are not engaged, according to Gallup research.

“This year, I'm focusing on replacing employee engagement with 'career engagement,'" says Rick Devine, CEO of TalentSky. “When asked, employees really want more help from their employer in the area of career progression and engagement. They want to know how what they are doing right now is helping move their career forward. Companies need to be completely open and detailed about the skills needed for available positions, so people know what they need to achieve, or what skills they need to gain to land the role they want."

Reevaluate Hiring Strategies

As the contingent workforce grows, it's now much more common for companies to utilize contractors, consultants and temporary hires. This approach to hiring can help lower costs, and allows for greater flexibility as organizations can align hiring to specific business or project needs.

“My HR resolution is to start looking at outsourcing and freelance options more, and stop with all the expensive internal hires and constant revolving door of talent," shares Rodger Roeser, CEO of The Eisen Agency.

Differentiate Benefits Options

As an HR leader, one of your fixed goals is undoubtedly attracting and retaining top talent. Unique benefits are a way to add value and create a more competitive offering.

“We're looking to create several flexible, personalized work perks that employees can choose from as part of their benefits package," explains Sacha Ferrandi, founder and director of HR at Source Capital Funding, Inc. “Types of perks can include gym memberships, time off to volunteer and flexible work from home time. Employees at each level can have the same monetary value package, but can pick and choose which perks they want to create an individualized setup for each employee."

Increase Autonomy

Roles at your company inevitably change and evolve overtime, but does business administration keep up with these developments? Eugene Gamble, business coach and manager at Rosedale Health Centre, has asked his staff to break down each task they currently undertake step-by-step.

“This will serve three goals," he explains. “One, we can see if there are any inconsistencies between staff on how they process tasks and hopefully arrive at a streamlined consensus. Two, job descriptions can be updated and three, we can collate answers into a 'training manual' so that any staff turnover will have a minimal impact as new hires will know exactly what to do, which will accelerate the training process."

Change Your Perspective

Finding the right candidate for a role often involves a game of weighing listed skills, previous titles and on-the-job experience. Encouraging your hiring team to look beyond the resume and dig down to specific aptitudes and talents can be a helpful change of perspective.

“In 2017, I'm looking to pay less attention to job titles and more to skills involved in the role," says Sam Williamson, an HR manager for Ace Work Gear. “I'd like to focus more on experience rather than on qualifications."

Rethink the Recruiting Mindset

Existing employees can be great assets when it comes to hiring. Successful employee referrals can lead to a lower cost per hire, faster time to hire and a higher retention rate.

“My New Years resolution for HR is to get the whole company thinking like recruiters. By that, I mean actually getting John in accounting networking to help source new hires," says Steve Benson, Founder and CEO of Badger Maps. “Rather than asking employees to simply ask around and see if someone they know is looking for a job, I want to encourage employees to sit down with their friends, talk about our company, and see which friends of friends come highly recommended."

Prioritize Health

Workplace wellness programs can differentiate your company and lead to other benefits such as increased morale, better work-life balance and reduction in sick pay costs.

“As a company, we've promised to create a more health-conscious environment and culture in the New Year," shares the Freight Center HR team — Vanessa Herrera, Alli Downs and Alyssa Patenaude. “We also plan to hire 60 new employees by the end of January. That's huge news for us, considering we currently employ 110 people."

Photo: Creative Commons