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At the end of every year, it's tempting to look back and reflect on how much an industry has changed over the past twelve months. And while it's true that technological innovations and new work trends may have bettered the world of human resources throughout 2018 in many ways, what has been most compelling about this year is that it has lifted the veil on some of the challenges that continue to plague our industry.

From the rise of the #metoo movement and its role in helping to close the gender pay gap, to the controversy Starbucks faced when its corporate policies failed to prevent racial discrimination against some customers, 2018 has revealed the areas we need to work on in 2019 and beyond.

As the new year begins, let's look back at some of ReWork's biggest stories of 2018 and resolve to all be better leaders and learners in the year to come.

1) To Minimize Sexism at Work, AI Must Learn to Stop It

Sexism in the workplace has been an important topic this past year. Headlines about the lack of female representation at tech companiesand the gender wage gap have dominated the national news. Nevertheless, companies are working to address these pervasive issues with a little help from technology, wrote Kristina Finseth, director of marketing at WonderBotz. As artificial intelligence continues to play a larger role in talent acquisition, it has the potential to minimize gender bias in recruiting.

2) Making the Unconscious Conscious: How Education Can Help Close the Gender Pay Gap For Good

"When we talk about the gender pay gap, we tend to focus on why this is a company's issue or a man's issue, but as females we need to feel empowered to take the issue into our own hands," wrote Kimberly Cassady, VP of Talent at Cornerstone.

"Empowerment comes in the form of education and self-awareness. Learning and development are tantamount to career growth and employee retention, but they are important parts of the solution in lessening the gender pay gap and getting us closer to sustainable equality," she explained.

3) 3 Ways to Avoid the Pitfalls of AI Recruitment Tools

Artificial intelligence (AI) has taken employers' ability to identify potential hires to a more robust level than traditional applicant tracking software (ATS) that simply parses candidates' resumes for keywords. But despite its potential, there are pitfalls that come with using AI for recruiting. Did you know, for example, that AI can become biased, just like a human, if it isn't properly trained?

4) Why Starbucks' Unconscious Bias Training Probably Won't Change Much

Starbucks made a splash earlier this year by closing 8,000 stores to provide unconscious bias training for over 100,000 employees. The company decided on this widespread training after an employee stopped two black men from using their onsite restroom in a Philadelphia store.

"As a former Chief Learning Officer at multiple organizations, I don't think this training will change much," wrote Carol Anderson, founder of Anderson Performance Partners. To drive real change, organizations need leaders who understand their role in shaping behaviors, and it's up to these leaders to teach employees how to best represent the image of the organization in their work.

5) The New Skills Economy Needs a New, Skills-Based Resume

An emerging set of digital tools are entering the workforce today—replacing jobs, but also creating them. This workforce shift poses a challenge to talent acquisition professionals who need to hire newly-skilled employees (and, in some cases, hire for entirely new positions).

Fortunately, the same digital tools about to change jobs also promise to make filling them easier by transforming a traditional hiring vehicle: the resume. The resume of the future will be truly digital—leveraging everything from artificial intelligence to machine learning—so hiring managers can identify, vet and hire top candidates easily and effectively.

6) 5 Ways to Empower Employees With Future Skills

With the onset of artificial intelligence and automation, the demand for a highly-skilled workforce dedicated to continuous learning is growing. Though these tech tools have vast capabilities, employees need specific skills in order to engage with this emerging technology effectively.

That's why earlier this year, in partnership with Cornerstone OnDemand, the Institute for the Future unveiled a Future Skills Map highlighting the capabilities that modern workers will need to thrive in an ever-changing, fast-paced, tech-focused work environment.

7) Why Millennials Quit (And How to Keep Them Around)

Here's a surprising statistic: almost half of millennials (44 percent) believe that working for a single company is a better way to advance their career than jumping from firm to firm. So how did the stereotype of millennials as entitled job-hoppers come to be? Whitney Johnson, author and host of the Disrupt Yourself podcast, explains, and shares tips for retaining them.

8) Why You Shouldn't Overlook Candidates With an Alternative Education

More students are pursuing higher education than ever before—but at a higher cost. The result? The national student debt burden is approaching $1.5 trillion, and in 2016 the average college student graduated with over $37,000 in student loans.

For many potential college students who are now the future of our workforce, this process has become untenable. To find jobs, they need skills, but at what cost? It's time for organizations to recruit talent with non-traditional educational backgrounds.

9)Why Employment Probation Periods Are Ineffective

"The concept of the employment probation period is a corporate carry-over from days long gone, but it's time to shut it down," wrote Ira Wolfe, president of Success Performance Solutions. If you're using a probation period as a crutch that supports poor hiring decisions, fix your screening process and help managers boost their candidate vetting skills, he recommended.

10) The Future of Work and How to Improve Job Satisfaction

We spend an average of 90,000 hours of our lives at work. But according to psychologist, bestselling author and host of the WorkLife podcast Adam Grant, too many of those hours are unhappy ones.

From managers who don't provide feedback in a productive way to the growing fears around robots taking our jobs, there are many reasons why we find ourselves feeling frustrated at work. But it doesn't have to be this way, Grant said.

Header Photo: Creative Commons