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HR Trends 2020: Top Insights of what's to come.

HR Trends 2020

HR Trends 2020: It’s that moment of the year where most research institutes, HR Thinkers, consulting companies and HR providers issue their projections of what they see as key trends for the year to come. We’ve already seen a focused post on Employee Experience Trends, as well as a few insights from some of the recent events I attended in Nice and Amsterdam. However, I wanted to collect a few concepts in the multiple articles appearing currently on the web now. 

HR Leadership Trends 2020

What are the Top HR Trends for 2020 for what concerns HR Leadership? Its a critical question, especially if we consider the general outlook, which is not necessarily positive. Collective confidence throughout organisations is low as 2020 approaches. CEO confidence is at its lowest level since 2009. Only 4% believe that economic conditions will improve in the near term; 67% expect conditions to worsen. According to Deloitte, only 26% of surveyed millennial workers expect their economic situation to improve in the coming year. 

Despite the recent initiatives to work on Purposeful Business, only 55% of millennial workers believe that businesses have a positive impact on broader society, confirming a two-year downturn trend. Faith in leaders is also falling: only 22% of surveyed millennial workers say that political leaders are making a positive impact on the world, with business leaders just moderately higher at 37%.

These trends challenge even more the role of HR, and clearly understanding its priorities is critical. Which is probably why Dave Ulrich talks about it in this way: HR is not about HR but about creating value for others. This point is key especially if joined with the fact that HR has more Stakeholders now than in the past. Not just employees anymore, but different types of workers, as well as broader groups that include customers, partners, suppliers. HR has unique contributions to make in this, not just based on the individuals, but also through a renewed focus on Organizational performance. Which is were a new focus on Guidance will be required.

The answer to this cannot come only from Technology. We’ve seen this already, and this is also underlined by David Green who mentions how the Human Factor needs to be put back at the core of the HR work. He points out at the relevant strategic importance of People Analytics, especially related to Network Analysis. in any case, related to proving the value of many of the HR initiatives.

Predictions from Consulting Companies

Gartner has identified 3 top priorities for HR leaders in their annual research:

  • Build critical skills and competencies for the organisation.
  • Strengthen the current and future leadership bench.
  • Implement organisational design and change management.

Interesting to notice how these priorities resemble the fundamentals of doing HR work. Two more preferences link to Driving Digital Business Transformation and Employee Experience.

Interesting not notice how Strategic Thinking in HR is being considered a critical success factor in the future. I believe this to be an essential skill for the future of management as a whole, but I agree on its importance for HR, especially as it grounds its basis on Organisation Design and Change

The other key element is for sure, the renewed focus on Culture, with a new idea about Creating Spaces to Develop Culture. It’s the best way that HR can best work on the new focus on Purpose. This is also underlined by the article published by CultureAmp, focused on this renewed mission-driven effort. 

Deloitte has come out with a few predictions ahead of its yearly Human Capital survey results. In a time of increasing turbulence, HR leaders will need:

  • Clarity of purpose for their organisation and meaning for their workforce
  • Focus on where and how to spend time and resources on what matters most
  • Action, taken with precision and courage, driven by confidence in their ability to create value and a willingness to leave behind tired perspectives and old ways of working

In this scenario, a few trends are vital in understanding the shaping of the future of HR. Organisational Metrics that evaluate how organisations balance profit with purpose will gain a lot more influence. Nurturing capabilities will be as crucial as building skills especially if linked to alternative workforce concepts which will be the next frontier in the war for talent especially as Workforce will be re-shaped by using Virtual Work and internal marketplaces to unleash talent. 

PWC has also issued a review of its key trends for the year and has identified seven priorities. 

Fig.1: Fit for the Future, Key Trends in HR. Source: PWC
Fig.1: Fit for the Future, Key Trends in HR. Source: PWC

I think the most exciting piece is what reads as Create digital Talent Exchanges, which identifies as a way to promote a better match between talent ‘buyers’ and ‘sellers’. We had already discussed this trend when we spoke about the new types of work that are shaping the future of work.

The Skills Gap is widening according to Cornerstone Future Trends Outlook, which looks at reskilling and recruiting transformation as two focused actions to prevent irrelevance. 

Gurprriet Siingh focuses on a few priorities shared by many. Still, he adds a lens that is aimed explicitly at Reskilling, both for the general population of an enterprise, but also specifically for HR. Especially on Digital SkillsPeridus Group focuses as well on the reinvention of the role of HR. 

New Organisational models will continue to be a hot topic from my point of view. The focus on Adaptive Systems is staying, and the impact on technology will continue to redefine the role of managers. 

Future of Work Trends

As we discuss the HR Trends for 2020, we can’t avoid looking at some of the key trends discussed the Future of WorkHC Magazine looks at a few of these, with Employee Wellbeing not a Nice To Have anymore. Other focus areas are flexibility demanded from workers, and more use of flexible workspaces, sometimes defined as Smart Working, characterised by a new Psychological Contract

Agile is continuing to become a key trend word. AON adds the concept of Resilience as an additional trait for the workforce of the future, capable of coping with an increased rate of transformation (something we have seen as well).

Intergenerational conflict is also seen as an emerging trend: we are witnessing not least than five generations at work, although we know that stereotyping will not help, thinking in terms of this diversity element is critical. 

I genuinely think that Mental Health Awareness is becoming more and more a key focus area for the future of the workplace, as we go beyond traditional definitions of well-being. 

All confirms my point of view on the Skills to Build for the Future of Work

Focus on HR Technologies

Usage of Technology on HR will continue to grow. In multiple ways, this trend is driven still by many investments in the market, and it is sometimes difficult to distinguish the “push” from the actual demands. Within this, a key trend is a focus on Digital Ethics, as underlined by Sage. If a job is automated, how do we manage the workers impacted? And how about the users, whose data is at the core of analytics efforts. 

Sympa has published an interesting article with lots of references (also available as an ebook). Technology plays a vital role, with RPA (Robotic Process Automation), AI and Virtual Reality seen as essential elements for the Future of Work. Organisations will use AI and behavioural nudges to reduce bias across the workplace, a quest that will strengthen even more the research around AI

In this scenario, a big bet is placed on People Analytics capable of exploiting the new focus on technology, raising the bar in terms of predictability. In this world, organisational network analysis will expand from examining current networks to architecting new ones, one of the areas where HR analytics will pay more success. 

Learning & Development seems to be an area profoundly touched in the HR Trends 2020 discussions. We see a transformation towards more self-management and interactivity particularly. Reskilling, as we have seen, shapes an integral part of the strategy, an element that is also captured by Udemy’s data

Fig.2: Reskilling Priorities. Source: Udemy.
Fig.2: Reskilling Priorities. Source: Udemy.

Craig Weiss thinks that 2020 will be the “Year of the Hub“, where every piece of the HR technology ecosystem (and beyond) connects to the Learning Management System. 

Empxtrack does the same, with a critical focus on Continuous Performance Managementenabled by technology. Also, Astron Solutions looks at Continuous Feedback as a trend for 2020. Continuous Listening is becoming a Trend even for David Green and for AIHR

Seems that also Recruiting will be impacted. AI and Automation on one side, and Voice Activated Services on the other at least according to Cornerstone. This technology uses personalisation to make candidates feel valued by the companies they apply to with yet again another focus on a positive experience. This also through non-conventional hiring processes according to some.

Conclusions: HR Trends for 2020

I think that considering all the various readings mentioned, the year 2020 will be a consolidation year for HR. 

The primary influence is coming from the newly addressed focus on company purpose. This means demanding an HR that can genuinely design new organisations, as well as be intentional in the design of successfully creative cultures. This is integrated by a continued Employee Experience focus, which will continue to mature.

The focus on Technology is continuing to be healthy, but what is luckily changing is the approach to technology. Thanks to more user-centric design, technology is more looked at an enabler rather than a solution for everything. Also, tools like Analytics are developing in this direction, especially with a renewed focus on bias avoidance and inclusion and diversity. 

Do you see any other trend missed?

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Cover Photo by Elena Koycheva on Unsplash

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