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5 Workplace Trends to Watch in 2020

Mike Hicks

November 12, 2019 · 4 min read
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We recently partnered with workplace consultant and futurist, Alexandra Levitt, to look at 5 top trends that will impact HR teams in 2020. As technology marches forward at a dizzying speed, innovations will extend the boundary of what’s possible and alter expectations for both organizations and their employees.

Here are a few statistics driving change for HR professionals:

  • The voluntary quit rate (when people leave jobs by choice) – has reached a 17-year high. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, this will lead to a labor shortage in 2020.
  • Diversity and inclusion are no longer just “nice to have.” Deloitte found that inclusive companies have a 2.3x higher cash flow per employee than ones who are not inclusive.
  • In 2020, companies in Europe and North America will need 16-18 million more educated employees than are available, according to McKinsey.
  • 72% of HR leaders think adopting AI is important for their business, but only 31% feel ready to address it, according to Deloitte.

Knowing this, HR leaders must consider the impact new technology has on their workforce and be willing to adjust their strategy to take advantage of it. Levitt outlines some of the most critical issues at play and how to stay ahead of the trends.

1. Human/machine hybrid teams

Human/machine hybrid isn’t as sci-fi as it sounds.

What it really means is that the partnership between human workers and artificial intelligence (AI) will undoubtedly increase over the next decade.

Of course, while this will have a profound impact on the workforce, it’s not in the way so many people think – human jobs aren’t necessarily going away.

With every new machine or technology brought into the workplace, you need people to develop it, manage it, fix it, explain how it works, and translate its outputs into meaningful business results.

Technology doesn’t just speed up processes. It can help you nurture, retain, and engage top talent. Read: 5 Ways Technology Can Solve Human Resources Challenges

2. Embedded HR

Instead of a centralized team called on primarily to resolve employee conflict, more and more organizations are embedding their HR people inside the business functions they support.

This gives them a better understanding of the organization’s health, shifts in culture, and can be far more strategic and proactive in addressing challenges. It also allows them to be better aligned with the organization’s goals.

3. Continuous learning and development

Upskilling and reskilling are increasingly important strategies in today’s workforce. As the work environment continues to adapt and develop, so must our employees.

Upskilling is having the same job, but being able to do it better using new tools and updated processes.

Reskilling is what happens when a job is eliminated and an employee needs to develop new skills for a different role (rather than hiring externally).

An attitude toward continuous learning and development should start during the recruitment process and last throughout the entire employee cycle.

This is how we create learning agility, the mindset that an employee doesn’t know everything they need to know about how to best do their job now and certainly in the future. If they understand that automation will affect most occupations in some way, then they can look at how they further develop their human skills to ensure they can continue to add value to the organization.

Talent activation is another way organizations can promote continuous development. Talent activation refers to creating specific experiences throughout the employee’s tenure that motivate them to learn and do their best work. One way to do this is by providing professional development opportunities through a partnership with a local school.

4. High-touch employee experience

Today (and in the future), recruiters must work hard to convince top talent to invest in their organization.

This means having a consistent, reputable, transparent and compelling employer brand, and showcasing that brand through an intentional and respectful hiring process.

From day one, you want employees to feel good about their decision and prepared to start contributing right away.

An effective onboarding program can keep employees around longer. Learn more.

As the hiring process becomes more automated, the necessity of a “human touch” increases. It can be as simple as having face-to-face conversations with new hires at specific intervals to gauge their onboarding experience.

In these situations, just because something can be automated doesn’t mean it should be.

5. Role customization

In the future world of work, there’s no such thing as a linear career path anymore.

HR teams are having to adapt to a workforce that is increasingly focused on cross-functional skill development, ongoing learning, lifestyle accommodations like flexible work hours, and a significant rise in the contract workforce.

We’re also seeing more swarm teams (also referred to as talent assembly) and tours of duty as people are brought together temporarily to solve specific business problems or issues.

With different career paths for all employees, employers need to be able to look at individuals as individuals and apply specific measures to attract and retain top talent.

What will your workplace look like in 2020?

We’re 20 years into the 21st century, and the speed at which work is evolving can seem unmanageable for many organizations. But with a proactive approach and all the possibilities technology brings, you can make sure you’re ready for what lies ahead.

Watch the full webinar to get additional insights and specific examples from Alexandra on how the digital workplace trends will impact the role of HR in 2020.  And learn how to adapt your strategies to ensure you’re keeping pace.