As 2019 comes to an end, it’s time to look to the future. What does 2020 have in store for HR professionals and employers across the nation?
Experts from various companies of all sizes weigh in on what they think 2020 and beyond will have in store for HR professionals. Will these predictions come true? How will HR handle the problems that arise and holdover issues from the year before? These experts also offer a few tips and strategies to help you remain successful in the years ahead.
Future Generations of Workers Are Finally Here, and They Need Technology
Millennials were the trendy generation of the new millennium, but with the start of a new decade comes a new generation. That’s right: We’re talking about Generation Zs, those born after 1997.
We connected with Terry Simpson, Technical Evangelist at Nintex, a process management and workflow automation platform, to learn more about how Gen Z will make an impact on the workplace in 2020.
Gen Z is notoriously known as the generation that was born with technology at its fingertips. So how will Gen Z drive tech adoption in the next year and into the next decade? “Gen Z has a unique technology perspective. From the day they were born, Gen Zs have had technology baked into every element of their environment,” Simpson says. “This has both positive and negative effects.”
“One of the positives is Gen Z’s openness to new technology, often helping drive its adoption. This will be true over the next decade as process automation grows and matures—Gen Z will be a huge influence on how automation technologies are adopted,” he adds.
Automation has been a major trend in recent years, and having Gen Z at the helm of implementing such tools will help employers achieve success throughout the decade. Given that automation and productivity go hand in hand, how will Gen Z promote productivity in the workplace? Will Gen Z workers be different from their Millennial counterparts when it comes to the technology they use to make work more productive?
“Gen Z thinks about productivity technologies very differently than older generations, especially Millennials. Millennials, as they entered the workforce, gravitated heavily to social media and other digital platforms to boost productivity,” he says.
Simpson adds, “Gen Z employees are thinking more holistically and looking to take a smarter, more moderate path—less inclined to jump on the latest fads and more willing to mix and match and pull together their own tools, solutions, and environments.”
If Gen Z is looking to take a more holistic approach to using productivity tools, what happens to the legacy systems companies have been using for decades? Is it time to go “out with the old and in with the new”? And will Gen Z be the driver of this change?
“Legacy systems continue to surprise; they just seem to live forever,” says Simpson. “New capabilities are becoming available—things like RPA, digital forms, and workflows—that extend the life of these older systems by adding friendlier front ends that are much easier to work with.”
“Ultimately, as Gen Z employees move up the ranks, they may accelerate the retirement of legacy systems,” suggests Simpson. “But today, Gen Z’s ‘digital native’ experience is helping drive adoption of easier-to-use technologies that don’t require ripping out the old systems.”
This news may be refreshing to hear for companies with tight purse strings, but don’t count your blessings just yet. Gen Z may have the capacity to juggle all types of technology, but don’t forget about your other workers.
EX Will Become Even More Important
In a candidate-driven market, talent retention is vital for success, and this trend will continue on in 2020. In order to retain your workers, you must focus on giving them a favorable employee experience (EX)—that is, how your employees perceive your company, what it’s like to work for your company, etc.
Would employees recommend your company to their friends and family? If you’re giving them a great working environment, then the answer is yes. But if employees hate coming to work or think you’re taking advantage of them, they may be inclined to tell their friends and family to go to your competition.
Henry Albrecht, CEO of Limeade, an EX company, shares his insight into the world of EX through 2020 and beyond. “Companies that authentically care for their people will thrive and gain long-term success. Our research shows that employees who feel cared for are 10 times more likely to recommend their company, 9 times more likely to stay 3 years or more at their company, and 4 times less likely to burn out,” says Albrecht.
“Are you listening to your employees? Do they feel they can bring their real, authentic selves to work? Do they feel supported?” he asks. “These are the questions leaders should be asking themselves and their employees in order to build a truly impactful culture.”
“When employees feel supported and encouraged to prioritize their well-being and when they trust their managers—these are symptoms of flourishing and healthy workplace cultures,” Albrecht adds. You may be scratching your heads trying to figure out how you can improve the EX at your workplace. Fortunately, Albrecht provides some suggestions and highlights the fact that technology may not be able to solve your problems in this area like it can solve problems in other areas.
“Technology is necessary—for scale, reach, and big-data insights—but it is never sufficient on its own,” says Albrecht. “No technology platform will ever replace human connection. Limeade Institute research shows that when it comes to feeling cared for at work, managers and leaders are the most important factors.”
“Teams, peers, and social networks also matter,” he adds. “Winning companies will continue to invest in hiring top talent, leader and manager development, and curating the type of values-based culture where friendship (and occasional failures) is OK. Technology must amplify the humanity of a company.”
A great company culture obviously has many benefits, but in 2020, the wellness of your workforce must be equally as important. “Is there ever a time when emotional well-being doesn’t matter? Are anxiety, depression, addiction, and suffering OK because the stock market is down?” asks Albrecht.
“The human need for well-being, engagement, and inclusion will always remain constant,” he adds. “Take, for example, when companies need to match costs to revenues and revenues take a hit from market forces; jobs often get cut.”
“The mission-critical employees left behind need care more than ever—their friends and colleagues just got let go. They are working longer hours, maybe for less pay,” Albrecht says. “These employees, if they feel cared for, will be more likely to stick it out through tough times than employees who feel they have a transactional relationship with their employers.
“And when the job market is hot again, they will have important decisions to make—influenced by how they felt they were treated in hard times,” suggests Albrecht. As recession fears continue to grow, employers must keep this thought in the back of their minds at all times. Creating a great EX at every stage of the employee life cycle will be a “make it or break it” for your company throughout the next decade.
Albrecht provides this parting thought: “If there are low-cost, high-tech, high-impact, and amplified statements of real care that companies can make, they will make them. Companies that ignore their most essential asset—people—will do so at their peril.”
It remains to be seen what 2020 will have in store for employers across the nation, but if you start adopting strategies that cater to your workforce and offer opportunities to keep your workers happy and healthy, you’ll stand out as an employer of choice and continue to remain successful in the new year.