HR Management & Compliance, Technology

Top Workplace Trends to Be on the Lookout for in 2020

2020 is here, but what will this new decade hold? Over the last few weeks, we’ve been covering the top 2020 HR predictions. Now that 2020 is here, will these predictions pan out? While that remains to be seen, we’re throwing a few more predicted trends onto the fire that has become “the future of work.”trends

Organizations eager to drive their business forward in the new year will zero in on new approaches to enhance the employee and candidate experience and harness more technology adoption, experts say.

“As we head into 2020, leaders across the globe will be unwilling to settle for the status quo—out of excitement, necessity, or both,” says Stacey Engle, President of Fierce Conversations, a training company that teaches you how to have effective conversations that improve business results and build strong cultures.

“Based on what we hear from the clients we work with day in and day out, it is clear that leaders are striving to push the envelope and redefine what it means to provide a better employee experience through all means necessary—especially technology,” Engle adds.

Watch Out for These Trends

Leading through rapid change will be a critical skill to master. The speed of technology advancement has created a marketplace that demands constant workplace evolution in order to succeed. According to the International Data Corporation, organizations will spend $1.7 trillion on digital transformation over the next 2 years. With this rapid growth comes change, and if leaders want their organizations to keep up within their industries, they must fully understand and excel at change management.

In 2020, leaders will focus on training their employees of all levels to embrace the benefits of change and how to properly tackle it using a mix of change management technology, frameworks, and team building. A key aspect of this will be to focus on conversation skills and optimize performance management. In order for change to be successful, it must first and foremost be people-led rather than technology-led.

Company culture will become more meaningful to attract talent. “In a competitive hiring market, a strong company culture is a key factor for drawing top talent,” says Jon Stross, President and Cofounder of Greenhouse, a hiring software platform. “And today’s candidates no longer care about free beer or ‘nap rooms’ in the office—they want to know that a company’s culture puts them first.”

“That means increased transparency from senior leadership, better career advancement opportunities and more meaningful benefits (parental leave options, etc.) are now table stakes for candidates,” he adds. “2020 will see organizations increase their focus on company culture initiatives to offer more significant perks that put the employee first.”

Remote work will no longer be treated as a perk but rather a necessity for employee retention. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, not only has remote working increased by 115% since 2005, with no signs of slowing down, but more than 16% of employees in the entire American workforce now say they work remotely at least part of the time. These rising numbers have turned this perk into a vital benefit for organizations in which remote work is possible, hoping to attract and maintain their top employees.

In 2020, organizations will focus on the full working experience of remote employees. They’ll take steps to ensure these employees truly feel they are an integral part of the company and its culture and that they are not siloed from employees who physically work together. Organizations will focus on events, training, and redefining expectations to ensure these efforts are successful.

Inclusion will be at the forefront of diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts. While efforts to diversify organizations will remain a priority, this alone will no longer be enough to remain competitive in the marketplace. Rather, fostering inclusion will be recognized as a separate initiative from diversifying an organization.

In the new year, creating an inclusive company culture that empowers employees to feel they can show up to work and be themselves will become more vital as the lines between work and life continue to blend together.

Fostering inclusion creates a strong and healthy culture that reduces hostility, not to mention lawsuits. With the 2020 election fast approaching, opinions and tempers will be at an all-time high when it comes to not only the presidential race but also local politics. Organizations will work to ensure every employee—regardless of sex, gender identity, religion, and beliefs—feels welcome and respected during these divisive times.

The candidate experience will become a higher priority. “2020 will see the candidate experience—from application to onboarding—become a bigger focus for HR teams,” says Stross. “Everything from regular touchpoints to better interview prep are major factors in how applicants perceive their candidate journeys.”

“A poor experience can mean the loss of a qualified applicant, bad word-of-mouth for a brand and a general chilling effect on the overall quality of candidates over time,” he adds. “The best companies are getting the experience right, and we expect more companies will embrace that ‘cause and effect’ dynamic in the new year.”

HR execs will embrace data. “HR will become more focused on data, and HR execs will need to be well versed in data analytics,” predicts Stross. “The increasing importance of data in talent acquisition will, in turn, mean that talent teams add people who have expertise in parsing and understanding quantified data and how it applies to hiring.”

“Expect 2020 to bring a shift in the traditional role of the HR exec to embrace data and data science, enabling them to have a stronger voice in shaping strategic decisions that impact people,” he adds.

Predictive analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) will be used to improve HR outcomes. While each employee is critical to an organization, it can be difficult for HR leaders to see the bigger picture and identify trends when focused on individuals. Data and AI that are used to better understand employees and historical precedent will be incredibly powerful tools used by leaders.

In the new year, HR departments will hire more data analysts than ever. These teams will increasingly take advantage of predictive technology to determine key data points such as top talent most at risk of attrition, best-fit application candidates, when to invest in employee career paths, and areas of HR process improvement.

AI will be more prevalent in the hiring process. “Machine learning is helping to make HR tools smarter. Next year, we’ll see the technology become more useful in previously unexpected ways, such as customizing job board options for candidates and streamlining the scheduling of interviews,” predicts Stross.

“We’ll also see AI/machine learning integrated into other aspects of the hiring process. AI can help with mitigation of unconscious bias among hiring managers to increase qualified diversity hires,” he says. “Also important is the candidate experience. AI and machine learning can support HR teams in offering applicants a more informed and personal candidate experience from start to finish.”

Virtual reality (VR) technology will become more prevalent in leadership training programs. Most leadership and development trainings fail because they are unable to tap into emotions and personal experience, which enable employees to successfully absorb what they learn.

VR simulation will start to transform trainings into experiences that can control what an individual sees, hears, and feels throughout his or her learning. This behavior can also be collected for data to maximize the benefits of the training. In 2020, VR will become a greater part of the conversation for organizations to deliver quality, immersive training for their employees.

“The way HR professionals once approached trends in the workplace is no longer cutting it, which organizations are slowly coming to terms with,” says Engle. “It’s an exciting time for company leaders as we move into the new decade, as the opportunities are vast to advance the work we do and the people we do it with in truly transformative ways. It is more important than ever to be focused on the individuals inside of your companies.”

If you thought technology disruption was a thing of the past, we’ve got bad news for you: It’s only just begun. Organizations must embrace technology across all aspects of the company if they want to remain successful in 2020 and beyond.