Five trends in HR to be aware of

If 2019 was all about focusing on the customer, then 2020 will be about paying attention to the needs of employees, says Geoffroy de Lestrange.

No doubt this time last year many organisations took the time to sit back and look ahead at what was likely in store for 2019. It was no easy ride, there were many twists and turns and the pace of digital change continually rapidly accelerating. Whether it was predicted or not, the clear business message of 2019 was the importance of people – that’s what keeps businesses running – and as we hit 2020 this is not going to change. So, what are the HR trends in 2020?

HR is going to play an increasingly large and integrated role in all businesses.

To help plan and prepare for the year ahead, here are five key HR trends in 2020 to set you on the right course.

>See also: Artificial Intelligence in HR – the future is now

#1 – The certainty of uncertainty

It is set to be a tumultuous and unpredictable year and while organisations cannot control any wider outcomes, businesses can help manage the impact of these on their customers and employees. This is why the big focus for HR this year will be around creating transparency.

The best way to reassure and support employees will be through open and honest conversations – making sure to be clear and properly communicate what your business is doing, any changes being implemented, new measures being taken and most importantly, explaining why. But beyond company changes and policies, this must filter down into the very technology that businesses will be implementing to help HR and the wider company to achieve this more open culture. For example, more tools to open communication channels for employees to voice concerns.

#2 – It’s the employees’ turn

For many businesses, whether selling to consumers or other businesses, 2019 was also all about being more customer-centric, putting customers first and aligning to their needs rather than those of the business, but moving into 2020, this will take another turn. Employees are the heart of an organisation and will move up the priority list. In the same way that customer experience can be what will win over that new prospect or keep customers coming back for more, this year, businesses will be looking at applying the same principles and level of importance to employee experience.

In the same way that your business hopes to effortlessly guide a customer through their buying journey, businesses must look at how you can help create more agile and seamless work environments and workflows. But this is a big shift and will not completely change overnight. It will be about starting small, with different departments outside HR seeing how their approaches and tools could be applied to employees – could that new customer service portal, for example, work internally? Here, it will be particularly important for HR, sales and marketing to better work together and collaborate. Not to mention, this could also bring up new ideas to help customers too.

>See also: 5 easy tech wins to improve SME productivity

#3 – The battle for skills

Employee experience alone will not be enough for organisations fighting for the top talent. The skills shortage is only going to intensify across all industries and businesses wishing to survive and thrive will need to make changes. As businesses are being rapidly disrupted, it is hard to keep up with the emerging new skills and competencies and relying on externally sourcing the necessary new talent is not a feasible solution. More so than ever before, businesses will need to be looking inwardly at making the most of current employees and helping them to embrace all possibilities and fulfil their potential.

This means more than upskilling, but rather doing away with rigid learning and development structures and embracing new mindsets and approaches towards employee growth. You will need to actively enable employees to develop in all the directions that best work for them – and ultimately the business – whether this be upwards, sideways or maybe even a career pivot.

#4 – Finding purpose

Investing so much in the growth and development of your employees, you will also want to make sure that you hold onto them in the long run. While career paths and learning possibilities are a key factor, for the new generations now entering the workplace and making up more of the workforce, they also need to know how this development corresponds and feeds back to the overall business. Everyone wants to feel like they’re making a contribution.

In 2019 we saw the launch of the “OK boomer” social movement and Greta Thunberg was The Times’ Person of the Year. These are clear signals that the “old ways” will no longer be tolerated. This will all have a big impact on the coming year, creating a snowball effect on what employees now expect from their employers – namely, accountability and meaning. The status and prestige of working at world-renowned brands and global corporations is starting to lose its sheen, with favour shifting to those organisations that can give their employees a real sense of purpose and the belief that you as an individual employee are making a difference, however small that may be.

And this goes beyond employees’ positive perception of a business, it will also impact your customers, stakeholders and general public’s opinion of your organisation too. Those businesses that can demonstrate purpose in 2020 will be winning out not just on talent, but potentially also bettering their competition.

#5 – Finally getting clued up on mental health

Delving deeper than showing responsibility, businesses will be needing to demonstrate that they truly care about employees’ wellbeing. The likes of World Mental Health Day have been around for years now and in 2020, failures to look after all aspects of employees’ health will no longer be excused or accepted.

The importance of safeguarding mental health will be more widely and formally recognised with the introduction of new measure and approaches. Most important of these will be ensuring that managers have the appropriate training to help people speak openly about mental health, recognise when people may be suffering with mental health and how to best support them and also the right procedures to follow when other people or professionals need to become involved. In line with this, more businesses will be looking to offer better support, internal services and creating new policies like mental health sick days.

Putting employees first

Whatever may happen, it will be a year of businesses putting their people first and HR is at the heart of this movement –helping ensure that your organisation can keep up, developing and growing and ultimately, having a successful year.

Geoffroy de Lestrange is product marketing and communication director EMEA of Cornerstone OnDemand

Further reading

7 ways SMBs benefit from using HR software


Geoffroy de Lestrange

Geoffroy de Lestrange is product marketing and communication director EMEA of Cornerstone OnDemand.