Every year, we’re flooded with “trends to watch in HR” lists. These listicles include everything from how to recruit Gen Z to how to use technology to improve the candidate experience. Over the past several years, there have been some consistent themes in trends reports - no surprises - relating to tech, the gig economy, and employee engagement. As recruiting and HR leaders, we must stay on top of new developments in the talent marketplace, but when we’re truly considering time and budget investment, there are five areas to focus on based on trend reports from previous years, my own personal experience, and looking ahead to the next decade.


Full adoption of technology like artificial intelligence and virtual reality isn’t just around the corner any longer; it’s here and it’s working for companies and HR teams. The same goes for the gig economy, remote employment, agile methodologies, and employee engagement.


Full adoption of technology like artificial intelligence and virtual reality isn’t just around the corner any longer; it’s here and it’s working for companies and HR teams. @jmillermerrell #SmartTalkHR @RiseSmart https://bit.ly/2SE7WGR

  1. Gig Economy. Whether it’s employees who are contracting with you or are working second and third jobs as moonlighting transcriptionist or an Instacart shopper, the way we work and engage these groups of employees is changing. The shift to a gig economy isn’t a fad; it’s growing larger and contract workers more common than ever, which means businesses that can harness a contract model for contraction and expansion could be more efficient than their competitors.


In the United States, more than 40 percent of workers are now employed in “alternative work arrangements,” such as contingent, part-time, or gig work. This percentage is steadily rising—increasing by 36 percent in just the past five years—and now includes workers of all ages and skill levels. In Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends survey, 50 percent of the respondents reported a significant number of contractors in their workforces; 23 percent reported a significant number of freelancers, and 13 percent reported a significant number of gig workers.


All of this suggests that, in simplest terms, the traditional employer-employee relationship is being replaced by the emergence of a diverse workforce ecosystem—a varied portfolio of workers, talent networks, gig workers, and service providers that offers employers flexibility, capabilities, and the potential for exploring different economic models in sourcing talent.


The traditional employer-employee relationship is being replaced by the emergence of a diverse workforce ecosystem—a varied portfolio of workers, talent networks, gig workers, and service providers. @jmillermerrell #SmartTalkHR @RiseSmart https://bit.ly/2SE7WGR

Related content: [White paper] The Employee Relationship Economy


  1. Remote Work. Increasingly employees are working from home, at coworking spaces, or as remote employees. How we lead, engage, and recruit these employee groups is changing. Business leaders and chief human resources officers (CHROs) recognize the need to actively and strategically manage relationships with workforce segments beyond the enterprise, which increasingly affect how an organization delivers services and interacts with customers. The 2018 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report asked leaders to forecast the makeup of their workforce in 2020: 37 percent of survey respondents expected a rise in contractors, 33 percent foresaw an increase in freelancers, and 28 percent expected growth in gig workers. Organizations are finding ways to align their culture and management practices with these external talent segments—engaging the workforce ecosystem for mutual benefit.


HR teams should work with legal and IT to give gig and contract workers clear performance goals, secure communication systems, and the right amount of training and support to make them productive and aligned with the company’s strategy. Don’t forget about providing your managers and workplace leaders with the training, development, and support on how to lead, manage, and engage those remote workers. It’s not only providing with resources to lead this increasingly common group of remote workers, but more importantly, how do we build relationships and help grow a team dynamic when increasingly most interactions are behind a screen.


Related content: How to Hire, Manage, and Motivate a Remote Workforce


  1. The Great Management Divide. This is about the differences in how we must communicate, engage, and decide on how to relate and approach situations with increasingly divisive and separate groups of employees. While knowledge workers and workplace leaders are important, so are the employees on the front lines. How we communicate workplace changes including politics, new technology and programs is becoming very different for these groups of employees.


Related content: 5 Ways to Improve Employee Engagement and Performance


Today’s workforce ecosystem ranges from full-time workers to freelancers, gig workers, and crowds who focus on projects and tasks but may have little understanding of or interest in an organization’s overall strategy. Organizations may expect these workers to be well trained and ready to work, but in reality, they need support, guidance, and performance measures if an employer wants to optimize the entire mix.


  1. Technology. This isn’t a new trend, but technology is changing rapidly. All employees need to be up to speed and on board with technology changes and advancements --especially the new tech you are adding for employee engagement and communication. HR leaders will need to continue to embrace technology for the purpose of recruiting, development, and employee retention. Technology adoption and usability isn’t a generational issue, it’s a work performance challenge. No team member should be left without the training, development, and resources necessary to adopt and efficiently use job-related technology.


Equally important is the growing need and use of technology for human capital management including artificial intelligence, advanced reporting and analytics, and workplace communication technologies. HR should be leading the way in spearheading the adoption of tools not only to drive performance but increase engagement, processes, and connectedness at work.


Related content: How to Make the Most of Artificial Intelligence (AI) – Embrace It


  1. Agile Workforces. Whether it is adding the design process to your team or using agile methodologies to become more flexible in how you serve your managers and leaders at companies, we need to be more nimble. PwC’s Workforce of the Future report recommends making talent and capabilities management a matter of urgency – or risk losing the battle to harness technological breakthroughs and innovation in your sector.


What’s in store for workplace 2030?


Looking ahead to 2030, the PwC report also reinforces the focus on workforce skills and development. As the ‘typical’ linear career path ceases to exist, perceptions of the value of the new norm of a ‘portfolio career’ must change. Time does much to shift thinking but incentives are needed, too. For many workers, job mobility and constant retraining and rotation will become the crucial ways of improving their adaptability, employability and usefulness to society. In the current environment, many people still feel tied to their current career and job because of the pressures of debt and the inflexibility of employer benefits – whether, that’s student debt, mortgages or loans, or non-transferable benefits like employer-sponsored healthcare or pensions. This too has implications for our wider society. As we move forward, incentives aimed at encouraging mobility and development of skills will continue to gain importance over benefits and incentives aimed at job “stickiness.”

11 December 2018

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