2020 trends for HR to consider

Just as personal communication tools have changed from a pager to the latest smartphone, leaders in HR are also continuing to evolve in an ever-changing landscape.

HR is often so mired in the day-to-day whirlwind of everything needing to be done, it’s difficult to find a chance to look up and see what’s coming. To be set up for success, Cecile Alper-Leroux, vice president of HCM innovation at Ultimate Software, has identified a few key trends to keep an eye on heading into the new year.

“The problem with disruption, it hits you from behind without [you] having a chance to think about it,” she says.

Some often-overheard concerns are the aging workforce and the talent shortage.

By 2050, one in six people will be over age 65, according to the United Nations’ figures, and the population of people 80 and over will triple, Alper-Leroux says. Employers are going to need to look to these groups to expand their talent pools.

Hiring retirees is one way employers can do that. Many are coming back into the workforce for both personal reasons and out of necessity. However, these employees don’t want to work the way they did before, Alper-Leroux notes, and HR professionals may need to think about implementing strategies like two months on and four months off.

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Related: How companies are putting ex-offenders back to work

Another opportunity for employers is to expand their remote workforce. Remote work is far more available and effective today, thanks to technology at our disposal, she says.

A few other ideas HR professionals should consider in building an ideal workforce, she notes:

  • Expand your thinking about workplace accessibility.
  • Rethink belonging for your non-traditional full-time workers, including gig and freelance employees.
  • Reassess real qualifications of physical and environmental requirements at work.
  • Invest in technology and policies to augment people and level the playing field.

Alper-Leroux also says that, as employers enhance and expand their technology, adaptability to AI is another trend to keep on the HR radar.

“If you’re not feeling AI yet, you will. In the next four to five years, half of what you do today will be done by machines.”

“Adaptability comes for exploration,” she adds. “As we look at that experimentation, we have to get comfortable with failing and failing faster.”

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Employees are dying for growth opportunities too, she adds. “Upskilling and reskilling: How can machine learning provide that rapid learning opportunity?”

Related: AI is coming, but is HR ready?

Lastly, she says, HR needs to be aware of our modern-day trust crisis.

Employers have an opportunity here, she says, as people put more trust in their employer than they do in NGOs, the government or the media.

“If we are the most trusted entity to people, we need to make sure our people trust us,” she says.

With so much data availability, employers need to be able to balance openness and privacy. “Trust is built through transparency and openness,” she says.

To help with that balance, Alper-Leroux shares a few thoughts:

  • Treat your employees like customers.
  • Give control of their data to employees.
  • Publish a code of ethics in how you treat your employees.
  • Automate compliance wherever possible.

“People want and demand transparency,” she adds, “and we have to balance that with protecting our people’s data.”

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