As 2019 winds down, it’s only natural to wonder what the next year will bring and what the trends of 2020 will look like for HR. What changes are on the horizon and what new emerging ideas should we be aware of?
The big one has, of course, been artificial intelligence for many years. However, AI for recruiting, per some statistics, is in about 24% of midsize to large organizations, with 56% planning to add it in the next year. At this point, then, AI is “here.” It’s not necessarily an emerging trend anymore; what’s emerging about AI is how companies are using it to maximize talent acquisition and speed/accuracy/long-term retention of their pipelines. As a result, we’re not going to say “AI is a trend for 2020!,” even though AI for recruiting is important. Beyond that traditionally big concept, though, what should recruiters be considering in the next 12-15 months?
Flexibility for candidates
Per an International Workplace Group survey, 80% of candidates would choose the offer (at least the appearance of) with more flexibility. That’s a big number, and this is a big advantage for recruiters. They need to find ways to offer flexibility in different situations: multiple young children (start/end times for work might need to be adjusted), aging parents (same, with more remote flexibility), and remote work in general. If your HQ is in Toronto but the best person for your team is in Denver and they can’t move right now, you should still find a way to bring them into the team. Don’t sacrifice candidate quality simply because of flexibility or location “needs.” We have enough technology -- think about just Skype or Zoom -- where these things can be managed successfully. It's time to stop being afraid of remote or flexible work and start adjusting to the shifting realities of a modern workforce.
Steve Boese, who manages the Las Vegas HR Tech conference, has pointed to this as a 2020 trend. The idea is that HR technology can sometimes feel very one-size-fits-all for the employees (or candidates in the case of recruiting). Can HR become more personalized? Boese uses the iPhone as an example. Every iPhone is shipped with the same apps pre-built and the same setup you need to follow. But if you lined up 100 new phone users, within minutes you’d have 100 different phones as they add the elements that are important to them. Employees should absolutely have the flexibility to customize how they interact with HR departments -- it’s a little bit harder on the candidate side simply because you need specific information from a candidate, but candidate experience should always be a priority anyway (and should go hand-in-hand with employee experience).
Team-based or collaborative hiring
Have you tried team hiring yet? Some organizations are doing this and have been for close to a decade, but you’re starting to see it become more normative, which is good. According to a CareerBuilder study from the early 2010s, 88% of employers surveyed rated employee referrals higher than all other sources as the best means of generating return-on-investment. Recruiters and hiring managers are important stewards of a hiring process, but the members of the team that a candidate will join know best about the work that gets done, the pace of the year (busy seasons, etc.) and the personalities already on the team. As such, team-based hiring makes some sense. If you can set it up so that the hiring manager is still the “final vote,” i.e. not stripping them of any authority, it tends to work best.
This goes a little bit beyond AI. We mean intelligent automation of various, often-repetitive tasks throughout the HR workflow, be that recruiting or another functional area. The more you automate, the more you can free up people for value-add tasks. The more people are doing value-add tasks, the better your business runs -- and chances are your turnover also reduces, because your employees will now find their work a bit more engaging and purposeful. So broad automation across the ecosystem can have a lot of benefits. The fear is always “This will kill jobs,” and yes, that might happen in some cases. But the bigger picture is that intelligent automation can continue to make existing jobs better by taking away the manual processes that tech can do better than humans anyway.
Importance of diversity
Diversity hasn’t been a great topic, especially in tech circles, over the last decade or so but that situation is improving. We are seeing an increased commitment to diversity at some big organizations, and AI / machine learning advancements, thought by some to potentially limit diversity, are actually helping increase diversity in many places. There are still challenges in this area, for sure, but the bottom-line impact is there -- more diverse companies have about 19% higher revenue. And going along with diversity is inclusion. It's not just about finding candidates who bring a different skill set or worldview onboard, it's also about creating a company where those people and ideas will be welcomed. Companies who forget about inclusion often find their turnover rates climb as their new diverse hires drop right back out of the talent management funnel to go somewhere they are more appreciated.
2020 will be an interesting year
Human resources as a field is likely headed for some changes in the next few years. More automation will make for less time wasted in busy-work tasks. Technology will assist in making remote work more connected. And shifting employees expectations will change the way we think about well-being, productivity, employee engagement, and more. We've already seen how organizations are adapting to create stronger company cultures and more engaging onboarding approaches, leveraging virtual reality and gamification to improve learning. Those trends will likely feed into other processes and strategies around what a successful and well-run company looks like in the future.
In the coming year, we'll see more shifts as the future of work moves closer. The skills gap is real, after all, as is the ongoing emergence of new technologies. HR leaders will be a large part of helping organizations change to meet the new realities of our tech driven world. But even as we rush towards the future, remember a few things never go out of style. So before 2020 reaches us, take a moment to appreciate everything you've been able to achieve in the last 12 months and the hardworking employees who made it all possible.