Jason Fowler, HR Director at Fujitsu UK&I

This year, HR topics have had a much bigger impact on business, and as we enter 2020, there is no sign of this slowing down.

In light of this, Jason Fowler, HR Director at Fujitsu UK&I has shared his top five HR predictions for 2020:

  1. Digital dexterity will take prominence
  2. Recruitment will become about upskilling rather than buying talent
  3. Wellbeing will become more personalised
  4. Data will continue to drive the diversity topic
  5. More digital and integrated HR functions

The traditional career path is changing, and in order to remain relevant and appealing to top talent, organisations and their HR departments need to adapt.

As the more linear approach to careers is being replaced by interest-based and lateral career moves, employers need to break their obsession with specific skills or experience.

Instead, they need to start recognising that innate curiosity and well-rounded, diverse career paths can have a more significant impact compared to a proven track record in one discipline or skillset.

In turn, talent today is better informed than ever before, and employers need to be prepared to offer challenging opportunities that stimulate, develop and motivate staff.

A positive segmentation of the workforce that offers a more personalised employee experience means HR can facilitate a greater sense of connection between employees and their organisation. An environment where the employer cares about employee wellbeing will create the plaform for individuals to be the very best version of themselves and contribute at work in a more meaningful manner.

As we enter 2020, we’ll start to see this evolve in a number of ways, ranging from how talent acquisition professionals recruit to how this plays into a bigger macro trend around employee wellbeing.

Technology represents both a threat and an opportunity to UK business; but to truly benefit from it, organisations will have to take their employee engagement to the next level. This means that topics such as wellbeing will move from being a duty of care to becoming a point of commercial differentiation.

Those employers able to establish a work environment that is challenging yet nurturing, and that creates mutual commitment to perpetual learning will outperform their sector. And in the context of a skills crisis, organisations are going to have to work harder to ensure both talent recruitment and retention offers the opportunity for people to use their skills and abilities in a supportive, rewarding, and above all, meaningful environment

Top five predictions for what we should expect from HR in the coming year:

1. Digital dexterity takes prominence

Digital transformation is a term that has been with us for some time now – and continues to mean quite different things to different people. Previously it was an initiative for organisations looking to gain a competitive edge over their peers, but in today’s landscape, for any progressive company, it has become interwoven into the core foundations of the business.

As part of this, digital dexterity will become a priority in 2020, and the future workplace will require more emphasis on the “mindset persona” – requiring employees to be comfortable with ambiguity, committed to matching the pace of change and to continuously learn. Forward thinking HR teams will recognise the need to break the obsession with experience that many employers have and will shift their talent strategy from “what have you done” to “what could you do”.

2. Recruitment gets more difficult: build rather than buy talent

The clichéd “war for talent” has been with us for years, but the challenge will take a different turn in 2020. Hiring for skills needed today will prove to be an expensive game: salary premiums for rare skills that are in-demand for relatively short periods of time is unlikely to prove a winning strategy.

Instead, bold decisions to integrate digital dexterity competencies with skill-specific learning programmes that are combined with deliberate, experienced-based role rotations will enable employers to address their talent pipeline challenges, and do so in a manner that is sustainable and that creates engagement across the organisation.

3. Wellbeing gets personalised – and psychological safety more prominent

In the coming year we’ll see the topic of wellbeing in the workplace take a big step forward. Organisations will start thinking carefully about how they design work – and the working environment – that is more meaningful, manageable and fulfilling. This will require organisations to think more creatively about the structure of work and to recognise that a good day at work can mean different things to different people.

How HR leads on this and how employers support these initiatives, whilst integrating new working methods such as agile, will be a lead indicator as to which organisations will thrive and which will be focussed only on surviving. As part of this, psychological safety will increase in prominence as a vital metric in assessing the health, wellbeing and performance potential of teams.

4. Diversity by default

None of us will be surprised to see diversity and inclusion (D&I) as a main theme for 2020; however, the difference will be an accelerated and expanded use of data to drive this topic. We have seen the impact that gender pay gap reporting has had and of course we have had recent government consultation on ethnicity pay gap reporting.

This should demonstrate to HR how data can offer insight and allow for more rapid progress, where we may have seen this topic dominated by good intent, but not always backed up with real improvement. As such, organisations will look more  closely at data to understand their pay gap(s) by department, the trend by quarter, how it manifests in new hires, attrition, role types and other aspects. I can see that enlightened boards will be expecting HR to be generating action plans that are explicitly connected to data driven insights – and the impact of these plans similarly tracked.

For a while now this topic has been recognised by most as the “right thing” for a responsible organisation to make a priority. As we move into 2020, we will enter into a era where not taking a prominent stance in addressing D&I and not having data to provide substance to the good intent will be a major commercial risk, with customers less willing to buy from or partner with you. It will of course have a huge impact – positively or negatively, depending on extent of progress – on talent acquisition efforts.

5. A more digital and integrated HR function

Very few HR professionals would claim that technology and HR are natural bedfellows. However, in 2020 this needs to change. An HR function needs to not only be comfortable, but also intimate with tech – to understand what it means for their business strategy, for the employee experience (EX), and for talent attraction; and how the services delivered by HR can be improved through its use.

As part of this, more advanced HR teams will be replicating some of the methods used by marketing departments to segement their employee base. Doing so will help them avoid the pitfalls of casual demographic stereotypes and also recognise that the relationship between an individual and their employer can change through time.

As part of this, HR needs to offer improved personalisation and flexibility in EX to respond to this. Not being expert in technology, its broad implications and the game-changing opportunity that data presents will risk pushing HR to the periphery of the organisation.

Jason Fowler, HR Director at Fujitsu UK&I

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