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Merritt Anderson

Worldwide ERC

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Five talent management trends to watch in 2020

The year ahead for HR professionals.

We’re at the start of a new year, a time when HR professionals will be starting to implement their strategies for the upcoming year and assess trends that may affect workforce planning in the months to come. A number of factors might come into play this year to make it easier or more difficult to move people and resources around to address HR needs.

Businesses may watch budgets more closely in 2020, which may affect HR operations across the board.

The outlines of a more mobile workforce are taking shape as talent fluidity across roles, skills, projects and regions becomes increasingly necessary to support corporate agility. Will market opportunities remain strong? Economic indicators seem fairly solid in the short term, but geopolitical events like Brexit and market factors such as trade disputes have introduced notes of uncertainty.

The US enjoys almost full employment in most sectors, making the competition for skilled talent more intense than ever. How can companies attract and retain the people they need next year? Which current challenges will continue into 2020, and which new hurdles will emerge? No one knows for sure, but here’s an overview of five talent management trends to watch out for in 2020.

1. Employee experience remains a top focus

The emphasis on delivering a great employee experience will remain a top priority, and new programmes will be included to round out offerings. For example, more companies can leverage their global mobility programmes to attract highly skilled candidates who value personal and professional growth opportunities. Positioning mobility programmes not only as a perk but also as a key component of development, offers a way for companies with a global mindset to differentiate themselves from the competition.

2. Companies become more cost-conscious

A long season of growth allowed cost concerns to recede at many companies. Whether the economy contracts or not, there’s enough global uncertainty to justify a renewed focus on expenses. Businesses may watch budgets more closely in 2020, which may affect HR operations across the board. HR professionals should seek out opportunities to partner with business leaders to move people and resources to projects more economically.

3. Data and analytics will drive innovation

Mark Twain once said, “most people use statistics like a drunk man uses a lamppost; more for support than illumination”. Too often, the same is true of data in HR, partly because talent management information tends to be siloed. In 2020, the most forward-thinking HR leaders will continue using data to drive innovation, and they’ll proactively work with colleagues in other business units to compile and analyze this data to discover new opportunities.

4. More programmes will be tailored for millennials

Already the dominant workforce demographic, millennial workers, hold increasingly senior positions and possess some of the most sought-after skills in the marketplace. That means HR professionals will come up with more creative ways to appeal to this generation’s unique sensibilities, including professional development, the opportunity to work abroad and perks like relocation packages that take care of pets as well as children.

5. Talent managers will need a more integrated and agile approach

The new normal is constant change. Business cycles are accelerating, and workforce needs emerge and shift just as quickly. It will take an ‘all hands on deck’ approach from   all key stakeholders involved in talent management, to put the people and resources in place to drive product innovation and business growth. This is a good time for HR professionals to build bridges with colleagues so they can collaborate and succeed as a team. We are moving into an increasingly more collaborative age, and agility and responsiveness are important in every facet of business.

One common theme associated with all of these trends is the need to take a more strategic approach to talent management. With broader business trends like digital transformation reconfiguring the way companies deliver value to customers, HR professionals (along with colleagues across the organisation) have to get used to continuingly questioning the status quo. As business models change, HR will have to adjust to keep serving as the organisation’s workforce optimisation partner.

For HR, the basic functions remain the same: ensuring compliance and managing recruiting, staff learning and development, payroll, recordkeeping and employee relations. The strategies for accomplishing these tasks at speed and scale, however, may shift to adjust to new marketplace factors and geopolitical realities that change demand for specific skills. A new workforce strategy that emphasises global mobility as a lever to fill emerging skills requirements can be an effective way to address uncertainty while preparing for growth.

There’s no crystal ball to predict the future, but 2020 will almost certainly hold its share of surprises. Keep an eye on these five trends in the year ahead and look for new ways to work with people inside the talent management organisation, as well as coworkers in other departments. Organisations that pool internal talent from across the enterprise, and apply expertise from multiple areas, can meet the New Year with confidence.

Interested in this topic? Read Talent management: 8 ways to reshape your people strategy.

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Merritt Anderson

Board Member

Read more from Merritt Anderson

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