By Jason Richmond, Founder, Ideal Outcomes Inc.
Has there ever been a more exciting (or more challenging) time to work in the human capital field? Just consider some of the key issues we have been watching over the past year or two.
Economic, Social and Political Challenges: Organizations of all sizes and industries are struggling to deal with uncertainty, unanticipated change, and shifting policy. We are all being buffeted by these conflicts – and the question of what is going to happen to the economy in the next year or two.
Artificial Intelligence and the Demand for Digital Transformation: Many organizations and human capital teams struggle with dated tools and systems, and a general lack of analytic skill sets. There is less concern today than five years ago that AI would eliminate large numbers of jobs. The concern now is that many of the AI algorithms that were designed to improve efficiencies and quality of hire actually propagate biases by building them into the enterprise software.
Diversity and Inclusion: Concern about a lack of diversity in the workforce continues to rise. A recent Glassdoor survey found that 61 percent of U.S. employees have witnessed or experienced discrimination in the workplace based on age, race, gender or LGBTQ identity.
Multi-Generational Workforce: Although the majority of silent generation members have left the workforce, baby boomers have not left at the rate that was projected. And Gen Z have been entering the workforce in growing numbers. Building teamwork across so diverse a workforce will continue to challenge employers.
These themes are not going away but will continue to morph and evolve. I lay no claim to a crystal ball but do want to share what I see in the latest research and what I hear from my clients.
Accessing Talent: Record low unemployment coupled with skill shortages has led to the newest “war for talent,” which has affected every industry. Robust internal development strategies, tapping into the alternative workforce, and building an employer brand customized to targeted key jobs and employee personas are key.
Accessing Talent Diversity and Inclusion: A Glassdoor 2019 survey found companies are getting the message and are increasing their investment in diversity and inclusion. More than 64 percent of workers say their company is investing more in diversity and inclusion than it has in years past. Glassdoor’s Economic Research team studied millions of the latest job listings on Glassdoor and found that job openings for roles related to diversity and inclusion in the U.S. have increased 30 percent since last year. Fifty-five percent of workers believe their company should do more to increase diversity and inclusion.
Organizational Performance: It’s all about teaming. Organizations will continue to flatten as they replace hierarchies with flexible, cross-functional teams. Deloitte’s research provides evidence that shifting to a team-based model improves performance, with 53 percent of survey participants reporting significant improvement from such a shift. Unfortunately, a mere 7 percent of respondents reported that they are ready to execute this change.
Reskilling of the Workforce: One of the biggest and most exciting trends is the near-death of the traditional job description, with its proscribed list of tasks and responsibilities. And while automation is growing rapidly, jobs may not be going away as quickly as once anticipated but they are changing. According to Deloitte research, 84 percent of the respondents who said that automation would require reskilling reported that they are increasing funding for reskilling and retraining, with 18 percent characterizing this investment as “significant.”
Culture-First Mindset: The recognition that company culture is critical for organizational success has reached tsunami proportions. Two hundred prominent CEOs from the world’s biggest brands declared in the 2019 Business Roundtable that shareholders were no longer the central purpose of today’s companies. They named employees, along with customers, suppliers, and the broader community, as the key stakeholders. According to Glassdoor data, company culture is among the top factors that job seekers consider as part of their job search.
Leadership in 2020 and beyond must rise to this challenge. Leaders must not only face the challenges of economic uncertainly and the speed of technological and social change, they must also be ready to take on social issues, work more collaboratively, and lead others to adapt to enormous ambiguity. Command and control must give way to the ability to lead with influence and do so globally. Leaders must reinvent their ability to learn, to adapt, and to collaboratively create the right organization culture that inspires passion and commitment.