Spoiler alert: the four trends of talent-management all converge into just one powerful ideology: human empathy.

In late 2019, nearly 200 CEOs signed on to a “Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation.” Instead of putting shareholder value over everything else, they say a company’s purpose now includes investing in employees.

According to a study of more than 7,000 professionals in 35 countries by LinkedIn Talent Solutions, companies are becoming more empathetic not only to attract candidates but to retain their workforce amid increasing expectations of what employers owe to their people. Empathy can be seen in each of this year’s trends:

  • the emergence of employee experience (EX) with new ways to cater to employees;
  • the adolescence of people analytics with its emphasis on understanding human behavior;
  • the rediscovery of internal recruiting with a focus on advancing people’s careers from within;
  • the maturation of the multigenerational workforce with the importance of celebrating everyone’s strengths.

The 2020s will be all about these four trends of the main theme of putting people first. 

Empathy trend #1: Employee experience 

Companies are beginning to work for employees, not just the other way around. Human Resource teams are going all-in on employee experience to improve retention and employer brand. Beyond collecting feedback, companies need to actively collaborate with employees to create an experience that works for everyone. 

Note: 77% of companies focus on employee experience to increase retention.

Empathy trend #2: People analytics  

Analytics have promised to revolutionise recruiting and HR for a decade, but until recently only the most sophisticated companies have reaped the rewards. Now we are reaching an inflection point where data is accessible to all. Understanding and capitalising on analytics is quickly becoming a must-have skill in HR. 

HR professionals with data analysis skills over the last 5 years
Note: There is 242% increase in HR professionals with data analysis skills over the last 5 years.

Empathy trend #3: Internal recruiting  

Chances are that your organisation is overlooking a promising talent pool: your people. Currently, most internal hiring happens thanks to proactive moves from employees. It’s time for recruiters to create a formal internal hiring program and work with the Learning & Development team to build the skills needed for the future. 

Note: 41% longer employee tenure at companies with high internal hiring compared to those with low internal hiring.

Empathy trend #4: Multigenerational workforce  

Later retirements and the arrival of Gen Z mean companies are seeing more age diversity than ever. Young, seasoned, and everyone in between can help prove that good work is ageless. The onus is on companies to help age-diverse teams to discover their best selves by creating the conditions for collaboration and knowledge exchange. 

Note: 56% of companies say they have recently updated policies to appeal to a multigenerational workforce.

Making sense of the trends

If your organisation does not experience a high employee churn-rate, does this mean it will not degrade into that situation in the future? If your organisation is experiencing a talent crunch but current measures are in place to stave off operational consequences, does that mean it should remain complacent?

Can organisations recognise the transcendent value of the four trends above and combine them to form a radical mandate to reengineer how employees are valued? Will the very process of doing so cost more than all the foreseeable long-term tangible benefits of humanizing the workplace? These are some hard questions that senior leaders need to introspect regardless of their current manpower situation.

In the meanwhile, LinkedIn has suggested five tips for elevating employee experience:

  1. Listen and act continuously
    You will gain credibility with employees when you take action on their feedback promptly. The key here is to survey frequently so you create a continuous feedback-action loop. If you cannot take action immediately, be sure to set those expectations upfront.
  2. Map every Journey
    Find out what moments matter most in every employee’s journey. Uncover key experiences and milestones through employee interviews, focus groups, and surveys. Your EX is unique, so you cannot find these answers anywhere other than from your employees.
  3. Share ownership
    Regardless of function, think about how to involve employees in identifying and solving problems. Getting people to perform their regular tasks with and for employees requires a mindset shift. Need a new learning platform? Do not just have some managers make a decision. Ask employees how they like to learn.
  4. Win small
    Rather than a massive overhaul of whatever system is broken, try a small fix and see what you learn. Questions like, “What’s the one thing you’d change about your onboarding experience?” or “If you could kill one rule we have, what would it be?” can help pinpoint where to start. Do not underestimate the power of minor improvements.
  5. Be open
    Show where you are putting money and time. Share feedback results transparently and quickly. Employees want a two-way dialogue. Being upfront builds trust, so communicate your track record and business cases where you need it.

Gaze into the 2020s crystal ball:

By now, any causal research into the spectacular rise and fall of corporations of all kinds will tell you that even the best visionaries will not be able to keep their organisation thriving and successful for long if their talent retention policies are weak. Exacerbate that with the pressures of digital transformation and you will see that the next 10 years will witness radical overhauls of human resource functions and leadership mindsets.

And the benefits are real

When employee churn is low, and headcount growth is healthy—the real value-added training, nurturing, career development and top-notch work can begin. A stable, ethical and peaceful corporate culture also has a strong bearing on how an organisation can even reach this level of excellence, but that is a story for another day. In the meantime, when an organisation finally wakes up to the need for disrupting the traditional HR, that is when the top leadership can laugh and say “Talent crunch? What crunch?”