Predicting the future with an absolute certainty is impossible, however, in order to prepare for the future, it is important to identify trends from the past, and the present, and set viable goals. The Workforce Institute at Kronos that provides research, education, and insights on global workplace issues has revealed its 2019 workplace trends predictions, and has touched upon a variety of pertinent issues for HR that include the impact of technology, changing workforce composition, scarce talent, and complex labor challenges. The projections indicate that 2019 is set to be the year where organizations will accelerate their journeys to be agile and begin using the knowledge, insights, and lessons that have been learned in the last few years. Here is what the projections mean:
Technology is expected to directly or indirectly impact all workforce-related trends in the near future. On the one hand, Artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are expected to provide ‘actionable insights for employee and business goals’ by helping make sense of the humungous amounts of data that is already being collected. And on the other hand, leaders and managers will have to be trained in new leadership and management styles that are inspiring, inclusive, and engaging. Unsurprisingly, technology will play a significant part in this process as well. While with regular and digestible access to workforce data trends – like scheduling accuracy, absenteeism, overtime usage and burnout – predictive analytics will shine, helping organizations eliminate potential issues before they arise, Intelligent automation will free up managers from admin-heavy tasks – like managing schedules, approving time-off requests and shift changes – while encouraging data-driven decision-making to provide clarity about what is equal versus what is fair. In addition, intelligent technology will pave way for a fairer workplace and help employers increase compliance. “Technology will be vital for organizations to manage scheduling-related mandates, ensure unbiased practices, monitor fatigue and overtime management, and ensure employees are paid accurately and fairly – all while leaning on analytical insights to expose risky managerial practices buried in a sea of employment data.”
Examining the impact of workforce trends on HR is important in order to anticipate challenges and roadblocks. The talent war is set to intensify, traditional roles will evolve, and effective people management will require using advanced tools. Interestingly, employers are also expected to fool-proof the future of their employees in the event of a disaster or a tragedy. Let’s take a look at how these trends will pose a challenge for HR leaders and professionals:
Talent: If you think that scouting for talent has become increasingly challenging in the past few years, gear up, because this year, it will get even tougher. Several factors like shrinking talent pools, evolving job roles, and changing work structures will increase the pressure on HR to source and retain the best talent. To attract top talent, the Workforce Institute says, that companies will turn to honing next generation leaders and managers. “While an employer’s brand, innovative hiring technologies and proactive recruiting practices are more important than ever, it’s organizations with the best people managers that will ultimately prevail. Organizations will place an increased focus on leadership development as a retention strategy – especially as millennials flock to middle management – and measuring manager effectiveness will be HR’s top challenge in 2019.”
Changing Roles: HR will struggle to align emerging roles and job-specific skills with traditional job titles and conventional hiring practices. With the rise of certificate and micro-credential programs, employers will have to embrace new approaches to identifying skills. “As yesterday’s jobs get augmented by automation, new skills will be required for traditional ‘blue-collar’ roles. Employers must revamp their hiring profiles and remove traditional job requirements to tap into this new pool of qualified candidates who will staff the shop floor, store floor, hospital floor, and top floor of the future.”
Disaster Preparedness: In the age of frequent and often devastating, natural and manmade disasters, organizations will need to revamp their disaster policies, processes, and capabilities. In order to effectively respond to crises, employers will have to design robust rebuilding and support strategies for their employees that put HR, operations, and payroll at the center stage in the lives of affected employees. “With more emphasis on company culture, caring, and “doing what’s right” in a world where disasters – and a company’s response to them – are frequently in the news, there is a new level of expectation for an organization’s response, responsibility and employee benefits… Sustainability plans that today primarily account for company assets and data will need to incorporate employees and their families.”
Challenges of the Labor Markets
The world over, labor markets will experience an upheaval of sorts, partly due to the changes in their composition and partly due to the uncertain political and economic conditions.
“The gig economy and emergence of the ‘occasional-time worker’ will force organizations to replace traditional hiring and scheduling processes with systems that enable workers to choose when, where, and how long they work.”
While in the past employers have used flexibility and ‘alternative work schedules’ interchangeably, they will now attempt to redesign business practices according to new employee-centered policies.
“Mobile-friendly processes, self-service features, and immediate access to real-time data in a consumer-grade technology wrapper will help drive the next iteration of the flexibility phenomenon, as predictability of anytime work will empower employees to be more productive, make more intelligent decisions, and be more engaged.”
Political and economic policies of the USA and Britain will disrupt markets and “put increased strain on organizations to avoid sanctions, fines, crippling class action lawsuits, and reputation-damaging stories.” Additionally, government policies are expected to regulate employment laws on a variety of issues like minimum wage, sick pay, fair scheduling proposals, the right to disconnect etc. Employers will have to thus, update their policies to ensure compliance with the law and provide non-negotiable flexibility to all their workers.
All of these predictions point towards the fact that 2019 isn’t going to be smooth sailing for organizations and HR. One can expect the talk about ‘change’ to give way to proactively understanding and implementing it and retrofit the conventional business practices accordingly. The next few months will solidify the preparation path chosen by businesses to be future-ready that will help them transition to new ways of working. For HR leaders, the task is particularly challenging, for they have to play a vital role in solving the challenges of the present, while anticipating the ones of the future. However, one can expect the HR function to further integrate with overarching company goals and deliver comprehensive solutions for a variety of business challenges.