There is no denying the fact that the concept of workplace, as we know it, is undergoing a dramatic evolution. This expansion of the workspace that goes beyond the ‘norm’ to incorporate a diverse, talented, global, and multi-generational workforce has also facilitated a shift in what employees and employers expect from each other. LinkedIn’s ‘Global Talent Trends 2019’ report explores this changing employee-employer dynamic and dives deep into the trends that are transforming the workplace. Based on a survey of over 5,000 talent professionals in 35 countries, the report presents globally diverse and actionable insights on the most pressing contemporary talent trends. Let us take a closer look at the findings of the report, and analyze the four trends that are changing the way we work:
In an age where machines and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are quickly taking over repetitive human jobs, the skills that are innately human will naturally be the most sought-after. With 91 percent of the respondents in the survey attesting to the rising importance of such skills, soft skills are rising as the most important skill trend that is changing the way we work. India is among the top countries where 95 percent talent professionals believe that soft skills are critical to the future of recruitment and HR.
While soft skills have always been important, they are indispensable in today’s age. This is not to say that the significance of technical skills is any lesser, but simply, that both will be on an equal footing. The same is evident from the fact that 92 percent of the respondents believe that soft skills are as much, or more, important than hard skills and 89 percent affirm that bad hires typically lack soft skills.
Skills like creativity, persuasion, collaboration, adaptability, and time management are the most in demand, according to the report.
However, the biggest challenge faced by organizations today is their ability to assess and identify the right soft skills. While only 41 percent report having a formal process for soft skill assessment, as much as 68 percent of the talent professionals state that the primary method to assess soft skills in an interview is by picking up on social cues. So, how do HR professionals and recruiters then go about hiring the right candidate? The report suggests identifying specific skills needed for a role, using online tools to prescreen candidates, being conscious of the human bias in the hiring process, standardizing interview questions, and posing more problem-solving questions to allow candidates to demonstrate the application of their soft skills.
The number of LinkedIn users who consider flexible work arrangements as ‘very important’ when considering a job has been steadily rising over the past few years with employers equally recognizing this. Since 2016, there has been a 78 percent increase in the number of job posts that mention ‘work flexibility’. The sentiment is particularly noticeable in Northern Europe and Australia, where 85 percent and 84 percent of the talent professionals, respectively, surveyed say that work flexibility is essential to the future of recruiting and HR. In contrast, 67 percent of the Indian talent professionals and recruiters believe the same. Companies in the tech industry are offering the maximum workplace flexibility and those in manufacturing and healthcare are least flexible – primarily due to the nature of the job.
The report suggests that organizations have already started reaping the benefits of allowing workplace flexibility to their employees. While helping employees improve work-life balance is the most obvious advantage (77 percent), others include improved retention (54 percent), attracting talent (51 percent), increased productivity (42 percent), and expansion of talent pool (38 percent). But how does one solve the challenges that comes with increasing work flexibility, like team bonding, collaboration, and work oversight? While there are several tools that maintain a constant connection between teams in different locations, the report suggests that understanding the kind of flexibility that is desired by employees is the first step towards designing effective workplace flexibility policies. Using the right tools to connect with flexible workers, setting the right expectations, and training managers to lead flexible teams are other critical steps in the process.
Sexual harassment at the workplace is a serious issue that has only started getting its due ever since the #MeToo movement began dominating the public discourse. In addition to helping individuals tell their stories, the movement has also put pressure on organizations irrespective of industries and sectors to prevent harassment by building a safe workplace culture that mandates respect for everyone.
Employees, too, it seems have realized that business cannot go on as usual as the talent professionals who were a part of the survey state that employees in their organization are speaking up more on uncomfortable social issues, calling out bad behavior, cutting down on insensitive and inappropriate jokes, and most importantly, are willing to listen and learn.
There has been a 71 percent year-on-year rise in the workplace harassment related content shared on LinkedIn.
In India, harassment in the workplace has become a significant issue as 87 percent of the Indian respondents agree that harassment prevention is critical for the future of recruitment and HR – compared to 71 percent globally. However, the survey also found that men are less likely to believe that anti-harassment policies are effective at building a safe workplace environment and culture.
While there is an increased awareness and the need for urgent action has been rightly identified, most organizations aren’t approaching the problem with significant solutions. For instance, highlighting existing policies on harassment has been the most followed course of action taken over the last few years, followed by promotion of ways to safely file complaints and reports. Companies are yet to “adopt systemic changes to their workplace, like increasing their gender diversity or revamping their investigative procedures.” Similarly, while all the respondents in the survey agreed that there is a need to add more ways to safely report harassment, only 25 percent admitted that their organizations are doing so.
Experts in the report suggest that objectively assessing present training methods, understanding how harassment is currently reported and responded to, and analyzing employee experiences with regard to harassment is the foremost step any organization should take to create a more respectful and safer workplace. This should be followed by updating current policies and mechanisms, incorporating relevant issues, expanding the scope of training, educating employees, and ensuring that harassment is responded with real and public action.
In what would seem like a dramatic shift from traditional pay practices, employees are expecting pay transparency from their employers. Conventionally, employee salaries have been kept confidential to prevent any disputes within the company and discourage poaching of talent. However, lately, leaders have noticed that transparency results in a more trusted and loyal relationship between the employee and the company. Organizations fear that sharing salary information with employees will create salary disputes (75 percent), limit negotiation (34 percent), would make the interview all about the pay (31 percent). However, the benefits of pay transparency, which include streamlining negotiation (57 percent), ensuring fair pay (55 percent), filtering out candidates who will decline at a later stage (54 percent), and allowing the interviewer to discuss other things confidently (51 percent) are beginning to outweigh these fears.
Since pay transparency isn’t a common practice yet, 51 percent of the respondents in the report state that their organization doesn’t share salary ranges and aren’t likely to start; 22 percent stated that while salary information isn’t shared currently, it is likely to start; and, 27 percent said that their company is already sharing salary ranges. For those willing to establish pay transparency in their organizations, the report suggests to first conduct an audit to determine how their salaries stack up against their competitors and if there are any pay gaps within the organizations in similar roles. Next, leaders can choose to disclose salary ranges in job posts, or directly with employees, or even the exact amount. Involving employees in the process and setting up mechanisms to answer queries and garner feedback is also a crucial part of the process. Organizations willing to implement pay transparency should also have clearly-defined answers that explain what factors determine an individual’s pay, train managers to discuss salaries within their teams, and communicate the need to be transparent while rolling out the policy.
In order to sustain and engage a workforce that can help solve critical business challenges in the future, organizations need to make an earnest effort to accommodate the changing needs and expectations of employees. The ‘Global Talent Trends 2019’ report can serve as a great starting point for talent and HR professionals who are working towards making their companies future-ready. By future-proofing the workforce and investing in soft skills, providing great flexibility, creating a safe and respectful work culture, and championing pay transparency, employers stand to gain a lot. As the report sums up, employers need to consider what is right for their organization and lay the foundation for change thoughtfully and at a steady pace.