2020 - what does the future of work hold?

In no particular order, here are some big trends that we’re seeing at Gazella as the New Year starts.

The rise of leading with purpose

Until recently, a company leader’s job has been to set the strategy and then set managers to control how employee’s get things done. Now, top leaders are increasingly looking to create agile, adaptable cultures where teams work together, trust each other and understand the purpose of their work.

That means being able to articulate why your business exists, what you stand for and what makes your company stand out from the competition.

59% of employees in a recent Korn Ferry survey said their major driver keeping them in their current role is the belief that their work has purpose and meaning. 

The reducing benefit of benefits

Last year, US firms spent an incredible $3.1 trillion on employee benefits. That’s not far off the UK’s GDP. And still employees left US businesses. Like pay, benefits have become a hygiene factor - employees aren’t motivated by them, they only notice them when they are gone.

So, whilst free fruit, extra holidays and health insurance are important in securing great employees, by themselves they don’t retain them.

Pay transparency

Asking ‘How much do you earn?’ used to be taboo, but a growing number of employees now happily talk openly about their pay.  Pay transparency has become a big topic around the world. More than 80 countries have passed pay equality legislation, the UK being a leader with mandatory reporting requirements for larger businesses. There is also a concerted effort to make executive salaries transparent, with the CEO Pay Ratio ruling in the U.S. and the Shareholder Rights Directive set to strengthen the position of shareholders and reduce short termism and excessive risk taking in EU companies from 2020.

If employees don’t believe that compensation is equitable, data suggests that they will leave their organisation or stay but be less engaged and less productive.

Less across-the-board recruitment.…

UK unemployment, at 3.8% (Aug 19), may be at its lowest since 1974, but we don’t expect an outbreak of recruitment this year.  Until we get a handle on Brexit, hiring for roles that have a direct bottom-line impact will continue to be prioritised over more traditional roles.

…and fewer across-the-board pay rises

At the same time, fewer companies will give across-the-board cost-of-living increases, with firms using more discretionary incentives, such as bonuses, to reward top performers. Putting the above-average increase brought about by the introduction of the National Living Wage in April aside, the only salaries will only be higher in 2020 than they were in 2019 will be low inflation.

…unless you really are top talent, that is.

The big pay increases are going to people with in-demand tech skills that will help firms with AI and digital transformation. Indeed, some companies are currently recruiting people with niche technical skills (many into roles that didn’t exist a year ago) even if they don’t have immediate jobs for them.

Companies are also strengthening their recruitment by inviting candidates to events that show off their culture. They’re also improving their processes by reducing the overall time taken and cutting the number of interviews before deciding to hire. The trick to becoming an employer of choice is to be authentic and transparent.

Re-skilling for the future.

Even with high employment, workers are worried about whether their job will be there next year. Talent professionals are recommending more and more that employees continually sharpen their skill sets. Many organisations are helping their employees here, as they know many of the skills that are critical today may be irrelevant tomorrow. Re-skilling is becoming a top HR priority, with many firms working to improve both hard skills, such as programming or data analysis, and soft skills, such as people management and learning agility, to help their employees to change and be ready for the jobs of tomorrow.

Continuous transformation

Re-skilling is important, but, like pay and bens, it’s not everything. Companies today are moving away from earth-shaking, one-time change initiatives and toward a culture of continuous transformation. Many leaders making strategic changes that require people to do things differently are taking the impact on the company culture into account in the planning process.

Rise of the career nomad.

How work is changing is on leaders’ minds, but so is how employees themselves are changing. ‘Career nomads,’ those high-performing talented Gen Y and Z employees who have no qualms about switching jobs, organisations and even careers, seem almost disinterested in staying put.

Given that talent is expensive to replace, businesses are increasingly aiming to keep these job hoppers by developing career paths with them, helping them upgrade their skills, and offering flexible work schedules. As a leader, you may decide to avoid candidates who say they have no intention of sticking around, but that may miss out on a big pool of top talent.

Thanks to Korn Ferry for their insight here.