Human Resource Trends to pay attention to in 2020

The 'future-forward' HR will need to think about both long-term and short-term workforce planning.

8 mins read
Human Resource Trends to pay attention to in 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a major drift in the traditional workplace pushing more people towards tele-working. Companies are undertaking digital business transformations that are changing their products and services, operations and internal capabilities. Equally, employees now have a major say about where, how, and when they want to work. This leaves HR professionals unravelling the human resource trends to pay attention to in 2020.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to reset key human resource trends in 2020  – many irreversibly, Human Resource leaders are pressured to reexamine their workforce. There is need for them to reexamine employee planning, management, performance, and experience for the future of work – which is already here. There key role is to advise executives on the skills they will need, how they can leverage evolving employment models like gig employment and how they can change organisational processes to manage technology-driven workflows. Technology has transformed the nature of work – how work gets done, who does it, and even what work looks like – drastically altering present realities and tomorrow’s possibilities.

The HR profession is at limbo and is facing many factors at play. Other than dealing with the demographic shift of the workforce, where millennials now make up the largest generational group, they need to deal with workplace automation that is rapidly putting large labour market segments at risk of redundancy or profound change. Thus, every Human Resources department is tasked to pay attention to these trends:

“Technology has transformed the nature of work – how work gets done, who does it, and even what work looks like – drastically altering present realities and tomorrow’s possibilities.”

  • Workforce strategy

Speaking of the workforce, it’s an agent of change itself. Long serving HR professionals probably remember the rise of Generation Y (Millennials) and how unprepared HR was when it happened. In an attempt to stop history from repeating itself, Covid-19 has given the HR professionals a transitional grace period, albeit short. And the timing couldn’t be better. We are entering an unusually creative period of human history with an increasingly young and creative workforce.

It is estimated that by 2021 the workforce will be 50 percent Generation Z – the digital natives. To them, technology is practically an extension of their being and with a bottleneck in the talent pipeline, attracting and retaining the best people will be crucial.

As the technological advancement cause the job landscape to evolve, so does uncertainty over the expertise that will be needed. It is becoming increasingly difficult to predict the skills which organisations will need in the future, so reskilling has become more important. It doesn’t help that each new deployment of tech, is shifting the business down the digitised pathway and creates a new requirement for retraining.

Related: How to Cope With Instant Change at the Workplace

Employee training typically falls under HR’s role, which means HR must consider how technology might change their employees’ skillsets. They should give foresight to businesses to invest heavily in training today, realizing that it will drive a return on investment tomorrow.

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Here is a dire warning for business: If you don’t invest in upskilling, encourage reskilling and tech adoption, employees will go elsewhere.

  • Redesigning the employee’s experience at work

What exactly is employee experience? Denise Lee Yohn in a 2018 Forbes article tited 2018 Will Be the Year of Employee Experience said, “Since is the sum of all interactions a customer has with a company, then is the sum of everything an employee experiences throughout his or her connection to the organisation – every employee interaction, from the first contact as a potential recruit to the last interaction after the end of employment.”

Thus, employee experience must be fostered and sustained though the entire employee lifecycle. Today this has to be significantly improved if companies want to retain talent. Characteristically, Millenials and Generation Z would easily snap and leave if they don’t feel the company’s vibe. They live experientially. They attach great importance to user interface and want this extended to the workplace.

So, within this new paradigm, how do HR leaders create a compelling experience that meets the needs and expectations of the workforce? The employee experience should not limited to the technological interfaces alone but every facet of employee-employer interaction. What amounts to great experience for different employees will range from; meaningful work, culture, diversity, organisational leadership, human capital management, perks and parties, employer or employment branding, employee engagement et cetera.

But remember, just as important as what employee experience is, so is what it is not. HR professionals should purge their Companies to focus less on self-service and more on self-sufficiency. To get there, it is important to understand what the employee journey looks like to the employees themselves.

  • Rethinking the work environment, from physical to virtual

Gone are the days of showing up, getting work done, going home, and repeat. Today, work is flexible and collaborative and increasingly creative. Consider trends like remote work, video conferencing, cloud computing, and other innovative disruptions affecting physical spaces. Organisations are moving away from traditional office environments and toward spaces that mirror how we really work and live.

This changing nature of work is driving its transformation, from completing assigned tasks under direct supervision to intentional collaboration and engagement where innovation and productivity is driven. The days of going into an office and working in a cubicle are dwindling. Work schedules are changing for those who cannot work remotely, meaning the average workday isn’t 8am – 5pm. Sometimes it is 4pm – 12am or any other combination of hours conceived. 

It is paramount for HR to advice the management on human resource trends to pay attention to in 2020. On the possibilities afforded by digital transformation of workplaces than were available to previous generations. Thus, as organisations endeavour to encourage collaboration, improve engagement, and retain top talent, they may find that the answer lies not in their physical space but virtual space.


Stephanie Grace writes on better Human Resource practices and employee growth and development. Email:

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