4 Trends Changing the Way You Hire and Retain Talent in 2020

January 22, 2020

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If ever a year demanded acute vision, it’s this one, 2020.

This year will call for the kind of vision that allows talent professionals to see beyond the horizon, look around corners, and spot things the competition is missing. It’s a tall order, but you can do it (you already do) and we can help. 

We pulled out our microscopes, telescopes, and periscopes to see what the issues and challenges will be that most impact your work moving forward. The result? LinkedIn’s blockbuster new Global Talent Trends 2020 report, which sees these four ideas reshaping the way you’ll be attracting and retaining talent in the coming years: the emergence of employee experience, the spread of people analytics, the return of internal recruiting, and the ascent of the multigenerational workforce.

These four trends do not displace other significant currents, such as the rise of AI, the importance of diversity and inclusion, or the critical need for soft skills, that have been looked at in earlier versions of our annual report. Instead, this year’s roundup points to the way these newer trends will interplay with the older ones, fine-tuning them in some cases and transforming them in others. As well, this year’s trends are all defined in some measure by their demand for empathy — the ability to understand and share the feelings of others.

The report highlights fresh research from a global survey of 7,000 talent professionals and billions of data points on LinkedIn, plus perspectives from industry leaders and lessons from companies, such as AT&T, McKinsey, and Estée Lauder, that have anticipated these trends.

Trend #1: Employee experience — Your company will work for employees, not just the other way around

The employee experience is everything an employee observes, feels, and interacts with as a part of their company. It represents a wider view of the traditional human resource function, and empathy is at its core. The central idea is to actively collaborate with employees to understand their point of view and design experiences that allow people to do their best work.

  • Stastic from the Global Talent Trends 2020 report:  96% of talent professionals say employee experience is becoming more important.

EX — shorthand for employee experience — requires thinking holistically about everything an employee goes through. That includes conventional HR tasks like  performance management, learning, and compensation. But the wider field also includes much more — from real estate decisions to technology choices. 

An easy way to think about everything included in EX is the framework of the four P’s: 

  • People — relationships with colleagues and customers
  • Place — physical environments, whether in an office or remote
  • Product — the work itself
  • Process — rules and tools

EX is not the same as employee engagement, though engaged employees are a key outcome of a better employee experience. Companies say they’re investing in EX to increase employee retention and productivity as well as meet the high expectations of younger workers and attract more job candidates.

But while the focus on EX is skyrocketing, only 52% of talent professionals say their company provides a positive employee experience. They see room for improvement in compensation and benefits, administrative processes, open and effective management, training, culture, and other areas.

Clearly, innovative approaches are called for, including new ways to measure employee experience, simpler tools, and possibly even a complete rethinking of traditional HR operations. The full report walks you through tips and case studies from companies around the globe.

Trend #2: People analytics — Meaningful insights will inform talent decisions at every level 

People analytics connects data to effective decision-making. It draws insights from human behavior to help people and companies perform better. It uses formal scientific methods to support empathy.

Sophisticated organizations have been using this relatively new field to drive powerful innovations. Now those benefits are clear enough to inspire even small companies to hop on board, and 73% of talent professionals say people analytics will be a major priority for their company over the next five years.

If you are a talent professional, you’re probably already aware that people analytics is on the rise and you’ve taken steps to gather relevant knowledge. In the past five years, LinkedIn has seen a 242% increase in HR professionals with data analysis skills. 

Still, many companies are only at the early stages of developing people analytics functions. There’s a steep learning curve from initial efforts to collect data in an organized way to capitalizing on insights for competitive advantage. 

One cautionary note as companies race to develop people analytics projects and functions: It’s critically important to be careful with people data. Experts recommend treating employees as stakeholders as you develop thoughtful and transparent policies. 

The full report contains tips for handling data as well as case studies and three guides to help your organization develop its people analytics efforts.

Trend #3: Internal recruiting — Your next hire will come from within your company, if you can find them

In an increasingly tight talent market, organizations are rediscovering the benefits of internal hiring. And they’re using empathy to better understand how employees want to learn and grow.

The trend echoes an earlier era when companies filled open roles by promoting their own people, and employees could follow a lifelong career path within a single firm. That approach — with updated thinking and tools — is making a gradual comeback. Role changes within organizations (via promotion, transfer, or lateral move) have increased by 10% over the last five years, according to LinkedIn data.

In helping employees find rewarding new roles inside your company, you boost morale and entice good people to stick around. The financial impact can be enormous. A 2018 Gartner study found the cost of employee turnover due to lack of career opportunities for an average-size company is $49 million per year.

The puzzling news is that few companies have organized any strategic processes to guide internal recruiting. Most internal moves are still directed by employees or individual managers who actively make their own connections. 

Almost two-thirds of talent professionals acknowledge that their company needs to improve internal recruiting. But it’s easy to underestimate the scope of the required change. Developing a robust program requires an extensive cultural shift to overcome big hurdles.

The idea that hiring from within makes it harder to diversify your workforce deserves careful thought. Companies that lack formal internal recruiting programs may find it harder to retain a diverse workforce. That’s because when internal hiring happens without structure, people are more likely to rely on personal networks, often reflecting existing biases.

The full report offers tips to improve internal recruiting as well as case studies from companies that are investing in internal skill-building, leadership programs, and new tools to empower their people.

Trend #4: Multigenerational workforce — From Gen Z to Baby Boomers and beyond, good talent will prove ageless

The 2020s represent a new chapter in workforce age diversity driven by demographic changes. People are living longer and Generation Z (age 23 and younger) is hitting the job market.

Some companies are set to capitalize on this trend. They’re using empathy to understand how teams with a wide variety of life experiences and perspectives can be most successful. To attract and retain talent from all ages, they’re carving out new career paths, introducing more flexible benefits, and finding new ways for generations to share intelligence.

  • Statistic from the Global Talent Trends 2020 report:  89% of talent professionals say a multigenerational workforce makes a company more successful.

All in all, the generations share more similarities than differences. Everyone values good compensation and benefits, work-life balance, and a positive work culture. But there are some subtle overarching trends worth noting.

Contrary to some popular perceptions, Baby Boomers (age 55 to 73) put the highest priority on working for a company with a purposeful mission. Gen Z, meanwhile, is most likely to value training — 36% call it a top factor when considering a new job.

Unfortunately, workplace power dynamics can result in generational bickering and resentment. Often these disputes are tied to who makes decisions, not differences in outlook based on age, but they play out as young vs. old.

Inclusive leaders and companies can help employees move past conflict by promoting respect and collaboration. Clear, solution-oriented conversations are especially important in a few common conflict areas — management, work-life balance, and communication

Download the full report to find ideas for fostering positive generational collaboration, as well as information on how companies plan to recruit and retain an age-diverse workforce. You’ll also find case studies on how companies are harnessing age diversity as a strategic advantage.

Final thoughts

Understanding how these four trends are changing HR and hiring will help you stay competitive in 2020 and beyond. And empathy is the superpower that will help you find the most value amid transformation.

LinkedIn’s 2020 Global Talent Trends Report is here to support your growth and evolution. Use its insights to reflect on your own best path toward these goals:

  • Improve employee experience by walking inside your colleagues’ shoes
  • Harness data for better decisions about people
  • Empower talent that’s already inside your organization
  • Build diverse teams that draw strength from understanding the feelings of others

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