The 2020 Workplace is here! The workplace I described in my book, The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop, and Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today, is now distinguished by a workplace where the rapid pace of change is the new constant in the world of work!
As we head into the 2020 workplace, ask yourself: how can you lead your HR function in the next decade?
Humans + Bots
Shutterstock / Panuwat Phimpha
Here is my countdown of what you need to include on your HR agenda for the 2020 workplace:
#1) Start With Focusing On Worker Wellbeing
Many companies concerned about the future of work focus on the massive disruption of jobs, automation, and workforce demographics. All of this is important but as HR leaders we need to start with making worker wellbeing a priority in 2020!
Michael Fenlon, Chief People Officer of PwC, shares why this is growing in importance, “As HR leaders worker wellbeing is impacted by several macro trends such as the growth of the digital economy and the increased need to develop resilience while we are being bombarded by constant social media notifications. We decided as a firm it was time to study this and take action.” PwC conducted a comprehensive study among their global workforce with University of Southern California (USC) to explore this in depth.
First, PwC defined worker wellbeing in a holistic way, including physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual lenses. Then PwC team set out to identify specific practices that can improve wellbeing. This makes wellbeing tangible rather than an abstract concept. These habits are identified in the PwC Habit Bank and range from reminding employees to stand up for short meetings, wind down prior to sleep, make time to be outside with nature, turn off smartphone notifications, and decide what “not” to do as well as what to “focus” on!
PwC created a technology platform that integrates all of this called Be Well, Work Well and it is a one-stop-shop for all things wellbeing.
But just providing the information on wellbeing isn’t enough. According to Fenlon, “The real power lies in creating a wellbeing culture, making a commitment to wellbeing at the individual, team, and organizational levels and equipping employees with technology that promotes wellbeing behaviors.” This is just the advice we need as we craft our HR agenda for the 2020 workplace!
#2) Prepare for Humans + Bots as The New Blended Workforce
When we think of the blended workforce we often think of full-time workers working side by side with contract and gig workers. In 2020 when we refer to the “blended workforce,” we mean humans and bots working together.
Research among 8,370 global HR leaders, hiring managers and employees conducted by Oracle and Future Workplace found that half (50%) of workers already use some form of A.I. at work, up from 32% in 2018. As Gartner predicts, by 2021 25% of workers will use a virtual employee assistant (VEA) daily, an increase from less than 2% in 2019. This includes Amazon Alexa for Business and an array of conversational bots used for all types of HR processes.
Knowing how to orient, develop, engage, and work side by side with a bot will be the newest skill set for 2020, as human and bot teams will work together and, in many cases, outperform either humans or bots working on their own! How you orient, develop and engage your blended workforce in 2020 will be your competitive advantage.
DBS Bank, the largest bank in Southeast Asia was an early adopter to using a chatbot for recruiting high-volume jobs in the consumer bank.
- shorten the screening time from 32 minutes per candidate to 8 minutes per candidate
- improve completion rate of job application from 85% to 97% and
- respond to 96% of all candidate queries.
This allowed DBS recruiters to perform higher-value work such as sourcing, recruitment marketing, and engaging with candidates, and it even inspired them to create a new job role: Chatbot Coach training the chatbot with the latest information to answer candidates’ queries.
#3) Look for New Use Cases of AI 4 HR
Artificial intelligence is being used in talent acquisition at both L’Oreal and Hilton Hotels to deliver significant results increasing speed to hire and allowing recruiters to assume more strategic roles. It’s time in 2020 to expand AI to other HR processes. The range of new use cases includes Schneider Electric’s launch of an AI powered internal talent mobility platform, Open Talent Market, and DaVita’s pilot of an AI powered tool to report misconduct in the workplace.
Andrew Saidy, vice president of talent digitization for Schneider Electric sees the Open Talent Market as a one stop career development and mobility platform where employees can build a profile, see the range of jobs that fit their desires, explore new career possibilities, and even connect to a mentor to prepare for a future role. Saidy believes that “AI-powered career development is now the expectation of candidates as they assess career growth and mobility opportunities at a prospective employer.”
Sexual harassment exposed by the #metoo movement led to the development of another new application of AI at work: an AI powered platform to report sexual misconduct in the workplace. According to Jeff Rieb, Senior Director, People Operations & Innovation, DaVita, “One of the many benefits of using an AI Bot to report discriminatory behavior is while employees want to report these events, they are reluctant to do so out of fear of retaliation. But reporting the incidence to a conversational bot results in a time stamped report of the information they can either send to their employer (anonymously) or hold on to for potential reporting at another time.”
Look for more leading-edge use cases of AI for HR in 2020 to power every aspect of the employee life cycle.
#4) Focus On Building Ethical AI
As we move into 2020, a key issue for companies will be to use AI in an ethical and responsible manner and prove it. AI vendors and companies using AI platforms may be subjected to requirements similar to safety checks now conducted on automobiles. Conducting AI audits and testing for unequal outcomes across gender, race, and age will start to be commonplace.
Consider California’s Bot Transparency bill which went into effect July 1, 2019 requiring firms to disclose when a bot rather than a human is answering questions online. This is followed by a new Illinois bill which sets new rules for using AI for video interviews and goes into effect January 1, 2020 requiring employers to tell candidates they are using AI to analyze video interviews before asking them to record and submit an interview.
Beyond understanding these emerging laws, HR leaders must be prepared for issues related to employee data privacy. In the Oracle and Future Workplace research, AI @ Work, conducted among 8,370 global HR leaders, employees and managers 80% of employees shared their company should ask permission before gathering data on them using AI and 71% said they are at least sometimes concerned that there will be more data security breaches as companies use AI in the workplace.
There is a new competency for HR: understanding how to build ethical and responsible AI.
#5) Consider Soft Skills to Be Power Skills In 2020
As more routine tasks are taken over by AI in the workplace, as depicted in McKinsey’s Global Institute report, Jobs Lots and Jobs Gained, The Workforce in a time of Transition there will be an increased need for workers to hone their “soft skills,” or what I have called “power skills” in the chapter I wrote for the Federal Reserve publication, Navigating the Future Workplace: The New Power Skills for Jobs of the Future. These include a combination of soft skills, thinking skills, and digital skills. Taken together, these skills are the new expectation for employability in 2020 and beyond.
These power skills are growing in importance and acknowledge how most jobs are being disrupted at the same time our expertise has a shorter shelf life. The secret sauce to attracting and developing the next generation will be to develop these power skills. This is what Ravi Kumar, President, Infosys, is pioneering as Infosys is recruiting for technical talent at Rhode Island School of Design and Trinity College Liberal Arts. then training them in the hard skills they need to be successful in technical roles. Ravi Kumar says, “We are focusing on recruiting individuals with learnability and aptitude to operate at the intersection of design, technology, and industry, and not just recruiting them for their current credentials.”
#6) Audit Your Workplace Environment for Physical, Emotional, and Environmental Attributes
When you think about creating a healthy workplace environment, you probably think of fitness centers, standing desks, or even meditation rooms. These are just some of the workplace benefits that make up the $3.6 million spent on workplace wellness in 2019. But is any of it paying off?
Surprisingly, we found employees want the basics first: better air quality, access to natural light, and the ability to personalize their workspace. Half of the employees we surveyed said poor air quality makes them sleepier during the day, and more than a third reported up to an hour in lost productivity as a result.
After conducting this research, we recommend heads of HR partner with Real Estate and Facilities leaders to take a holistic view of their workplace environment including defining workplace wellness as physical wellness, emotional wellness, and environmental wellness, then conduct an audit to determine how to improve all aspects of the workplace environment. You might even conduct this audit during the open enrollment period when employees are already thinking about their health and wellbeing for the coming year!
#7) Explore Virtual Reality for Corporate Training
Virtual Reality (VR) may not have reached its potential in the consumer market yet, but it is growing in corporate training. According to ABI Research: the VR training market will reach $6.3B by 2022.
Leaders in this market, Strivr and Mursion, are offering VR solutions for a range of training as diverse as safety training, customer service training, leadership development, and re-inventing the employee experience. And research is showing that immersive learning is able to facilitate behavior change in developing new skills in the workplace.
For example, Verizon has been using VR to train store managers and their team on how to handle a potential store robbery. VR allows store managers to practice the nuances of proper response in a potential robbery.
When the Verizon store managers were surveyed, 95% said they better understood the factors they would need to consider during an actual burglary attempt than when using traditional types of training.
Derek Belch, CEO of Strivr believes,” the future of using VR in the workplace will move beyond distinct use cases like Verizon store operations to be the next generation of corporate training. VR is ideally suited for this because it delivers higher knowledge retention, increase engagement, and allows for practice before being in the situation.”
Using VR for soft skills how Mursion is helping develop problem solving resolution skills among front desk employees at Best Western Hotels. To date, the results have been impressive, with Best Western hotels experiencing an average of 2-5% gains in post-guest satisfaction ratings and strong gains in problem solving resolution training. According to Mark Atkinson, CEO of Mursion, “The big opportunity to use VR going forward is in the area of soft skills development. When we think about the skills employers need for the workforce of the future, it’s skills like building empathy, handling conflict, and having difficult conversations with both co-workers and customers. VR provides workers with the opportunity to perform at their best in their moment of need.”
#8) Re-Define Blended Learning To Include On Demand Coaching
Most coaching solutions are expensive, time consuming, and reserved for top leaders. In 2020, this seems out of sync with how we work and the changing demographics of the workforce where Millennials and Gen Z now make up more than 60% of global workers.
Mars, Incorporated, the global food, petcare, and confectionery company, felt that established approaches no longer met the needs of their modern learners, or the increasing size, scale, and diversity of their company. Traditionally at Mars, leadership training was conducted in a classroom and reached under half of first-time leaders globally. This approach limited accessibility and was inconsistent with Mars’s egalitarian culture and principles.
In 2019, Summer Davies and the Mars University team reinvented the organizations new people leader training program by launching a fully virtual development program called Great Line Management Experience, or GLMe. GLMe combines digitally delivered content supported by on-demand, personalized coaching.
The solution created by Mars University was blending virtually delivered leadership development training with an on-demand coaching experience from BetterUp that is convenient, accessible, and impactful while meeting the needs of Mars’s evolving workforce.
To date, more than 2,000 new leaders have participated in the program. The design has given new meaning to “blended learning,” which no longer means combining inherently limited face-to-face training with online training but is now democratized to include on-demand coaching as well.
#9) Recruit for Skills Rather Than College Pedigree
More companies are piloting skills based hiring, or the practice of setting specific skills and competency requirements for a job rather than only looking at a candidate’s credentials. Many companies realize they need to tap into new sources and relax some of the requirements they held in the past to find candidates for open positions. According to GlassDoor, companies as varied as Apple, Bank of America, Google, and Nordstrom will now consider and hire candidates without a college degree as a requirement.
Research conducted by Wiley Educational Services and Future Workplace with 600 HR Leaders found the majority of companies are open to hiring “non-traditional workers.” More than half (53%) would hire someone with some college coursework but no degree, or a person who had not attended college but earned industry certification (52%), while only 10% said they would not hire someone who didn’t have a college degree. (Wiley/Future Workplace Study).
In addition to sourcing non-traditional candidates outside of four year colleges, companies are expanding their recruiting channels to include boot camps, company sponsored Hackathons, apprenticeships, and partnerships with community based organizations like LRGN offering training in cities across the US to close local skills gap.
One company that is making progress in sourcing non-traditional talent is The Hartford, which created an apprenticeship program developed in partnership with Connecticut Department of Labor, Capital Community College, and Rio Salado College. The objective is to develop an auto insurance specific curriculum and paid on-the-job training to equip students for key customer-facing roles in The Hartford’s claims operation. Mark Wagner, Vice President of Learning at The Hartford, says, “We are actually going one step beyond the apprenticeships to offering coaching and mentoring to enable success of these new hires.”
#10) Make Your Workplace Experience A Top Priority
In my book, The Future Workplace Experience, “the last best experience anyone has anywhere becomes their minimum expectation for the type of experiences they want everywhere, and especially in the workplace.” Workplace experience is the application of user experience to the workplace, re-imagining the physical, digital, and cultural aspects of work. This “employee as customer mindset” requires a total re-thinking of the moments that matter to segments of employees – those starting their first day on the job to those exiting the organization. Work needs to be as friction less, digital, and personalized as the rest of our lives.
HR leaders at companies ranging from IBM Airbnb to HP are executing on this by forming cross functional teams of HR, Real Estate, and IT and developing a shared vision to identify moments that matter to various segments of workers. As Diane Gherson, CHRO of IBM says,” Our job in HR is to create that connected, transparent, mobile, personalized, searchable and 24×7 universe through our workplace and our tools.” This means creating an employee experience which mirrors our best customer experience! As the workplace experience becomes more of a priority we will see more HR leaders creating personalized employee experiences!
So what’s on your HR agenda? Let’s start a discussion on what needs to be on your HR agenda!