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2019 Global Human Capital Trends

Leading the social enterprise—Reinvent with a human focus

In last year’s Human Capital Trends Survey we saw the rise of “the social enterprise”. This is an organisation that combines its profit and growth with a focus on a positive and sustainable impact. This year, the survey reveals an extension of the concept of a Social Enterprise and sheds light on the importance of reinventing human capital processes - bringing meaning back into work using a humanistic focus, and helping individuals to understand their identity in the workforce.
Intensifying economic, social, and political disruption are forcing organisations to move beyond mission statements and social impact programs to putting humans at the centre of their business strategies. To reinvent with a human focus to benchmark and measure business decisions against their effect on people. So what are the 2019 Human Capital Trends? And how can UK businesses ensure they are prepared to respond to these challenges and also take advantage of the opportunities the Trends present? Explore our UK report to find out more.

Our global survey generated responses from more than 9,400 business and HR leaders across 119 countries, and revealed 10 Human Capital Trends for 2019, categorised into three actionable areas:

The first deals with the future of the workforce: how organisations should adapt to the forces restructuring job and work design, the open talent economy, and leadership.

The second deals with the future of the organisation: how teams, networks, and new approaches to rewards are driving business performance.

And the third deals with the future of HR: how the function is stepping up to the challenge of redesigning its capabilities, technologies, and focus to lead transformation in HR and across the enterprise.

Introducing the 2019 Human Capital Trends

The future of the workforce

The alternative workforce: It’s now mainstream.

For many years, people viewed contract, freelance, and gig employment as “alternative work,” options considered supplementary to full-time jobs. Today, this segment of the workforce has gone mainstream, and it needs to be managed strategically. Given growing skills shortages and the low birth rate in many countries, leveraging and managing “alternative” workforces will become essential to business growth in the years ahead. Read the chapter

From jobs to superjobs.

The use of artificial intelligence (AI), cognitive technologies, and robotics to automate and augment work is on the rise, prompting the redesign of jobs in a growing number of domains. The jobs of today are more machine-powered and data-driven than in the past, and they also require more human skills in problem-solving, communication, interpretation, and design. As machines take over repeatable tasks and the work people do becomes less routine, many jobs will rapidly evolve into what we call “superjobs”—the newest job category that changes the landscape of how organisations think about work. Read the chapter

Leadership for the 21st century: The intersection of the traditional and the new.

In a world of disruptive digital business models, augmented workforces, flattened organisations, and an ongoing shift to team-based work practices, organisations are challenging their leaders to step up and show the way forward. CEOs are being pressured to take a position on social issues; C-suite executives are being asked to work more collaboratively across functions; line leaders must learn to operate in networks of teams. But our research shows that while organisations expect new leadership capabilities, they are still largely promoting traditional models and mindsets—when they should be developing skills and measuring leadership in ways that help leaders effectively navigate greater ambiguity, take charge of rapid change, and engage with external and internal stakeholders. Read the chapter

The future of the organisation

From employee experience to human experience: Putting meaning back into work.

Organisations are investing in many programs to improve life at work, all focused on improving the day-to-day experience workers have. While there is much that can be done to improve work/life balance, research shows that the most important factor of all is the work itself: making work meaningful and giving people a sense of belonging, trust, and relationship. We believe organisations should move beyond thinking about experience at work in terms of perks, rewards, or support, and focus on job fit, job design, and meaning—for all workers across the enterprise. Read the chapter

Organisational performance: It’s a team sport.

The shift from hierarchies to cross-functional teams is well underway. Our data shows that adopting team structures improves organisational performance for those that have made the journey; organisations that have not risk falling further behind. These organisations can look at several ways to drive progress, such as educating leaders on how to operate in cross-functional teams and reconfiguring rewards and performance management to support team performance. Read the chapter

Rewards: Closing the gap.

Rewards programs are falling behind both internal and external expectations. For workers, rewards mean more than money. They are looking for personalized rewards that meet their needs—and yet most organisations have been guessing and don’t know what their people want or value. Meanwhile, rising social pressures on organisations, driven in part by disparities in wealth and the gains from economic growth, mean more organisations need to account for how their own pay and rewards systems stack up against broader worker and societal expectations. In the domains of learning, leadership, teams, and career development, rewards have to be adjusted to drive the desired outcomes. There are gaps and growing frustrations across the board. Read the chapter

The future of HR


Accessing talent: It’s more than acquisitions.

During the last decade of economic expansion, organisations have focused on finding the right talent to drive business growth. But with record-low unemployment rates and skills shortages in many technical areas, recruiting has gotten harder, leading to an escalating war of employment brands, recruitment marketing campaigns, and artificial intelligence (AI)-driven tools to deliver recruiting excellence. In 2019 and 2020, as the economy is likely to slow, we think a new approach is needed. Rather than automatically opening a job requisition when a manager needs a role filled, it’s time to think about how organisations can continuously “access talent” in varying ways: mobilizing internal resources, finding people in the alternative workforce, and strategically leveraging technology to augment sourcing and boost recruiting productivity. Read the chapter

Learning in the flow of life.

Learning is the top-rated challenge among 2019’s Global Human Capital Trends. People now rate the “opportunity to learn” as among their top reasons for taking a job, and business leaders know that changes in technology, longevity, work practices, and business models have created a tremendous demand for continuous, lifelong development. Leading organisations are taking steps to deliver learning to their people in a more personal way, integrating work and learning more tightly with each other, extending ownership for learning beyond the HR organisation, and looking for ways to bring solutions we use in our daily lives into the learning environment at work. Read the chapter

Talent mobility: Winning the war on the home front.

Organisations have historically focused on external recruiting to find people for new roles, but with growing skill shortages and low unemployment rates, they are now finding that acquisition alone isn’t enough to access the capabilities they need. To fuel growth, organisations need to more effectively tap their current workforce to identify and deploy people with the required skills, capabilities, motivation, and knowledge of the organisation, its infrastructure, and its culture. Creating better programs to facilitate internal mobility can pay off in multiple areas: growth, employee engagement, and business performance. Read the chapter

HR cloud: A launch pad, not a destination.

Over the last few years, significant progress has been made in HR’s move to the cloud. But although cloud computing platforms have, in general, been wildly successful, many vendors have had challenges keeping up with innovative talent management practices, driving organisations to adopt best-of-breed solutions to fill the gaps. In addition, many of the organisations adopting cloud-based human capital management (HCM) systems are not placing enough emphasis on complementary transformational activities such as redesigning their operating model, data architecture, and user experience. This is leading to technology implementations that are not delivering their full potential. Nonetheless, cloud-based HCM is establishing a foundation for change and innovation, enabling organisations to shift their energies toward more pressing challenges. Read the chapter

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