The future of HR: four trends to keep an eye on in 2020

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A couple of weeks ago, we attended HR Innovation Forum, an event aimed at shifting mindsets and inspiring action towards disruptive HR and L&D solutions. We were excited to have Alexandra Copos de Prada, our founder and CEO, take the stage and discuss about the future of HR. Her main points revolved around boosting creativity and driving behavioral change through development designed for a busy workforce.

Alexandra Copos de Prada, founder & CEO Moonstar

The event started on a bold note, with the first speaker noting that “Dealing with disruption means constantly adapting to change. It’s an ongoing process of learning, unlearning and relearning.” So the main question on everyone’s lips was: How can we help our employees adapt to change and embrace disruption? Whether it’s new technologies or new ways of working, HR needs to establish a new standard of doing things and deliver on it consistently.

Below, we summed up for you some of the disruptors in the space. Are you already thinking how you can tackle them in your organization to maintain your competitive edge? If not, perhaps it’s time to start.


1.Recognize the benefits of flexibility and embrace it

We used to think of work flexibility, mainly the ability to work remotely, as an uncommon perk. Today, it morphs into an expectation, with 50% of the US and UK workforce predicted to work remotely by 2020. What’s more, according to a 2019 survey by Owl Labs, 55% of employees said they would likely look for another job if they no longer had the benefit of flexible work.

Why this upward trend? There are three main drives behind remote work: reduced stress, time saved on commute and increased productivity. Not having a “regular” office means that employees can work when they are most productive. What’s more, they don’t have to worry about office distractions or frustrating politics. These advantages, coupled with the time saved by not commuting, give employees extra time to dedicate to their goals, thus generating valuable output faster.

For companies…

…money saved on rent is just the tip of the iceberg. Consider the following example. Ctrip, China’s largest travel agency, was interested in going remote, so it partnered with Stanford Business School Professor Nicholas Bloom to study whether it was a viable strategy. Professor Bloom divided volunteers into two groups: one that worked remotely for nine months, coming into the office one day per week, and one that worked on-site all week. After following these groups for two years, Bloom discovered a 13% increase in performance in the group of remote employees.

Matt Mullenweg, CEO of Automattic, believes that remote work is more than a feel-good perk. With a company counting 800 employees in 67 countries, he underlines a compelling idea for the future of HR. Flexibility means autonomy and is all about empowering your employees to be self-sustaining and responsible for their outputs. In his own words: “If you fast forward a decade or two, I predict that 90% of the companies that are going to change the world are going to function this way.”


2. Cater to the employees that need your help the most

We currently have four generations co-existing in the workplace. While most companies focus on Millennials and Gen Z, Baby Boomers often get left behind. With new technologies emerging faster than ever, these employees can have a hard time adapting. A common misconception is that they don’t have the same interest or speed in learning. The reality? They simply feel overwhelmed by these rapid advancements. Considering this, HR’s challenge is to create a safe environment for Baby Boomers to get acquainted with technology.

One of the best ways to do that is through reverse mentoring, a process that involves all generations in the conversation. It does so by encouraging knowledge to flow both ways: from older to young and from young to older. Take the example of Barclays UK.

Aaron Levie discussing the future of hr with hand in the air

Aaron Levie, Box CEO

The company has a Bolder Apprenticeship program for employees over 50 who want to learn about new technologies. Who are the trainers? Their younger, tech-savvy colleagues. This type of partnership benefits everyone. Baby Boomers expand their knowledge and stay relevant in their field, while Millennials and Gen Z develop their expertise by teaching others.

While catering to different needs is certainly demanding, having a multigenerational workforce is an asset. Aaron Levie, the co-founder and CEO of Box, believes that bringing together young and more experienced employees creates a healthy dynamic that benefits the organization. In his own words:

You always want to be able to have that kind of tension, where you have people that have seen it before and you have some new and fresh ideas, and you’re trying to blend those together – that’s when you get real disruptive innovation.”  


3. Perceive technology as an asset, not a hindrance

According to Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends report, 72% of managers say that automation is important for the future of HR, but only 31% believe that their companies are prepared to implement emerging technologies.

The future of HR will bring automation of repetitive tasks that can be better performed by AI. What technologies will make HR professionals’ lives easier? Many screening applications have been developed recently, cutting the time spent reading CVs in minutes. Chatbots are becoming interviewers, asking questions, commenting and assessing interviews within minutes of completion. AR and VR are increasingly being used in compliance and technical training as valuable tools for effective learning in a risk-free environment.

Digitalizing these tasks means that HR professionals will have more time and resources to act as strategic partners and give the organization a competitive edge. Their new focus will be shaping the company’s culture, delivering impactful learning and building a strong employer brand.


4. Keep employee experience top of mind

Glassdoor and similar sites have changed the face of business. By allowing employees to rate their employers, they have shone a spotlight on the experience of working for a company.

What does this mean for the future of HR? Professionals will need to focus on building a stronger employer brand, an essential feature to attract and retain top talent. While office pantries with specialty coffee do count, they will be trumped by the company’s ability to provide personalized experiences. These can refer to offering training based on specific learning needs or tailoring career progression plans to employees’ aspirations. And let’s not forget about the universal desire (from Baby Boomers to Gen Z) to engage in meaningful work.

HubSpot, a marketing software company, is a great example of an employee-oriented business. Some of the perks it offers? The possibility to work remotely and unlimited vacation time. Easy access to the executive team, who works alongside everybody and not in isolation. A dedicated individual training budget each year to learn new skills (be them Java or Japanese). Perhaps the biggest recognition of HubSpot’s employer brand is the fact that its co-founder, Brian Halligan, has been included in Glassdoor’s top 10 highest-rated CEOs three times!


Final thoughts

The future of HR challenges professionals to balance both high tech and human touch. How can they juggle these two constructs? By taking advantage of all that technology has to offer while keeping the human experience top of mind. In this way, HR can extend its scope as a strategic business partner and design a safe environment for employees to adapt, and ultimately, to thrive.

If you want to build this future within your company, Moonstar’s Learning Experience Platform and its digital learning content crafted for impact will help you deliver truly engaging learning experiences. With Moonstar, you can take the first steps towards establishing a strong employer brand, attracting and retaining top talent and reskilling your existing workforce.