The workforce management think tank, Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated has released its annual predictions of the top trends that will impact the global workforce in the coming year.
1) AI and machine learning unmask previously hidden workforce data to make people-centric decisions
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning will finally be woven into workforce management practices, revealing a treasure trove of data organisations have been collecting – but not using – for decades. With regular and digestible access to workforce data trends – like scheduling accuracy, absenteeism, overtime usage, and burnout – predictive analytics will shine, helping organisations head-off potential issues before they arise. Intelligent automation will also free up managers from admin-heavy tasks – like managing schedules, approving time-off requests, and shift changes – while encouraging data-driven decision-making to provide clarity between what is equal versus what is fair. Though, to harness analytical insights to make accurate, actionable decisions for specific employee and business goals, organisations must avoid a “one-size-fits-all” model.
2) Historically tight labour markets and emerging technologies put people managers in the spotlight
With unemployment low and the exodus of baby boomers reaching critical mass, employers globally will face a historically tight labour market. Sourcing great candidates has never been more difficult, and retention will become an all-out dogfight. While an employer’s brand, innovative hiring technologies and proactive recruiting practices are more important than ever, it’s organisations with the best people managers that will ultimately prevail. Organisations will place an increased focus on leadership development as a retention strategy – especially as millennials flock to middle management – and measuring manager effectiveness will be HR’s top challenge in 2019. Additionally, as AI and machine learning take over mundane managerial tasks, freeing up managers to spend more time with their people, deficits in leadership competencies will be exposed as management expectations continue to shift from a historical command-and-control model to a horizontal style that considers all perspectives and seeks innovative ways to inspire, develop, grow, and keep the top talent that drives business value.
3) The changing face of education redefines trades and challenges traditional hiring practices
As the student loan debt crisis furthers the debate about the value of a university education and programmes for job-specific skills emerge, tomorrow’s best employees may take an unconventional path to employment. Competencies that once required a degree – such as coding, robotics, and data analytics – are being redefined as skilled trades with the rise of certificate and micro-credential programmes. Also, as yesterday’s jobs become augmented by automation, new skills will be required for traditionally “blue-collar” roles. Employers must revamp their hiring profiles and remove traditional job requirements to tap into this new pool of qualified candidates who will staff the shop floor, store floor, hospital floor, and top floor of the future. And, as millennials become parents, many will likely urge their school-aged children to take an alternative educational path for a brighter financial future.
4) Further fracturing of employment laws globally, nationally, and at the local level strain organisations
From minimum wage to sick pay, to fair scheduling proposals to the right to disconnect, governments around the world will continue localising – and repealing – employment laws. Ever-changing regulations around the world will put increased strain on organisations to avoid sanctions, fines, crippling class action lawsuits, and reputation-damaging stories. Technology will be vital for organisations to manage scheduling-related mandates, ensure unbiased practices, monitor fatigue and overtime management, and ensure employees are paid accurately and fairly – all while providing analytical insights that surface risky managerial practices otherwise buried in a sea of employment data.
5) Employee-agnostic flexibility, consumer-grade tech, and the rise of the occasional time worker redefine “work your way”
All employees – salaried, hourly, and gig – crave control over when, where, and how they work. While employers have put more focus on flexibility and alternative work schedules, most have been slow to reengineer processes that underpin how the organisation runs. Tools must meet employees where they naturally work – such as on their mobile phone, tablet, or favourite social networking platforms. The gig economy and emergence of the “occasional-time worker” will force organisations to replace traditional hiring and scheduling processes with systems that enable workers to choose when, where, and how long they work. Mobile-friendly processes, self-service features, and immediate access to real-time data in a consumer-grade technology wrapper will help drive the next iteration of the flexibility phenomenon, as predictability of anytime work will empower employees to be more productive, make more intelligent decisions, and be more engaged.
6) Greater emphasis on disaster preparedness as part of a holistic human capital management strategy
Disasters large and small, natural and man-made, have unfortunately become the norm. Organisations worldwide have been challenged to respond effectively to increasingly frequent crises, with HR, operations, and payroll forced to take centre stage in the lives of affected employees. With more emphasis on company culture, caring, and “doing what’s right” in a world where disasters – and a company’s response to them – are frequently in the news, there is a new level of expectation for an organisation’s response, responsibility, and employee benefits. Organisations of all sizes must take a hard look at disaster policies, processes, and capabilities – including both taking care of employees in the moment and rebuilding in the wake of disaster, which will be near impossible for those operating on a DIY workforce management, HR, and payroll system. Sustainability plans that today primarily account for company assets and data will need to incorporate employees and their families.