Ladies and gents, we have good news - there are some very exciting workplace trends afoot at the moment; stuff that bodes all kinds of well for employees, employers and HR professionals around the globe.
These common denominators form the basis of the success of companies like Microsoft, Vodacom Group Limited, Accenture (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd and the rest of the stellar businesses that have been named as Africa's Top Employers for 2020 by the Top Employers Institute.
Far more so than certain other trends that seem to be a thing this year, such as teenage vaping (no, you guys, just no), Crocs that look and smell like fried chicken (not even kidding, check it out), and all of the stuff happening with Billie Eilish’s red carpet looks recently (big up for individuality and non-sexualised looks, but what is up with those can’t-do-anything-that-requires-actual-working-fingers artificial nails, girl?!).
But we digress - back to the YAYness that’s been cropping up in global workplace trends of late. Let’s jump right in, shall we? Here are the 10 Workplace trends unfolding in 2020:
1. Leveraging the benefits of AI
Despite what the Terminator franchise would have us believe, a partnership between robots and humans is completely possible, especially in the workplace. While HR takes care of the humans, IT will oversee the management of robotic and AI elements, and these departments will have to work in collaboration to ensure that the human experience is managed to optimal effect. Already, we see robots contributing to the functioning of companies like Amazon, where they pick orders; the automotive industry, agriculture, hospitality (automated cocktail maker anyone), and so much more.
2. Allowing employees more flexibility
Work-life balance is far more than just a trendy buzzword; it's an absolute necessity if you want your employees to be happy, healthy and fully engaged. As such, flexible work schedules remain a major trend for the year ahead, with forward-thinking businesses making provision for remote working and flexi hours, where possible, so that employees have the ability to take care of their life admin so they can be 100% focused when they clock into work.
3. Standing firm on social issues
If your business wants to attract top talent from the Millennial and Gen Z pool, taking a stand on social issues (e.g. climate change, immigration, civil rights, racial discrimination, gender inequality, poverty, etc.) will become a necessity. Employees from these generations want to work for companies that are known to have a positive impact on the community and the world at large.
4. Getting serious about diversity and inclusion
Diversity and inclusion remains a very important focal point for the year ahead. A varied workforce that includes individuals from a variety of racial groups, backgrounds, ages and experience levels not only serves to address operational challenges from multiple viewpoints, it also makes a company more attractive for investors, as well as drawing in top talent. It's a win-win all around.
5. Promoting mental health
More and more businesses are opening the lines of communication to allow their employees to speak freely about mental health and how it affects their wellbeing. While some workers may suffer from a mental illness themselves, others may be affected by it via a parent or child. When these circumstances are treated with the same level of empathy as other bodily illnesses, employees feel supported and seen.
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6. Pulling remote workers into the fold
Remote workers have given companies the ability to build out their skills-force without having to invest in larger premises or increased infrastructure. However, working from home can often leave these far-flung members of your team feeling a little isolated. As such, another workplace trend to embrace in 2020 is regular team-building events to pull these fine folks into the fold.
7. Investing in your workforce
Richard Branson famously said “Train your people well enough so they can leave; treat them well enough so they don't want to”. Employee upskilling is another positive workplace trend that will continue this year, as more and more employers recognise the benefits of developing their existing talent pool by giving them access to continuous learning opportunities.
8. Placing focus on soft skills development
Speaking of skills, soft skills are the new hard skills. Big businesses are starting to realise that the people they employ should have more than just a particular set of corporate skills and qualifications. Soft skills like a positive attitude, the ability to delegate, good organisational skills, etc. are poised to become a very important focus during initial interview processes.
9. Setting the stage for Gen Z
Succession planning is another big focus for the year ahead, as more Gen Z employees appear on the radar. Do you know what these young guns need to thrive? What kind of environment do they prefer? Kicking against the current will not change the fact that fresh legs are incoming, and that the playing field should be levelled to make the most of their exciting abilities.
10. Creating happy spaces
Pretty, well-designed offices may be nice for the brochure shots, but it also contributes to overall employee engagement. Just look at the offices of companies like Google, Adobe, Digital Luxury Group, Gusto, etc. Sure, these are big-money examples of what’s possible, but even just bringing in some live greenery and ensuring that there’s plenty of natural light is a great start. Check in with your employees, and find out what their ideal office would look like; then implement small, gradual changes to make it possible.
So, just to sum it all up, here are 10 of the workplace trends that you need to take a serious look at if you want to keep up with the HR curve in 2020 and beyond:
- Embracing AI
- Becoming au fait with the gig economy
- Taking a stance on social issues
- Focusing on diversity and inclusion
- Encouraging employees to foster good mental health
- Addressing loneliness in the remote workforce
- Providing continuous opportunities to upskill
- Promoting soft skills development
- Laying the groundwork for Gen Z
- Investing in proper office design
Implementing one, two, three or heck, all of these workplace trends at your business is sure to lay the groundwork for vastly improved company culture, supercharged employee engagement and a whole lot of other good stuff. Go ahead - try it out and get ready to enjoy the returns of an employee-centric HR strategy.
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