What 10 trends are we seeing in today’s world of work?

Around this time last year, I published a little overview of Deloitte’s Global Human Capital report for 2018. When I spotted this year’s report had been published, I thought I’d do the same again. As while it’s 112 pages full of great insight (based on results of surveying nearly 10,000 HR and business leaders in 119 countries), it is a bit of a beast to wade through!

Unsurprisingly in 2019, it builds very much on the increasing importance and relevance of the social enterprise*. And on its positive link to financial performance. The report’s title is ‘Leading the Social Enterprise’. You can read it in all its glory here, but if you only have a couple of minutes, here’s my potted summary.

In a nutshell, the most important measure of success cited by CEOs this year was [making a positive] ‘’impact on society’’. This has been against the backdrop of a disruptive and turbulent year, politically, economically and socially. But we are still a long way from achieving this.

  • 85% of employees are not engaged or actively disengaged in their jobs.
  • The number one reason globally that people quit their jobs is the inability to learn and grow.
  • In the US, more than 40% of people work on a contingent basis, and more than 2/3 of Millennials and Gen Zs work side hustles to supplement their incomes (with similar percentages in many developed western economies).
  • At the same time, birth rates in developed countries are slowing (below replacement level), and the fastest growing segments of the workforce are the over-55s.

And while technology is leaping ahead, the human element still needs to catch up – we need to put meaning back into our jobs. Organisations are faced with having to re-invent themselves in order to succeed.

So, how do they do this? Where should we be focusing our efforts? Here’s my interpretation of Deliotte’s top ten:

  1. Embrace the ‘alternative workforce’

Look at how best you can access and deploy freelance, contract and gig workers. They’re here for the foreseeable future. Flexibility (on both sides) needs to become the new norm.

  1. Create new ‘superjobs’

We need to re-think how humans can use their skills to complement the technology that’s replacing many jobs of old. That means re-designing new, integrated roles that leverage the benefits technology brings.

  1. Re-look at the roles and skills of leaders

80% of respondents agreed that 21st century leaders face new and unique challenges. New competencies are needed to lead through change, embrace ambiguity and harness technology.

  1. Let’s think “humans”, not employees

There’s been a lot of talk about improving the “employee experience”. And indeed, 84% of respondents rated this as important. But we need to do more than that. We need to expand the concept to create human meaning and connection – back to the impact on society as a whole.

  1. Team-working is the way forward

Hierarchies are so last season. Cross-functional teams are the way forward. 31% or respondents already operate wholly or mostly in this way. But the vast majority are still struggling with organising themselves in ways that can make this work. Technology’s helping, but we need to refresh talent practices to keep up.

  1. Reward appropriately

We’re not very good at rewarding our people in line with organisational goals. And 23% of those surveyed didn’t even know what their workers valued. Let’s work closer with our people to create new, agile reward systems right for our organisations and the humans that work in them.

  1. Re-thinking talent acquisition

The employment market’s competitive and skill requirements are constantly changing. To find the right people for the job, we need to think creatively. Move people internally, use ‘alternative’ workers and use technology more effectively.

  1. Get (internally) mobile

We’re becoming more global, but we still don’t make it easy enough for our existing people to take advantage of this. Let’s open ourselves up for our people (at all levels) to move around – both organisations and individuals will thrive.

  1. Make learning a way of life

Changing the way people learn is a massive need for organisations. It needs to become part of every-day work; it needs to be personal; and it needs to be continuous. Let’s create opportunities and incentives for people to take them up.

  1. Take HR tech to the next level

Cloud computing is a wonderful thing and many have embraced new platforms to make HR systems more engaging, personalised and data-driven. But there’s room for improvement. Once we have decent foundations in place, let’s explore bolting on new AI based platforms and tools so we can really support our people to innovate.

What’s the conclusion? We’re looking at a “renewed human focus in a world where profits meet purpose, talent trumps technology, and the social enterprise reigns supreme.” And I think that’s very exciting.


*Definition… “an organization whose mission combines revenue growth and profit-making with the need to respect and support its environment and stakeholder network. This includes listening to, investing in, and actively managing the trends that are shaping today’s world. It is an organization that shoulders its responsibility to be a good citizen (both inside and outside the organization), serving as a role model for its peers and promoting a high degree of collaboration at every level.”

Sandy Vossos
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