Take It From a Futurist: 2020 Will Bring Greater Emphasis on People Analytics, Talent Experience and Ethics Charters

Cornerstone Editors

In making predictions for the HR landscape of 2020, Insight222 Executive Director David Green cites the Danish physicist Niels Bohr: "Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future." Nevertheless, Green ventures to make educated guesses.

"The challenges that the fourth industrial revolution provide means that HR needs to change," he says. "It needs to become more digital, more analytical and more outward focused. It needs to develop HR programs with and for the workforce rather than to them."

He adds: "In many respects the 2020 predictions aren’t too dissimilar to 2019 but the importance for organizations in areas like talent experience, people analytics and workforce planning are even more pressing."

Here, we'll explore a few elements of Green's 2020 forecast.

1) Talent Experience Will Become Increasingly Important

In an article titled, "Putting the 'H' back into HR—10 Predictions for HR in 2020," Green writes that talent experience will grow even more important. Many companies are working to develop, or further develop, programs around talent experience.

"The methodologies being employed to understand, design and measure employee experience—particularly at the ’moments that matter’— are getting more sophisticated, more data-driven and more continuous," he writes.

Talent experience, especially when curated with employees’ individual life cycle and career phases in mind, can improve employee retention and performance, Green explains. And, this area of focus even seems to influence a company's bottom line. Citing a bar graph by Willis Towers Watson, Green notes that it appears companies with strong employee experience are outperforming the market.

An emphasis on talent experience has long been in the making. Forbes contributor Denise Lee Yohn called 2018 the "year of the employee experience" in January of that year, and the area continues to grow.

2) People Analytics Will Grow, and Quickly

"People analytics is arguably the fastest growing part of HR as it moves from the periphery to the core of HR," Green says. And, the phenomenon is not going anywhere.

According to Green, people analytics—or tools that use data to track and gather insight on employee behaviors in order to pick up on relevant patterns—are becoming integral to areas like workforce planning and employee experience. The field has seen expansion in the "size, breadth and depth" of people analytics teams, he says.

Those organizations developing advanced capability in people analytics are seeing improved business outcomes and better employee experiences because they’re making more informed decisions, Green explains. And those who are not yet there, he says, "are racing to catch up."

Green says that many of the people analytics teams that his company Insight222 work with "doubled or tripled in size" in 2019. Budgets for these teams have increased as well, sometimes even at the cost of other HR areas, according to Green.

3) Ethics Charters Are Gaining Traction

With the advancement of people analytics, AI and machine learning comes a dangerous question with a complex answer: how will this data be used? And so, as people analytics grows in popularity and importance, so does the ethics charter.

"Companies that implement ethics charters governing the use of people data, algorithms and AI in talent management are more likely to mitigate risk, provide benefit to the organization and the workforce and increase transparency into how they use people analytics," Green says.

As Green explains it, an ethics charter sets forth a list of principles and processes to govern the use of people’s data within an organization. In a perfect world, the creation of an ethics charter is a joint effort, he says; those involved could include members of the HR, Legal, Finance and IT departments, as well as employees or councils representing them.

"The purpose is to ensure that not only is people data processed and analyzed in a legally compliant way but that it is done transparently to ensure employee trust," Green says.

4) The "Human" Element of HR Will Reappear

"Robots will not take all our jobs," Green writes, in part. "History tells us that more jobs are created than lost in an industrial revolution."

World Economic Forum data predicts the creation of 133 million new roles by 2022, offsetting the disappearance of 75 million roles, Green details.

Many of the jobs that will be automated, Green says, are those that involve repetitive tasks. In contrast, the jobs generated will in large part involve creativity—a human trait making a human impact, he explains.

"This is where HR has a critical role to play," he writes, "not only in being the conductor of the future of work orchestra for people-related issues, but also in putting the ’human’ at the centre and ensuring that our workplaces become fairer, better and more humane."

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