20 June 2018

10 trends facing HR leaders today

Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends report is one of our favourite annual white papers, reporting on the 10 big trends facing HR pros today. This year’s paper is all about social enterprises – how organisations impact societies and the importance of their relationships with employees, customers, and communities.

For the report, which you’ll find here, Deloitte talked to 11,000 businesses worldwide about the need for positive relationships, breaking down silos internally for better collaboration, and building trust, credibility, and consistency through actions.

Generally, people expect organisations to be good for society, and this report highlights more than ever before that openness and transparency are key for potential employees, customers, and partners to build interest and loyalty with a brand.


Here are the 10 trends outlined by Deloitte, with our takeaways on each.

1. Leaders need to learn to collaborate

As the report says, “behaving as a social enterprise demands an unprecedented level of cross-functional vision, connectivity, and collaboration from C-suite leaders.” It’s something that’s not easy – leaders are busy focusing on their own team’s objectives and it’s very easy to become siloed. Working in networks of teams brings together a wide range of specialist skills and enables an organisation to work much more quickly and efficiently. This step needs to happen before any of the other nine can.


We think…

The hardest thing here is mindset. Leadership teams are working on so many projects all at once, it can be difficult to find the time to spend together. But, when leaders do get the chance to sit, discuss, and work through challenges together it’s worth it. With such a range of views and perceptions, innovative and efficient solutions can easily be achieved.


Comms tip…

Lead from the top and make cross-functional leadership teams a priority. Hold an interactive away day where teams can solve challenges together (related to the business). Let them experience the benefits first hand and build that rapport with each other naturally. Schedule in regular catch ups out of the office environment to keep this going.


2. Managing beyond the enterprise

By 2020, 37% of the businesses surveyed for the report expect a rise in contractors, 33% see an increase in freelancers, and 28% expect growth in gig workers. Organisations need to adapt to this new environment and learn to manage beyond the enterprise itself.


We think…

Take the time to understand the best ways of working together and agree this upfront. Make people feel part of the team – it’s easy for contractors to feel outside of what’s going on. Keep them engaged, but remember it’s a two way street and the same is needed from them too.


Comms tip…

The key here is strong and consistent communications. With the proliferation of ESNs, there’s so much technology out there now to make this easier. Make sure everyone – full time and contractors – are clear on the purpose, vision, and direction of travel for the business. Make roles clear and let people actively contribute.


3. New rewards

Rewards are under the spotlight, with a demand for more personalised, flexible, and holistic rewards. While companies recognise this overall shift, only 8% report that their rewards program is ‘very effective’ at creating a personalised, flexible solution. It’s time for companies to put rewards first.


We think…

Employees are increasingly the ones with power and it’s time to recognise them as individuals. Rewards are one of the most valuable ways to do this. Rewards are also a huge part of your employer brand so it’s important that people have the best experience.


Comms tip…

When it comes to rewards, we believe it’s good to follow in the footsteps of retail and how they manage their calendar of seasonal activity. Our biggest tip here is reminding people of their rewards available. Don’t just tell them at induction and then forget all about it!

Why not create individual campaigns throughout the year around the various elements of your reward package? Also, think about the way we shop as consumers. It’s nice to pick and mix what’s relevant. Think of buying a car, you can choose the interiors, capacity, features etc. This approach could easily be brought into reward.


4. For careers to experiences

Gone are the days of climbing the corporate ladder. Now, it’s more like treating your career as a climbing frame – and you’re in charge of where you go next. There’s the opportunity to learn new roles and continually reinvent yourself. While many businesses recognise this new model – and its benefits – they struggle to empower people to embrace it.


We think…

This is a big one for us. One of our core beliefs is to consider your employees as consumers. But to do this you need to make the career journey experience from initial brand awareness through hire to retire the best it can be. Marketeers have always focused on the customer experience, we’re focusing on the employee experience.


Comms tip…

Work collaboratively with internal teams such as learning and development, line management, and HR to map the employee experience. What do you offer now, what’s missing and what would an amazing experience look like? Then take a typical individual in your employee audience – journey through it and ask yourself is this the best experience we can give?


5. Working in an era of 100 year lives

We’re working longer than ever before, and our population is ageing. Many businesses are seeing this as an opportunity, with multiple generations working together and learning from one another.


We think….

Although the positive opportunities that this multi-generational workforce present are myriad, if it’s not managed correctly it could leave some employees feeling left behind.


Comms tip…

Segmentation and tailoring all the way. Get out there and find out how people in different areas wish to be communicated with. Their experience and roles might mean the answers are different, which means it’s our job to have the right channels and mix of comms available to meet those needs.


6. Citizenship and social impact

This is all about your organisation’s engagement with the world at large. It’s subjects like diversity, gender pay, income equality, climate change. The gap here is huge. In the survey, 77% said that citizenship and social impact is important, but only 18% say that it’s a top issue reflected in corporate strategy.


We think…

Social impact is no longer just a ‘nice to have’. People’s judgement on these subjects affects not only their perception of you but also your financial performance and brand value.


Comms tip…

Make social impact a clear part of your employer brand strategy and communicate your policies from the initial recruitment campaign right through the entire employee journey. It’s easy to want to be everything to everyone, but choose causes that are aligned with your brand’s purpose and support fully.


7. Wellbeing


Wellbeing is not just a responsibility of employers, it’s becoming a strategy in itself. Many companies are looking at this in a much bigger way; physical, mental, financial, and emotional. But there’s still a gap between what employees value and what companies are delivering.


We think…

A clear approach to wellbeing is a great way to make a personal difference to people. But more than that, it can also rally people together to drive forward to a goal.


Comms tip…

Having worked on many campaigns to structure and engage employees in these wellbeing programmes, it’s vital that these programmes have a solid comms plan to promote them. Colleagues should be involved in shaping the programme of activities from the start.


8. AI, robotics, and automation

These technologies mean that companies are starting to look at their organisations differently; retraining people into roles that are ‘uniquely human’ (think problem-solving, social skills etc) and rearranging structures to balance tech and employee skills.


We think… 

Technology is exciting, but it’s also daunting. Any communications or new initiatives that see elements of a person’s job being automated needs to be carefully managed to show it as something to be embraced not feared.


Comms tip…

We’re a great believer in the principle of minimum viable product and not waiting for something to be perfect before it’s put to trial, especially internally where you can get valid feedback and improvements really early on. So, get something tested, pilot it, have a team help develop it, champion it, but also don’t neglect the fear people have in trying something new. Take people on a step-by-step journey with you. We like to think of individuals on the change curve, everyone will be stepping on at a different point and the aim is to move people one step on from their own comfort zone.


9. The hyper-connected workforce

70% of respondents believe workers will spend more time on collaboration platforms in the future, with 67% seeing growth in workplace social media. Deloitte ask the very valid question – is it making us more productive or more chaotic?


We think…

You still have to introduce these tools properly, with easy, quick and accessible training and support where people can feel comfortable to just ‘have a go’. Leaders are key, and need to show their support by using these new tools and encouraging their use across the organisation. It’s important to try, but there is no harm in being honest and saying ‘it wasn’t right for us’.


Comms tip…

Keep it simple, don’t overwhelm with loads of tools, prepare properly for launch and the early days, and ensure local champions are in place to be on hand for those who need it. Communicate the benefits for the team, the company, the customer. If you think you can save people time by using these tools, promote this and bring it to life.


10. People data

People data – including data on productivity and engagement, diversity, gender pay equity – is becoming increasingly important. In fact, it’s the second highest rated trend in terms of importance to organisations. But, it’s a big investment to provide this level of analysis and not protecting that data properly can cause serious issues.


We think…

As people have prepared for GDPR regulations in the UK and watched so many big well-known organisations get into hot water for misuse of data, it’s brought the subject of employee data to the front of people’s minds.


Comms tip…

We think it’s important to keep reporting back to people – often data is gathered and never fed back and it becomes a source of disengagement. So, take the data, get some conclusions and communicate what you’ve found, why it’s interesting, and what you’re going to do about it.


So what?

With all of these trends, the importance of communications is clear. What else is clear is that many companies are not quite ready to meet the challenge. The big gaps are leadership collaboration, career experiences, wellbeing, a connected workplace, and personalised reward.

The best practice approach should remain. Keep joining the dots for people in the business when it comes to the company direction, break everything down into a meaningful bite-size story, and be concise (think snackable content) as this is all people can cope with. And always be clear in your call to action.



How are these trends affecting your organisation? And what are the key challenges you’re facing, let us know hello@mccannsynergy.com.uk 




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