Top 10 Strategic Workforce Trends for 2020 from Oxford Economics
Study reveals what millennials really want, the most-coveted employee benefits, how to steer clear of the leadership cliff, and more
According to the latest findings from an Oxford Economics study entitled “Workforce 2020,” what HR organizations have in place today won’t drive success in the future. Based on feedback from over 5,400 executives and employees across 27 countries, the study was supported by SAP, and announced at SuccessConnect 2014, a customer event being held September 9-11 in Las Vegas.
The findings lay out exactly what HR, as well as the C-suite, needs to change in order to manage a diverse, mobile, and multi-generational workforce. This transformation encompasses how the organization is structured, optimal HR strategies, corporate culture imperatives, and required resources. Based on this research, here is a summary of the top ten workforce trends for 2020.
1. HR knows it needs to be a strategic business partner but often lacks the information or insights to get a seat in the boardroom. Only half (52 percent) of executives say workforce issues drive strategy at the board level. Nearly 25 percent say that workforce issues are an afterthought in business planning.
2. HR doesn’t have the metrics and tools to develop strategies for building the workforce of the future. While 53 percent of executive say workforce development is a key differentiator for their company, they don’t have the tolls and organization to take action. Even when they have data available to them, just 42 percent know how to extract meaningful insights from it.
3. Millennials may be misunderstood. There’s a significant gap between millennial workforce needs and what the workplace offers. For example, millennials rely more on formal training and mentoring to develop their skills, yet only half of companies have a mentoring program, and even fewer—41 percent—say they offer incentives for pursuing higher education. This blog outlines the major myths and facts.
4. Companies don’t understand what their employees really want from them. Infinity pools and free food may grab headlines, but less than 40 percent of surveyed employees find those perks important. Employees of all ages rank competitive compensation as the most important benefit. However, only 39 percent of executives say their company offers competitive compensation.
5. Gaps in leadership capabilities spell trouble for future growth. Only about half (52 percent) of executives say their leadership has the skills to effectively manage talent or inspire and empower employees.
6. Companies struggle to develop a learning culture. About half (52 percent) of executives says their company can retain, update, and share institutional knowledge, and only 47 percent say their company has a culture of continuous learning.
7. The 2020 workforce will be increasingly flexible and companies are unprepared. Forty-one percent of executives say their company is increasingly using contingent workers and 42 percent say this approach is affecting their workforce strategy. Yet leadership isn’t prepared to lead to global, diverse workforce. Only 34 percent of respondents say their leaders are prepared to do so—a number that drops even lower to 28 percent in Asia-Pacific.
8. For employees, obsolescence is a bigger concern than layoffs; training and education come to the fore. Forty percent of employees of all ages say their top concern is their position changing or becoming obsolete. As only 19 percent say economic uncertainty is a concern, their worry over their job is likely skills-related.
9. Technology skills development continues to lag. Although demand for skills in analytics, cloud, and programming/development is slated to grow sizably over the next three years, less than half of employees expect to be proficient with most of these technologies in three years. For example, while 51 percent of executives say analytics skills are well-represented in their organization, they also report that people with these proficiencies are the most difficult to acquire.
10. Even though executives cite education and institutional training as the most important employee attribute, companies don’t invest enough in identifying and developing talent within their organization. Less than one-quarter (23 percent) of executives say their company widely offers education as a benefit to keep employees loyal and engaged. Companies with higher-than-average profit margins are more likely to offer supplemental training programs than companies with below-average profit margins.
While some of these findings aren’t too surprising–education impacts the bottom line and employees want a decent salary—together they illuminate gaps corporations need to close for long-term growth. The workforce of 2020 isn’t far away, and there’s no doubt forward-thinking companies are already beginning to address these issues now to prepare for a better future.