HR trends 2020

We looked at the reports and headlines from different sources and summarised our findings in 7 key trends to look at in 2020.


HR trends 2020

We all recognise we live in a VUCA world, Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. Constant innovations are changing the way we live and interact, and there is no difference in the HR world. Trying to keep up with the latest innovations and to be prepared for the future while trying to improve the current situation is challenging. We know this time of the year is hectic, so we decided to look at the reports and headlines from different sources, and summarised our findings on 7 key trends to look on 2020.

1. Inclusiveness pays

Women and minorities in the workplace have always been a bottleneck trend. Still today, women hold a mere 34% of managerial positions worldwide, and LGBT+ people feel discriminated in the workplace. Even though the metrics have been increasing positively the past years, minorities' turnover rates are high, and their engagement rates pretty low.

Creativity plays an essential role in innovation, and innovation means higher profit for the organisation.

Angie Van Steerthem, a Senior researcher at Vlerick Business School, says: "There is something called minority stress" which can cause a feeling of exclusion that can push minorities back. People who feel comfortable in the workplace are more likely to think outside the box, and feel confident to share their ideas. Creativity plays an essential role in innovation, and innovation means higher profit for the organisation.

Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. McKinsey research


Inclusiveness is a win for everyone. Entrepreneurs have been creating great places to work for minorities. The reason why they have been so successful is that they look for the right person to execute the job, instead of someone that solves the diversity issue. Having a diverse team promotes different thinking, and consequently, creates more innovative results. This puts them ahead of their competitors. It seems that next year we'll see that companies who invested early on in diversity, will reap results.

2. Data driven HR

HR professionals are sometimes accused of lack of structural data to support their proposals or decisions. Organisations are continually facing new challenges: retaining and attracting talent during the "war on talent", monitoring costs or keeping employee engagement levels high. The need for information that helps to find appropriate conclusions becomes more evident every day. 

With the use of more data and analytics, HR managers could show their value to the management board. Decisions regarding leadership, productivity, rewarding or new initiatives should be based on real-time data. The more insights you can collect, the more trends and patterns you can discover within your organisation, also the more actions you can take.

With people analytics, you can:

  • Learn and innovate
  • Optimise operations
  • Stimulate behaviour and performance
  • Create value
  • Improve your leadership

3. Agile learning

LinkedIn released its latest research where they asked people how their workplace learning could be improved. The number 1 challenge cited was "people do not have enough time". Among the respondents 58% want to learn in their own pace, and 49% want to learn in the flow of work.


The challenge for next year is to find the right balance between daily work and learning. The report shows that 56% of employees would take a manager suggested course; this implies getting managers on board to support employee learning. Josh Bersin explained the new paradigm on corporate learning in "learning with the flow of work" Think of how any content platform like Spotify, Netflix or even The New York Times suggests content and makes it easy to consume. Apply this thinking in your corporate learning strategy and imagine your employees receiving recommendations, tips and suggestions for short learning modules that respond to their needs and new challenges.

4. Holistic HR

There is a need to close the gap between HR policies and business strategy. In management meetings, usually, HR topics are a formality that need to be discussed, but often don't go into detail.

HR managers need to have access to a better overview of their organisation's performance. They know what team or department is bringing more business value to the organisation. In the same way, an HR professional should contribute to initiatives that lead to more committed employees. If HR takes a holistic overview of the organisation's performance, they will become a crucial asset that combines good organisational knowledge with business understanding and decisions.

HR managers need to provide more strategic insights and think ahead in the long term. HR managers need to provide more strategic insights and think ahead in the long term. You must be able to estimate what business needs are, to calculate when the business is ready for particular intervention or adjust, to asses if the organisation has the right talent with the right skills needed to achieve organisational goals.

The impact of HR managers performing as a strategic partner will:

  • Add value to ALL stakeholders, not only managers
  • Influence short-term and long-term strategies
  • Change to a more human-centric culture

To achieve this, it is essential to use advanced technologies that allow HR to gather employee data and combine intuition with hard skills for analytics.

5. Employee experience by design

A research conducted by KPMG on connected enterprises shows that employee experience can directly influence customer experience. Aligning your employee experience with your customer experience strategy can lead to an increase in organisational profit. The research data shows that investing in employee experience impacts up to 4 times the average organisational profit and higher engagement levels.

To design an employee experience it's necessary to understand the work the employee does, the tools they are provided with and the environment surrounding them. HR can leverage on technology to analyse the employee's journey and identify the "moments that matter", but some knowledge of design thinking will add value to the process. Implementing a better employee experience enables HR to personalise experiences, understand and expand the drivers that influence employee engagement.

93% of pathfinding organisations believe that employee experience design should be a strategic topic on executives' agenda for 2020. Besides, new generations expect a grade of experience while they work. Designing employee experience will become key to retain and attract talented employees.

We have a mini guide about employee happiness that can help you design your employee experience!

EN - NF - Happiness_Booklet_NL

6. Adaptive systems

In HR generally, the focus is very much on process improvement. Most of the times, these processes are designed in one size fits all way. HR or managers make decisions based on what they think is better for the organisation. With a system able to capture data from different sources, the decision making process changes for a more bottom-up approach, based on employee's choices and the system results. It will become easier for managers to act on insights.

For example, for some organisations, the non-response of pulse survey rates is around 30%. If every month each employee receives a link to a survey, with the use on an adaptive system, you can change the cadence for the non-respondents, the content of the survey or depending on the response, adapt the next question.

The point is that, based on the employee's responses (decisions), the system will, and HR can, adapt the solution and take better decisions. 

Adaptive systems will help you to become a better leader by understanding the current situation of your subordinates.

7. Engagement on the radar

Increasing engagement is an urgent topic that organisations want to address. A research done by intuo found that 70% of organisations have identified engagement as a top priority for 2020. Employees need to feel that their work is meaningful for the company. The ultimate goal of the organisation is to foster employees to help it meet its goals. Another finding on the research is that 50% of organisations continuously measure employee engagement.

By being able to collect all the needed data and get insights from it, organisations can take better actions to higher their rates and become more competitive on talent acquisition and retention. Engagement drives business results, impacts productivity rates and sales revenue. Studies made by Gallup prove that the higher the engagement levels, the higher the customers engagement will be as well. The use of digital tools, analytics or machine learning can help HR to analyse a high number of employee data and get more insights into employee experience and engagement.