Deloitte’s 2018 Global Human Capital Trends

Krasi Shapkarova

Krasi is Carey the Torch's Editor-in-Chief and also represents the Career Development Office in Washington, D.C., working with students on career exploration and development. Krasi holds a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology from the University of Houston-Clear Lake and a Master of Arts in International Human Rights from the University of Denver.

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The world of work is changing, and as a career coach, I like to stay informed on what the future holds for job seekers and employers. And that’s why I appreciated reading Deloitte’s 2018 Global Human Capital Trends report. According to the 100-page document, 2018 is the year we see the rise of the social enterprise: organizations whose mission reflects desire to make profit and focus on respecting the environment and their stakeholders. The report is touted as “a wake-up call for organizations,” and “at stake is nothing less than an organization’s reputation, relationships, and, ultimately, success or failure.” If you are preparing to enter the workforce, the report offers information on what to expect.

As the social impact career coach at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, I am excited to read about the shift toward social enterprise. Below, I’ve summarized the 10 trends—all ten coming together “to create an integrated view of the social enterprise.”

The Symphonic C-Suite: Teams Leading Teams
For organizations to successfully approach and realize the remaining nine trends, they need a team of senior leaders who perform well independently and also play nice and collaborate with their counterparts across functionalities. In other words, C-Suite executives need to function as a unified team in order to address the types of cross-disciplinary problems organizations encounter. The symphonic C-Suite is a “new, collaborative, team-based senior executive model.” Multi-dimensional problems require that executives work not in silos but together. Though the report indicates that most companies are not ready for the transition to the new symphonic C-Suite, it does offer ideas on how that could happen.

The Workforce Ecosystem: Managing Beyond the Enterprise
Freelancers, gig employees, and contractors will make up most of the future workforce, and organizations may want to prepare for the challenges associated with this “emergence of a diverse workforce ecosystem.” Specifically, they need to pay attention to how the new diverse workforce regards the employer-employee relationship. Talent sourcers may want to familiarize themselves with the needs and expectations of the new workforce so that they attract qualified candidates ready to bring value.

Deloitte recommends four strategies to address the challenge of a non-traditional workforce: 1) establish clear performance goals to ensure non-traditional employees feel they are valued members of the organizational family; 2) involve HR teams in identifying and selecting non-traditional candidates so that they are offered the same assessments as traditional employees; 3) offer contract employees onboarding and development opportunities similar to those of traditional employees; and 4) formalize performance evaluation practices so non-traditional employees understand what it takes to advance.

New Rewards: Personal, Agile, and Holistic
The report identifies three areas of misalignment between employee preferences and what organizations offer: 1) the once-per-year performance reviews and salary increases are inefficient and a thing of the past—employees respond better to frequent rewards; making things worse are the inflexible reward programs accounting only for years of experience and not taking into consideration an employee’s level of performance; 2) most benefits packages include only traditional benefits such as vacation and sick leave instead of a more individualized approach that considers the lifestyle and needs of each employee; and 3) in most organizations, the process of determining pay is seen as arbitrary and unfair.

Employees more than ever have impact on the different ways in which an employer rewards them, and if businesses want to grow, they need to listen to what the new workforce is asking for. The survey’s findings indicate that traditional reward systems have poor outcomes and organizations are struggling to retain qualified candidates. Front-runners for this specific trend offer rewards programs “that are delivered more continuously, aligned more closely with individual preferences, and based more fully on an employee’s whole contribution—to the team and the organization.”

From Careers to Experiences: New Pathways
The linear career path is a whisper from the past. Technological advancements disrupt the traditional career development process, and to help their employees prepare for a 21st-century career, organizations need to provide necessary training and learning opportunities. The skills required for the jobs of the future are not what people expect to see. Even technical positions “require skills such as writing, research, problem-solving and teamwork,” and the trend is toward an integration of sciences and the arts. Social skills, it seems, are what matters most. With that in mind, organizations should encourage “a culture of learning” that allows employees to design their own pathways and grow with the organization beyond the hierarchical method. The ultimate goal is to provide “tailored solutions that empower individuals to reinvent themselves within the company.”

The Longevity Dividend: Work in an Era of 100-Year Lives
People are living longer and organizations need to find ways to engage workers across different generations. Employing older workers could become a competitive advantage but only if organizations are prepared to make it so. Companies may want to focus on providing reskilling opportunities that allow them to retain the older workforce, who in turn could serve as mentors and coaches for newer generations. With trends 2 and 3 in the mix, employers can benefit from retirees looking to engage on a part-time or gig basis, taking into consideration their lifestyle preferences. Addressing the aging workforce is set to be a challenge, however, because as the survey identifies, age bias is quite prevalent.

Citizenship and Social Impact: Society Holds the Mirror
I may be biased, but this is definitely my favorite trend. With increasing stakeholder expectations for positive actions, “an inauthentic or uneven commitment to citizenship can quickly damage a company’s reputation, undermine its sales, and limit its ability to attract talent.” A focus on sustainability and human rights, therefore, is not simply the right thing to do; it is also the way forward if organizations want to grow and profit. For the purpose of the report, citizenship is defined as “a company’s ability to do social good and account for its actions—both externally, among customers, communities, and society, and internally, among employees and corporate stakeholders.”

Because of increased transparency, an emerging workforce that cares about how organizations address social issues, and impact of social citizenship on an organization’s brand, social impact is now integral to an organization’s identity and citizenship determines its earnings. The future workforce demands purpose-focused companies with a positive impact on their employees and the communities in which they operate.

Well-Being: A Strategy and a Responsibility
For years, it has been perfectly acceptable to come across findings that employees in the United States are highly stressed and disengaged. Work was work and people were expected to seek enjoyment and fulfillment outside of it. With the appearance of the 24/7 cycle of emails and messages, fewer employees take their allowed vacations and productivity has suffered. A change is needed and “as the line between work and life blurs, providing a robust suite of well-being programs focused on physical, mental, financial, and spiritual health is becoming a corporate responsibility and a strategy to drive employee productivity, engagement, and retention.”

The new norm is a diverse set of offerings that reveal employers who care about their employees’ well-being. Treating your employees well is the right thing to do and it also boosts productivity. In other words, it’s integral to talent acquisition. Though many organizations have started offering wellness programs beyond physical health, including financial wellness, mindfulness, stress management, the report indicates that there is a gap between what employees value (student loan support, volunteerism, and opportunities for local citizenship) and what employers offer.

AI, Robotics, and Automation: Put Humans in the Loop
Earlier this year, Elon Musk warned us about the dangers of artificial intelligence; this report points out that AI is coming to organizations while organizations either don’t understand the topic or are not prepared to face the implications. Advances in AI technologies do not impact only the tech world; in fact, “the marketplace for AI tools and robotics is booming” and demand comes from diverse fields, including HR. AI technologies are used in the hiring process, to conduct video interviews, use algorithms to select appropriate candidates, and evaluate fit. “Recruitment chatbots,” anyone?

While AI tools may become widely used, “leading companies increasingly recognize that these technologies are most effective when they complement humans, not replace them.” Robots are at the forefront, but it’s the humans in the background creating and updating the algorithms that ensure the robots’ proper functioning. I don’t know about you but this is the first time I’m hearing about positions such as bot trainer, bot farmer, and bot curator. Now that sounds like a workforce of the future!

Another realization of the report is that automation does away with monotonous jobs but creates openings for work that is “more service-oriented, interpretive, and social, playing to the essential human skills of creativity, empathy, communication, and complex problem-solving.” So if you are a young professional desperately wanting to secure your first real job, be sure to cultivate skills such as creativity, critical thinking, and people management. Technical skills are required for only a small portion of the future workforce so candidates who display high-level human skills will appeal to employers.

The Hyper-Connected Workplace: Will Productivity Reign?
Is your job an endless loop of emails, messages and phone calls? Survey findings indicate an expectation for reduced face-to-face interactions and an increase in a variety of communication platforms. New ones are developed every day so “managers must determine which tools are best for their organization, teams, and tasks based on a variety of factors, including culture, pace of communication, and level of formality.” Before a platform is implemented, it’s important to understand its contribution to increased productivity.

“Companies are concerned about a potential disconnect between new communication tools and organizational goals,” the report states. “To help ensure that personal connectivity translates to organizational productivity, they are adapting their practices, workspaces, and leadership styles to capitalize on the power of these tools while mitigating potential negative impacts.” Though almost half of survey respondents indicated increased use of virtual meeting software, the road to increased productivity is still rather bumpy. Anyone who’s ever been part of a videoconference can confirm the struggle is still real. A true change “requires collaboration between HR, IT, and the business to build an integrated, customized work environment.”

People Data: How Far is Too Far?
There’s been an increase in collecting and using workforce data to analyze, predict, and improve performance. But “organizations face a tipping point: Develop a set of well-defined policies, security safeguards, transparency measures, and ongoing communication around the use of people data, or risk employee, customer, and societal backlash.” While the benefits of people analytics are easier to acknowledge and embrace, it’s vital to also evaluate the risks involved in collecting unlimited amounts of employee data. Concerns about privacy, security, and transparency have made many employees irked and mistrustful. Organizations need robust security measures in protecting their employees’ data. “While this is a relatively new challenge for HR, it is rapidly, and rightly, becoming a top priority.”

To download the entire report and view accompanying videos, please visit Deloitte Insights.

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