This email has attempted to list the key talent and HR trends that will dominate conversations and actions in 2021. An industry-specific report will be subsequently published, but this is a cross-industry view – a general view across all sub-functions of HR. The email is long one but I assure you it is packed with detailed insights and research.
In his essays of probabilities, the great scientist Pierre Laplace said the following:
“We may regard the present state of the universe as the effect of its past and the cause of its future. For an intellect that is vast enough to submit these data to analysis, the future would be present before its eyes” – Pierre-Simon de Laplace (1749–1827)
Predicting the future is not very easy, but as Laplace says, we can have a point of view through the vastness of data mining and analyzing trends. Our point of view may not be super accurate but will get your creative thinking flowing, which is the objective of this email. By leveraging over 300 million data points from 2020, we have attempted to provide an overview of activities that will take the mindshare of HR and the skills that we expect to dominate in 2021.
1.0 AI Ethics Framework – The time is Now
Our text mining models have picked up Inclusivity and Bias removal across various algorithms, especially hiring and performance management as key emerging responsibility for HR. Establishing an AI ethics framework (if it is not done already) will be a key task. This is extremely critical for algorithms and solutions to scale internally. Distinguished academicians and institutes are working on establishing protocols around this. The 3AI institute from Australian National University is beginning to develop a good point of view on this.
2.0 Talent Acquisition – More scientific and Battle Cards centric
TA is expected to get more scientific in areas like Passive Hiring and use various AI processes for hiring in general. An inventory-based optimization model for hiring leveraging supply chain economics will be very useful for TA (more details around this will be shared). Battle Cards targeting specific peers, Aqui Hiring and engaging candidates through gamification is expected to dominate. TA will also realize that they are the frontline brand leaders as customers, social media fans, and hiring targets all converge. TA also will establish separate COEs for hiring certain areas such as Principal Engineers or roles which are foundationally different and important.
3.0 Performance Management – Continuous as opposed to discreet
A survey showed 95% of the companies conduct formal year-end feedback and review discussions. 63% have formal midyear or quarterly progress reviews. About 63% routinely conduct performance feedback sessions between officials’ performance reviews. But less than half (48%) of employees are satisfied with the quality of the feedback and development coming out of this process. The quest is to take insights from different data systems and separate performance issues from process issues, and provide an integrated view to employees. This trend is expected to dominate in 2021.
4.0 Reskilling – An era of big skills convergence
Our analysis shows only 18% of the courses put in place by companies are being leveraged by employees. (if you are above this, you should be very proud). Technologies are also converging. Today a QA automation engineer is almost a developer (or very close to becoming one). As a result, Outcome-based training and the ability to assess the progress will emerge as a key trend. This will also amplify companies very rich choices. Mapping low cost and no cost courses will also accelerate outcome-based Reskilling
5.0 Skills for 2021 – From Programming to Digital Mindset and yes, there is a difference
2020 witnessed an over-accumulation or a race to accumulate technical skills (software especially) by all companies. This will continue, but we need holistic skills to put those skills to use. And we do not mean this in a project management kind of way. It needs to be looked at through the lens of a Digital Enterprise. Skills that will be in Demand from this point of view (to transform an enterprise into a Digital Enterprise). (the full set of exact skills will be sent to you later, but I am providing a snapshot)
Agile Scrum, Jira, Six Sigma and Kanban
Data Visualization –Tableau, Oracle BI SAP BI, Power BI
Digital Marketing: Google Analytics, SEO, Marketo
Functional Skills: – Design Thinking, Storyboards, Usability Testing, and a range of similar skills
Database: – SQL, NoSql, Mongo
Cyber Security – Firewalls, NIST, Encryption, Forensics
Programming: – C, R, Java, Python (The big 4 of programming)
These skills (except the last three buckets of Database and Programming) are not Coding skills and are what I would call Digital skills (you have to use a software/digital platform). This is something even a so-called non-technical person can learn.
6.0 Diversity Focus – Gender, Ethnicity and a new one – Diversity of thoughts
With the specificity, many organizations seek – for example – Women Black Developer with Python Skills in large scale cloud systems – We do not have enough talent. That is why we need to know the influencers. For example, companies working with Influencers like Makinde Adeagbo, an influencer and founder of Black in AI at Palo Alto-CA, will be crucial. One is access to talent, but the other is understanding skill linkages. We have to ask tough questions. It takes one year to get the right diverse candidate. How can we invest half of that time in reskilling a diverse candidate with nearby skills? Chris Cox, a world-famous Chief Product Officer at Facebook (returned to Facebook after quitting briefly). If you read his writings, Cox strongly advocates the need to have diversity of thoughts in any product/solution development – You simply cannot leave it to all to technologists.
7.0 Contingent Labor – Not contingent in high demand scenarios
Whenever I highlight that Microsoft uses well over 60,000 people as contingent labor across IT, Engineering, Sales and Marketing and Corporate areas, I get a significant surprise reaction. Today, companies have many functions where human intervention is essential and, at the same time, cannot afford to have them on full-time books. Google search refinement has about 10,000 employees with a staffing provider called Lionbridge, for example. Yet, HR is still far away from the dynamics of supplier HR policies and the associated dynamics. Contingent labor is a key competitive strategy and this is expected to increase in 2021.
8.0 Digital Life of Employees– Learn from the Sherwin Williams Episode
It will be a natural course of action that HR will play a significant role in overall Digital Governance. Look at what happened in Sherwin Williams in November 2020. Tony Piloseno worked for three years as a senior sales associate at a Sherwin-Williams store before starting his viral paint channel. He said he purchased paint and created videos when the store was slow to show the paint-mixing process. More than 1.4 million users follow Piloseno’s Tik Tok channel, @tonesterpaints, showcasing mesmerizing paint mixing. The 154-year-old paint company surprised many consumers, not to mention Tik Tok users. It fired college senior Tony Piloseno after he amassed quite the social media audience with paint-mixing videos. Pilosano told BuzzFeed News Sherwin-Williams accused him of stealing paint and company time. A Sherwin-Williams spokesperson told BuzzFeed it acted based on a customer complaint. The issue is not who is right or wrong (for this email). The digital life of employees (even outside the scope of work) is having a huge impact, and HR will have to design policies without disrupting the creativity of employees
9.0 Location Attributes Changes – Ignore at your peril
Location Narratives are constantly evolving. Austin -Texas getting crowded, VCs developing Miami – Florida, Dallas becoming more IT than R&D, Munich – Germany becoming R&D Hub, Bangalore-India costs are constantly climbing up, Rwanda -Africa becoming a strong Mobile startup city, Manchester-UK growth is phenomenal in the last two years, Ireland do not want to be identified as a location choice for taxes alone and so on. HR should understand this narrative in a detailed way. We are here to help.
10.0 Compensation Models – Relook at your survey-based model
The conventional survey models may have to be relooked when it comes to comp benchmarking. With the growth in data sources, companies can use this as one data point and build a model leveraging public sources of data. The odds of aligning comp better to market trends will improve in this scenario
11.0 University Hiring – Don’t just look in Universities !!
Today’s younger talent is not just in universities. With so many online certifications, you have to look beyond. Look at this story of Marcus Hutchins. At 22, Marcus Hutchins single-handedly saved the internet. From a bedroom in his parents’ house, Hutchins stopped WannaCry, a self-spreading digital worm that, at the time, was the worst cyberattack the world had ever seen. Marcus never went to a formal school!! . (you may not want to hire him necessarily) but companies need a mechanism to identify all this talent.