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"How much do you make?" goes mainstream, and 9 more talent trends to watch in 2020

Through recent conversations with leaders in talent acquisition, development and compensation, Korn Ferry has identified the 10 key emerging global talent trends for the year ahead.

Commenting briefly on what can be expected, Byrne Mulrooney, Chief Executive Officer, Korn Ferry RPO, Professional Search and Korn Ferry Digital, said: "The workforce is rapidly evolving. This year, we will see an even greater focus on transparency, agility, culture and purpose-driven leadership.

"Employers are also becoming more flexible in how they embrace technology, attract and reward employees, and create ongoing transformation at all levels of the organisation."

The 10 trends identified (in no particular order) are summarised as follows:

#1 "How much do you make?" is becoming a more acceptable question

This used to be a taboo question but according to a recent survey cited in these findings, nearly one in four respondents (24%) thought it was appropriate to share their salary information with colleagues. Further, more than one-third (37%) believe it's more acceptable to discuss salaries today than it was five years ago.

Apart from this, pay transparency has also been progressing worldwide in the form of equal-pay-for-equal-work legislation. In fact, more than 80 countries have passed this, with more than a quarter of them having a mandatory reporting requirement.

Lastly, a separate global survey of HR professionals revealed that transparency on pay and rewards will become even more important this year. HR and pay teams are strategising on how to create equitable pay programmes, more clearly articulate the principles behind those programs, and help managers communicate with employees who may feel they are under-compensated.

#2 Revolving door at the top = continuous succession planning made possible

Given the high pace of CEO turnover during the past three years, both planned and unplanned, boards of directors are taking more proactive, tactical steps to understand the depth and breadth of the executive and enterprise leadership pipeline to enable thoughtful, strategic transitions when needed.

In line with this, more importance is being placed on the strategic review of top leadership talent, and many best-in-class boards have formed compensation and talent committees to ensure this review is thoughtfully-approached. There is also a parallel desire to address pay equity and pay transparency.

#3 Pick us! Pick us! Companies are prioritising employer branding

Employers are ditching the mindset that a competitive pay package alone is enough to attract the best and brightest talent. Instead, they are increasingly creating comprehensive, multi-channel initiatives, such as apps, events, videos and chatbots, to entice a wide range of candidates with their unique employer brand proposition.

According to the experts interviewed, one key way to become an employer of choice is to be authentic and transparent. Many firms are making it a point to understand the culture and what matters to employees, often gauging worker sentiments through surveys and other listening tools.

#4 Reskilling employees for the future

Needless to say, many companies are placing greater focus on reskilling their employees to meet increasing skills demands in the industry. And these are done not just through degree programmes, but more frequently through programmes that provide certifications, accreditations, and niche skills.

More importantly, reskilling has become a key priority for a range of firms, in hopes to both enhance their employees' capabilities, and improve retention.

#5 Continuous transformation - it's happening

Yes, reskilling is important but no, just reskilling is not enough to adapt to industry changes. Instead, companies today are increasingly moving toward continuous transformation - more than people development, they are redesigning their jobs and structures for more agility and scalability.

Moreover, any time a company makes a strategic change that requires people to do things differently, they need to closely examine how those changes impact company culture and amend as necessary. This is critical because culture drives strategy execution.

If this doesn't happen, reskilled people who go back to their old jobs and culture will create a recipe for failure, the findings revealed.

With that in mind, transformation must occur at every level - be it with at the middle management level, or entry-level positions and to cater to that, those at these levels are now being given more control in how to structure their own work, as well as the work of their teams and colleagues.

#6 The rise of the 'career nomad'

"Career nomads" - high-performing, talented professionals who switch jobs, organisations and even careers at a faster rate than others - are becoming a norm in companies today.

However, despite professionals believing that frequent job switches have positively impacted their careers, most organisations still see a risk in career nomads. In fact, many companies do ignore the benefits of having such employees in their workforce; in particular, gains that arise from their multidisciplinary experiences, intellectual curiosity and high learning agility.

That said, there are still employers who leverage on the potentials of these career nomads. Not only do they use success profiles in hiring, but they also seek candidates who possess the soft skills to deal with ambiguity and uncertainty, which is needed to help them grow with the company. As a result of this trend, more employees are also jumping across roles, as there is more flexibility within an organisation.

#7 Companies are almost cracking the code on effective D&I

While many firms have come a long way in tackling D&I in their organisations, more has to be done to bring about lasting transformation.

In light of this, a growing number of firms are addressing the concept of 'structural inclusion', an approach that looks for ways conscious and unconscious biases have been embedded into the talent systems themselves, contributing to inequities in pay, promotions, representation, visibility, access and opportunity.

To surface these inequities, companies are doing de-biasing audits of their processes, building inclusive leadership capabilities in their executive and senior management ranks, and creating greater accountabilities for people managers in achieving greater diversity and inclusion.

#8 Goodbye, control, consistency and closure; Hello, trust, purpose and agility

Almost gone are the days where bosses needed to set the team's strategy and tightly control the process through to the outcome. Instead, leaders today are creating an agile and adaptable culture where teams trust each other and understand the purpose of their work.

Additionally, many are finding purpose and meaning in their work today - with purpose-driven leadership now being critical for the bottom line. With that, a vast majority of professionals surveyed agreed that companies see a long-term financial benefit when they make a strong commitment to purpose-driven leadership.

In fact, some companies are taking this concept one step further by rewarding workers who have helped achieve the greater purpose of the firm. From a leadership perspective, Korn Ferry's findings revealed this as an emerging trend to include environmental, social and governance metrics in CEO compensation packages, instead of just financial metrics.

#9 Hiring and compensation are done with caution

With new skill sets emerging and increasing in priority today, many companies are hiring people who have niche technical skills, even if they don't have an immediate role available for them.

On the other hand, to avoid adding to fixed costs, companies are becoming more reluctant to give across-the-board cost-of-living increases. Instead, they're using discretionary incentives such as bonuses, to reward key skill sets and performance.

#10 Caring for candidates and staff in the world of AI

More companies are now using AI programmes to inform candidates quickly and efficiently on where they stand in the process, help them navigate career sites, schedule interviews and give advice. This is significantly transforming the candidate experience, enhancing engagement and elevating overall satisfaction.

For instance, some offer 'day in the life' virtual simulations that allow candidates to see what a role would entail, which can either enhance interest or help candidates self-select out of the process. It also helps employers understand if the candidate would be a good fit, based on their behaviour during the simulation. Based on Korn Ferry's survey, 78% of HR professionals said in 2020, it will be vital to provide candidates with such type experiences.

On the employees' end, firms are tapping on chatbots which can offer employees about open jobs, give skills assessments and offer career guidance.

Photo / iStock

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