Law firm Eversheds and research specialist Winmark have released a 2020 report on the future of HR. The results forecast significant changes in the field in just five years’ time. The report indicates that the candidates of 2020 will be more flexible in their approach to work, and more diverse in terms of their skill sets than ever before. 

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The report, entitled Navigating The Future, gathers the opinions and expertise of over 50 HR Directors and 13 non-executive directors in order to make informed predictions as to how workplaces will change in the next five years. The demand for particular skills will become far more specific, and HR will find that it needs to focus on pursuing and retaining candidates with those skills. 

Employees’ needs and requirements, according to the report, will grow to become far more of a priority for HR. Suzanne van Montfoort, a senior researcher for Winmark, described how the “War for Talent” will be at the forefront of HR by 2020, with skills shortages creating a wider gap between high and low skilled jobs. This will see those candidates who possess in-demand and niche skills asking more of their employers. 

The focus of HR will therefore need to be on attracting and retaining highly skilled employees. This might mean trying to offer greater incentives or benefits to encourage them to work with the firm, or looking at improving the work-life balance ethos in the organisation. Developing an inclusive, community culture within a business might also be effective in enticing potential candidates, as may finding a cause or purpose that employees wish to be a part of. 

Language skills will be of the utmost importance in the diverse and wide-ranging skill sets that will attract the limelight in the “War for Talent”, with businesses increasingly competing on a global stage. Workers who can communicate across borders and make themselves understood in different cultures will be highly sought after, according to Eversheds’ Martin Warren. 

Warren, the head of the Human Resources Practice Group at Eversheds, emphasised the value of linguistic versatility, suggesting that candidates who show proficiency with languages other than English offer “greater flexibility” when dealing with clients and business partners around the world. 

Warren acknowledged that language training will almost certainly be a major focus for HR by 2020. This is especially true where organisations have very specific requirements for communication with other countries, such as the use of scientific, technical, or legal language. 

Candidates who meet this ever-growing need for particular skills and experience will, by 2020, stand to benefit from the growing prevalence of flexible work environments. According to the report, casual hours and part retirement will soon be the norm, as will the increasingly popular trend for flexible work arrangements. 

Workers with in-demand niche skills will no doubt relish the opportunities offered by this “gig economy”, as Suzanne van Montfoort calls it, with a variety of flexible arrangements set to complement traditional models of long term employment.

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