Here are the editors’ picks for the top talent & organization news of 2019. 

1. The generational divide in the workforce 

Generation X is unhappy at work; generation Z expects a promotion within the first year of beginning a new job; and boomers aren’t ready to retire yet. Those are just some of the studies and articles that highlighted the continued challenges of a multigenerational workforce in 2019. With record low unemployment and employers competing in a war for talent, those who can understand their workforce’s pain points will be best positioned to both attract and retain experienced, highly skilled workers,” said Todd Katz, executive vice president, Group Benefits at MetLife. In this BambooHR blog postTori Fica shared three strategies to manage the multigenerational workforce effectively: 1. Identify preferred management styles. 2. Use coaching to help employees grow. 3. Set stretch goals.

2. Everyone wins with gender diversity

Women-led companies are not only better for business, but also better at meeting the overall job satisfaction needs of employees. In a Forbes blog post, Caroline Castrillon cited the results of several studies, including one analysis, which found that women CEOs in the Fortune 1000 drove three times the returns of S&P 500 enterprises run predominantly by men. Another study, conducted by Berlin Cameron, The Harris Poll and The Female Quotient, revealed that 50 percent of Americans would rather work at a female-led company than a male-led company because they’re more purpose-driven, more likely to have access to childcare, and more likely to offer equal pay. In an extensive op-ed piece in Harvard Business Review, Melinda Gates argued it was time to make bold and ambitious goals in gender diversity. “If we want to see results, more philanthropists, venture capitalists, businesses, and policy makers need to be willing to invest in gender-focused interventions,” she wrote. Gates and her team at Pivotal Ventures created a three-pronged strategy to achieve measurable results by 2030—dismantling the most pervasive barriers to women’s professional advancement; fast-tracking women in the sectors with outsize impact on society; and amplifying external pressure on the institutions that can reinvent the status quo.

3. Culture as a business issue—not just an HR buzzword

Failures of culture have been the single biggest destroyers of value in the last five years, according to Laszlo Bock, Google’s senior vice president of people operations from 2006 to 2016. “And no, it wasn’t about the free food, lava lamps, and beanbags, if you ask him,” Michael Schneider noted in this Inc. article “Culture is not a buzzword anymore. With the evolution of the workplace, organizations have to leverage cultural strategies now to drive organizational alignment, foster ethical/risk-averse behavior, and as a result, positively impact the bottom line through increases in productivity.” However, experts warn against shortcuts to building a strong company culture. “There’s no hack to building a high-performing company culture,” Katie Burke wrote in another article for Inc. “However, there are some critical ingredients: empathy, dedication, iteration, and a team that understands there are no shortcuts in getting the employee experience right.” She suggested three ways to approach it the right way: 1. Build a strong foundation with values everyone knows and lives. 2. Don’t assume you know what’s working and what isn’t—ask for feedback from employees and candidates. 3. View culture as a business issue, not just an HR issue.

4. The importance of trust at work

Trust and psychological safety in the workplace help employees perform better, but there is more to creating such an environment than pleasantries and socializing. “There’s an important distinction between courtesy and candor,” Stuart Hearn wrote in Personnel Today. “It touches on our response to risk and failure, our willingness to ask for help, our ability to be humble and fallible. Ultimately, it’s about mastering our instincts in times of stress.” Hearn argued that the responsibility to create genuine trust falls to the leaders and managers. “As the manager, you set the tone,” he wrote. “You need to show that the barrier between you and the team is soft enough that they can share their thinking with confidence.” Here are Hearn’s key principles to engender trust: be clear, don’t concern yourself about socializing, give feedback, listen to employees, and commit to developing everyone. “The fundamental truths behind these points—good communication, a fair allocation of resources for development and a commitment to clarity and transparency on goals and objectives—are the building blocks for trust in the workplace,” he wrote.

5. The agile leadership paradox

What are the definitive traits of agile leaders? “Being an agile leader means being both an enabler and a disruptor at the same time,” Simon Hayward wrote in this HR Magazine article “This is the agile leadership paradox.” According to Hayward, enablers provide clarity of direction; build trust and show empathy; empower others; work together; and develop learning agility. “Agile leaders also need to help others embrace uncertainty and flourish by working in ways we hadn’t even heard of five years ago,” he wrote. Disruptors do this by questioning the status quo; being bold and decisive; developing digital literacy; creating new ways of thinking; and staying close to customer trends. “For some this may mean incremental change in response to competitive forces,” he wrote. “For others it may require wholesale reinvention.”

We hope you enjoyed our weekly talent news updates in 2019! We look forward to connecting with you in 2020!

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