Humans of HR: moving into the roaring 20s

December 19, 2019 Mike Wood

5-minute read

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Now that we are at the end the decade, it only makes sense to take a step back and look at everything that happened: Trump, Bieber, #MeToo, social media. What will we be saying about the last decade 20 years from now when our kids are going to nostalgia parties with face tattoos and fidget spinners?

I asked our Humans of HR group to take a look at the last decade through an HR lens and pick the key trends from the past while looking toward the future.

What was the biggest HR trend of the last decade?

“The dominant trend within HR for the past decade has been technological disruption. Nearly every HR process is now automated in a way that was hard to imagine even ten years ago, requiring HR to develop new competencies that weren't required in the past. More significantly, though, is the disruption that has come from social media. Pay inequity, poor working conditions, and sexual harassment have all come to the forefront for no bigger reason than the existence of social media platforms that create transparency and shine light in places that desperately need it.” – Jason Lauritsen, employee engagement expert and author

“Digital transformation and the digitization of talent management.” – Mervyn Dinnen, HR and talent analyst and author

“There are lots of answers to this question, but I'm going to go with social media. I remember early in the decade many companies still did not embrace social media as a viable recruitment or branding tool and had policies in place strictly prohibiting its use at work. Now companies are bought in, using it at a high level and encouraging employees to share on their own networks.” – Sabrina Baker, CEO at Acacia HR Solutions

“The focus on culture, and as a part of that, understanding that employees should be heard and feel like they belong in our workplaces.” – Kate Bischoff, employment attorney, speaker, and HR consultant at tHRive Law & Consulting LLC

“Employee engagement and HR on social media.” – Gemma Toth, HR consultant

“I believe HR leaders both found themselves and were discovered by their leadership in the last decade. While it's been a steady progression for most HR pros from being in a primarily administrative role to a more strategic role for many years (and still ongoing), I think the last decade was really the ‘Decade of HR.’ With the advent and pace of technology development, the changing demographics and desires of the workforce, talent being more accessible globally, and the need for businesses to be more agile, among many other things, the need for strong HR leaders in businesses of all sizes has increased. Within the last decade, HR has begun to change from being a profession that people ‘fell into’ to a career track that can be a viable path to senior leadership. I believe that HR leaders truly hold the keys to competitive advantage for the businesses they lead and serve, and the past decade put them firmly in the driver's seat.” Jennifer McClure, keynote speaker and CEO of Unbridled Talent and DisruptHR

What should we be looking for in 2020?

“My expectation is that we'll see a lot of focus and hopefully progress on diversity, equity, and inclusion work in 2020. The time seems to be arriving for employers to finally get serious about these issues. It feels like leaders are finally waking up to the true importance and value of diversity.” – Jason Lauritsen, employee engagement expert and author

“Attraction and hiring will be in the spotlight – understanding the people we need and how to find them and assess their capabilities.” – Mervyn Dinnen, HR and talent analyst and author

“Again, there is a lot, but I think as tech continues to evolve you will see more data-driven HR decisions. We have seen this increase in recent years, but going forward all businesses will have so much more data to help them make decisions and implement stronger HR strategy.” – Sabrina Baker, CEO at Acacia HR Solutions.

“Recession. I don’t want to be all doom and gloom, but recession is a reality that many organizations are likely to face, including layoffs and an overall slowdown. It will be particularly important to figure out how we maintain our momentum on diversity and inclusion while our economy is retracting.” – Kate Bischoff, employment attorney, speaker, and HR consultant at tHRive Law & Consulting LLC

“Reconnecting the human touch and humane policies in the workplace.” – Gemma Toth, HR consultant

“While we'll continue to see some amazing HR pros being recognized for their leadership and the new and creative ways they are addressing workforce challenges, I believe we'll also see assignments in HR being critical for high-potential leaders from all areas of the organization. Understanding people strategy and how to align it with the business strategy will be more critical than ever for senior leaders in 2020 and beyond, and those who truly get it will lead the most successful organizations.” – Jennifer McClure, keynote speaker and CEO of Unbridled Talent and DisruptHR


Looks like the biggest trend of the last decade was the advancement of technology, making everything transparent. Social media has given a voice to the oppressed and shined a light on harassment. Moving into 2020, companies need to be better prepared to take care of their employees and create a culture that allows them to thrive both in their jobs and at home.    


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About the Author

Mike Wood

Mike was the former Industry Relations Manager at Workhuman.

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