New research among more than 7,000 business executives, HR leaders and employees across sixteen geographies has identified the four most important global HR and human capital trends for 2020 and 2021.

According to the research by Mercer, the four top trends have already increasingly been shaping the face of the human resources landscape for a number of years, but these are now accelerating in importance amid the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on economy and society. “The trends are ramping up changes in the way organisations globally are working and will continue to work into the future,” stated the report.

With a new, more responsible mandate emerging, the challenge for business is to rethink what makes corporations successful. Although 85% of executives agree that the organisation’s purpose should extend beyond shareholder primacy, only 35% deliver on a multi-stakeholder model today.

The majority of the C-suite agrees more needs to be done: 68% of executives want to accelerate progress on environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics in 2020, and 69% believe HR should update its success models to reflect the experience economy. However, with responsibility for many ESG metrics and culture change outcomes sitting primarily with HR (71% of CHROs shoulder the responsibility for culture change, compared with between 16% and 29% of other executives), more shared responsibility is required.

Much of an organisation’s success depends on employees trusting that their company is taking a holistic view of their careers, wealth and well-being. Yet career pipelines have tightened in recent years. As many as 72% of older workers say they plan to work past retirement age and 55% of Gen X say longevity in the workplace is limiting progression. Gen Z also want more transparency on the effect of career choices and the long-term outlook.

An intriguing finding of the 2020 HR Trends report is that employees who know the lifespan of their skills feel more positive about the future. Employees whose companies are transparent about which jobs will change are more likely to be thriving (72% versus 56%).

As the Covid-19 pandemic impacts productivity, better management of older workers and good financial advice for all generations will be part of creating shared value. More than three-quarters (78%) of employees want long-term financial planning initiatives. Meanwhile 75% of employees who feel in control of designing their retirement say they are thriving, compared with 29% who lack the control they desire.

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