Think about the big picture things that you want to achieve over the year ahead, for you, your team, your organisation, and then keep them in your focus and plans.

Below we provide some guidance on where to start for 2020.

Your development

The Future of jobs (2018) research by the World Economic Forum (WEF) found that employers expect that, by 2022, the skills required to perform most jobs will have shifted significantly. Global average skills stability - the proportion of core skills required to perform a job that will remain the same - is expected to be about 58%, meaning an average shift of 42% in required workforce skills over 2018 to 2022 period. And by 2022, more than 50% of employees will require significant reskilling and upskilling. Think about that, nearly 50% of your skills will be obsolete in the next five years, and you'll have to acquire nearly 50% of new skills!

Therefore, ongoing investment in your professional development has to be central to your 2020 plan. While its often easiest to think about this as new knowledge to acquire, technology/systems to get up to speed on, what is probably more important is to invest in your personal skills. In particular, think about your leadership and influencing skills, which you need to draw on to an increasing extent at every level to support you to get work done through and with others. While technology will automate many tasks, dealing with people is predicted to become more important for success (people and cognitive skills will be the most recession-proof, WEF 2020).

Secondly consider your own resilience, the tools, techniques and supports that you have to draw on as you navigate a landmine of change at a quickening rate. The CIPD’s new Profession Map is a great source of behavioural examples of what the profession needs to demonstrate for the future.

Consider the ongoing development of your team and colleagues. How can you embed a practice of meeting your team on a one-to-one basis to discuss their development plans and progress. Time to learn is generally not adequately allowed for on a day-to-day basis, and getting them to put time aside to enhance their skills may be your best tool for them to perform at their best. However they are most likely to follow your leadership, so show them how you are investing in yourself. (Contact us on how the CIPD can help you map the strength and weaknesses of your team against our new Profession Map.)

Your employees

CIPD Ireland HR practices 2019 research found that 43% of employers had experienced an increase in employee turnover. If you’re among that group, the bad news is there is no simple fix. The good news is, there are identifiable actions that you can take so that your employees are less likely to walk out the door.

Workplace culture is a central issue. Staff who decide to stay are often those who feel valued and fairly treated - including when it comes to pay. They are people who feel they have good work to do and opportunities to develop and grow their skills and abilities. A workplace that succeeds in retaining people is one where employees have a say and some control over their day, have managers and leaders whom they feel care about them and that they believe in, and where they feel they can meet their own needs in the areas of career and work-life balance.

These take time to build, but for now, here are some key things to consider:

  • Host briefings for managers to prepare them so they can hold one-to-one career conversations with each employee on the year ahead. The conversation is not all about the work to be done, but how the individual would like to develop and how they can work towards their own objectives. What learning would help them be at their best? Managers have to listen, not be defensive, and be open to what is feasible.

  • Create a conversation on flexible working and how it might work better for the business. CSO figures released in December show about only 18% of respondents worked remotely, generally one or two days a week, and mainly in the private sector. Start a debate on how your organisation could offer more flexibility in when, where and how individuals work. Be ready to tackle managers on this, as that is where resistance often lies.

  • While effective well-being has to be embedded in the company’s culture, it is worth introducing or reinvigorating well-being initiatives. Get an employee group to lead on actions to improve mental health, physical health and nutrition to help to engage and support employees. A clear action plan for activities through the year will help to align the organisation with employee values. These types of initiatives have been found to have a positive outcomes for employees. Overall, CIPD Ireland research has shown that more than half (55%) of workplaces with a proper well-being plan see improvements in employee morale and engagement.

  • Plan a volunteering day, where staff give some of their time to work for a charity. While best as part of a wider social responsibility strategy, participating in a charity activity is very powerful and helps to build insights and skills among employees.

Overall communication and support is key, so make sure the managers in your company are ready!

Your organisation

The impact of technology and socio-economic change on jobs and skills is unending. With the changing division of labour between workers and machines, the WEF doesn’t predict massive unemployment, but articulates a net positive outlook for jobs. It points to two parallel trends: large-scale decline in some roles as tasks become automated or redundant, and large-scale growth in new products and services, and the associated new tasks and jobs.

So while automation, artificial intelligence (AI) and other workplace technologies are bringing major changes to work and employment, CIPD research shows that HR feels it has little influence over strategic decision-making around these and is not sufficiently involved in the operational delivery of technology change. This creates risks and can impact on job quality and employee well-being, for example.

So now is your time to take leadership and ensure that HR gets ready to put itself at the centre of technology implementation decisions and employees are directly involved. We need to ensure that employees have a meaningful voice on matters affecting them, including the ways in which their job roles could be augmented or changed by technology. Where changes to roles are significant, employees must be supported throughout the transition - through effective people management as well as reskilling or upskilling - and be able to add value to such a transition.

Fundamentally dealing with technology in a people-centric way is often a culture change to make sure that the people implications are fully considered and individuals are supported to enable and deliver the technical changes required.

This creates an opportunity to assess the capability of your team and your organisation. Some steps to consider:

  • Explore how job design, organisational policies and processes, values and behaviours can be applied when designing, developing and delivering new technologies in your workplace.

  • Take account of the needs of diverse groups within the organisation when making decisions about how technology is used in the workplace. Involve employees in decisions on the design and implementation of new technologies that could augment or change their roles.

  • Provide training and support to employees in the lead-up to - and following - technological change. Encourage individuals to voice their concerns.

  • Support the organisation with change management approach and tools, to build in manager and employee engagement in the process and its success.


While compliance and managing employee protections has long been central to the work of HR, it is now recognised that each of us in HR has to show ethical leadership to ensure that these needs are respected. So when you look at things like employment policies, the diversity question is now on everybody’s mind, but we have to be able to follow through to build equality and inclusion in how we work.

Demonstrating impact with human capital data and insights will show your successes. So, for 2020, support your organisation to be more transparent on the culture and how you recruit, manage and develop people, and provide better working lives.

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