19th June 2019

Deloitte’s 2019 Human Capital Trends in 1,000 Words

Each year, Deloitte publish a well-researched study of trends affecting HR.  This year’s report pack runs to 107 pages, plus videos.  What, you haven’t read it all yet?  Each year, we review, discuss and write a summarised version with our insights and implications.  Here’s what you need to know, in 1,000 words:

More of the Social Enterprise

In 2018, Deloitte outlined how organisations are now expected to be ‘social enterprises’; that is, they need to gain a social license to operate, and need to consider all stakeholders in what they do.  Transparency, equity and technology are driving this. The rise of millennials as a force, and the withering of trust in institutions like the church and government shine a light on organisations and the role society expects them to play.  This factor is now an entrenched aspect, and some 2019’s trends are extensions of this concept.

This year, Deloitte have categorised their usual 10 or so trends into three categories: The Future of the Workforce; the Future of the Organisation and the Future of HR.  Here’s what you need to know (in case you don’t have the time to read the whole 107-page experience):

The Future of the Workforce

The alternative workforce is now mainstream.

Contract, freelance or gig. This type of employment is now endemic across organisations, with flexibility in work arrangements potentially benefiting both employees and organisations. We first blogged on this in 2015, and in the USA and Europe this type of work has tripled in a short period. Side hustles are complimenting reduced hours in some people’s main jobs, and declining birth-rates and labour pool shortages have forced flexibility to be a major consideration.

From jobs to superjobs.

AI, robotics and automation is forcing companies to redesign jobs, making them more digital, multidisciplinary and data-driven. As jobs become less routine, the human element in a role will become more important and specialised, and combining critical human aptitudes with technology-drive productivity will be key in getting the best from the opportunities these changes are heralding in.

21st Century Leadership.

With the rapid evolution of work, the demands of leadership changes. Team-based work structures demand new ways of leading, across networks and teams. There is a big gap between what organisations feel they need in terms of leadership skills, and what they have at present. The new skills are centred on dealing with ambiguity, understanding digital and AI, and being more nuanced with a variety of internal and external stakeholders. How rapidly these skills can be developed and deployed will be the challenge.

The Future of the Organisation

Human Experience; putting meaning back into work.

While many organisations are focused on the ”employee experience”, the real challenge is in addressing the “human experience”. That is, addressing the need that people have to capture real meaning from their work. Organisations are rapidly seeking to give their people a greater sense of trust and belonging. Beyond rewards and support, we need to focus on job design and enrichment through the nature of the work itself.

Teams, teams, teams.

Central in the 2018 report, the transformative shift from hierarchies to cross-functional teams is accelerating in 2019. The Deloitte research suggests that the data is becoming stronger. Team-based organisations are driving stronger performance outcomes, helping companies accelerate development and providing more rewarding work engagements. The learning agenda is getting more focused on building team skills and in equipping leaders to lead in less directive ways (from leader to coach).

The rewards gap.

With the dramatic changes in job design and organisation structures, a gap in effective reward strategies is growing. New types of rewards and perks are emerging to satisfy the changing expectations of employees. Yet, most organisations are reporting dissatisfaction with their ability to keep up and meet everyone’s expectations. Rising inequality, ballooning executive pay, and stagnant wage growth are exacerbating the rewards puzzle, and the issues are developing social and political heat.  It’s a vexing question that HR teams are struggling with, and at present, its more guesswork than science.

The Future of HR

More than Talent Acquisition.

If you thought the War for Talent was a McKinsey sponsored skirmish in the late 90’s, think again. It’s back, driven by low unemployment rates and skill shortages in new, technology driven jobs. There’s a mismatch between some graduate skillsets, where deep functionally skilled graduates are lacking the collaboration and team skills needed in today’s organisations. Rather than responding when vacancies arise, smart organisations are getting ahead of the curve through talent pooling and flexible sourcing models. The majority of our own firm’s previous retained search work has been replaced by talent pipelining, as we help clients meet a wide range of acquisition challenges with proactive, fast and flexible solutions.

Learning in the flow of life.

Learning is one of the highest rated challenges in Deloitte’s 2019 report. Employees rate ‘opportunity to learn’ as a key reason they change organisations, and given the talent acquisition challenges, organisations are responding by lifting their level of training and development. But rather seeing this as a separate activity, learning is being embedded into work. Shorter, just in time and application-focused training is replacing long-form programs. A new culture of life-long learning is emerging as a necessary table stake to compete for the best talent.

Talent mobility is paramount.

With the war for talent and new levels of investment in skills, organisations are seeking to better utilise their current workforce by deploying them where needed. This is a two-edged sword though. Organisations are expecting their best people to be mobile and are developing expectations and systems to facilitate this. At the same time, employees are reporting it can at time be easier to find new roles outside their organisation than inside. This internal market failure is obviously frustrating for both parties, and HR teams need to better respond to this, both directly through human intervention and in investing in HR systems and smart technology that can solve this and other problems.


In many ways, the 2019 Human Capital trends build on those from 2018, with some, such as the reshaping of work and organisations, accelerating at a pace.  Already, we’re seeing some of our clients responding to these and trying to stay ahead of the curve.

If you want to discuss these trends and their impact on your organisation, get in touch with us and we can help develop a strategy to respond.

Categories: General

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