EngagementFake news, ethical leadership and Gen Z: the workplace of 2020

Fake news, ethical leadership and Gen Z: the workplace of 2020

Nicole Alvino, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer at SocialChorus, gives her 2020 workplace predictions.

The battle against “fake news” in the workplace will come to a head

In 2019, we saw the proliferation of “fake news” spill out of the political sphere and make its way into organisations. Companies are now battling new frontiers we’ve never seen before – from the fight against deepfakes, to “digital water coolers” running rampant among employees, to the spread of social and collaboration platforms that make it easy for anyone to spread disinformation. And all the while, employee engagement is only becoming more critical, as organisations must effectively engage and retain employees to win the war for talent. In 2020, these forces will come to a head for business leaders as they look to combat the infiltration of “fake news” and deliver a unified message to employees. Organisations will risk losing trust and transparency with their workforce or turn to new strategies, such as creating a single source of truth for company communications, establishing “truth ambassadors” as trusted sources and building mechanisms for transparency and feedback.

Expect increased investment in employee engagement to keep up with digital workplace challenges

Amid the digital workplace shift, current technologies will be exchanged for new ones and new solutions adopted internally, as organisations race to create a more connected, engaged and productive workforce. The employee engagement space will be one to watch as investment continues in collaboration and “productivity” tools like Slack, which are often touted as an answer to this issue of employee engagement. But with so many devices and employee preferences in play, the type of peer-to-peer communication offered by these tools doesn’t deliver the alignment that companies are really after. Companies will need to focus on a multi-channel strategy and delivering information, from benefits updates to compliance training to company news, from a unified platform to reach all employees. These types of employee communications platforms will allow managers and supervisors to communicate quickly and seamlessly with team members whether they are behind a desk, in the field or on a factory floor.

Ethical leadership will make or break the bottom line

Throughout 2019, a myriad of factors have forced companies to recognise the importance of ethical leadership. From employee protests and walkouts to GDPR and the data privacy troubles of companies like Facebook, ethics has become the crux of both employee satisfaction and business success as employees demand more out of their employers. Especially with forecasts predicting a potential economic slowdown, in 2020 we will see the C-suite grasp ethical practices as a competitive advantage, revamping and restructuring corporate social responsibility programmes and efforts to demonstrate their commitment. Ethical leadership will no longer be an option, but an imperative that directly impacts the bottom line, pushing companies to build ethics into policies and practices, place a renewed focus on company culture and seek ways to measure the impact of their efforts.

IT will become more user experience-focused and drive the employee experience

IT can no longer be all about point solutions and ensuring governance, compliance and ticket velocity; it must connect to broader business objectives, as the need to recruit and retain top talent becomes more imperative. As the workforce continues to evolve and organisations shift toward the digital workplace, IT will increasingly focus on employee adoption, usage and the end-user experience, delivering technology and strategies that meet employee demands and rising expectations. That means everything from more automated processes to mobile-first platforms so employees can work faster, smarter and better, wherever they may be. In the coming year, we will see more technology-focused initiatives aimed at supporting a culture of transparency and collaboration and driving organisational alignment, all of which are central to improving the employee experience.

Employee engagement strategies will centre on the multi-generational workforce

We’ve all heard the talk of millennials and Gen Z taking over the workplace, and organisations can no longer ignore this seismic demographic shift when it comes to the employee experience. Businesses today are facing an employee engagement crisis, grappling with more factors and distractions among employees than ever before – from decreased attention spans to the proliferation of chat tools, social platforms and consumer-like technologies that have changed how employees consume information. With so many varied preferences, behaviours and devices across generations, organisations will need to adopt a multi-generational, multi-channel engagement strategy in order to win employees’ mindshare in 2020. This type of approach allows for flexibility, targeting and personalisation so businesses can deliver the right message to the right demographic – and retain workers before they go elsewhere.

IT hiring initiatives will become more “soft skills”-focused and personality-based

To succeed in digital transformation initiatives, the workforce must be flexible, creative and motivated to drive change. While IT has traditionally focused on solving problems in the quickest and most cost-effective way, this hasn’t left much room for creative problem solving, in turn stunting team collaboration and company growth. In fact, according to a Gallup poll, only 2 in 10 employees agree their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work, and this is costing businesses between $960 million and $1.2 trillion a year. In the coming year, IT leaders will increasingly look for employees who can see the bigger picture and work with a sense of purpose on top of knowing the tricks of the trade. Creative employees who can take a larger business problem and present a technical solution, or who can come up with “what if” scenarios to develop new solutions, will help teams become more collaborative and goal-oriented and improve the employee experience through technology.

Insights from employee communications will deliver organisational intelligence

Communications and HR teams will adopt a data-driven approach to employee engagement and communications, one that focuses on micro-moments and behaviour instead of relying on annual or even quarterly surveys. They will implement quantitative methods that correlate effectiveness of communications with business performance – from reduction of safety incidents to delivering business transformation to sales. This will allow leaders to get a real-time pulse on their organisation that will be invaluable to predict and enable high performers, as well as predict and intervene on retention issues.

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