4 Talent Trends from Mercer Study Point to Curation of Work, Brand Resonance



Leading companies and employees are seeking more international opportunities as well as more “relationship focused” and “collaborative” work. As a result, global mobility managers can expect a 73 percent surge in workforce disruption this year, up from 26 percent in 2018, according to the Mercer Global Talent Trendy study for 2019.  

The study involved 7,300 respondents, including 800 C-executives; 1,600+ HR leaders; 4,800+ employees; 16 geographies and 9 industry sectors.

More than half of executives are also expecting AI and automation to replace one in five of their organization’s current jobs, but the World Economic Forum is quick to point out that AI and automation will also create 58 million net new jobs by 2022.

There is also the current trade war between the United States and China; the relentless march of competitors and the shifting opportunities offered by technology to consider. Still, these four trends may even outlast all the geopolitical tensions and migration issues in the world.


Redesigning jobs and moving people to where future value will be created

Global mobility professionals need an integrated people strategy to prepare for the future of work for those itching to get better work opportunities in different cities

Leading companies are evaluating automation opportunity in various jobs, typically starting with those that directly impact customers, those with significant optimization potential, and those that build future skills. The trick is working out the magnitude of change for a given role or job family and deciding the organization’s appetite for that change.

Nearly one-third (30 percent) of companies believe they are able to change at speed, up from 18 percent in 2018, but as companies move toward flatter work structures and more agile work cultures, the advantages of restructuring diminish.

Only challenge is for HR to reinvent itself, as it has created silos in talent acquisition, compensation and benefits, mobility, and learning which have created a fractured employee experience and distance the people agenda from emerging business needs.

Organizations are moving people to business areas with greater return, experimenting with new technology, moving an office closer to vital talent pools, or investing in non-traditional talent by creating new pathways into skilled jobs.


Learn from data to create a brand proposition that attracts the talent you want

Employees are active investors in the companies they choose to work with, so organizations must build a brand that affirms the soundness of that investment. Window-dressing perks and slick portals are not enough; more important is how the brand is infused into day-to-day practices and whether companies stand up for the values they put forth.

Over a third (38 percent) of executives (nearly double last year) see taking on more responsibility for societal issues as something that will impact their organization in the next two years. The power of the collective voice can amplify the brand — and employees are willing, reporting that they feel a greater sense of belonging to their company than to their profession, function, team, or boss.

In this transparent environment, HR is as much a custodian of the brand as the marketing department. In fact, many companies are borrowing from their consumer brand, and leveraging techniques such as design thinking and conjoint analysis, to augment their employer brand.

For example, MasterCard extended its Priceless campaign into its employee value

proposition (EVP) by showcasing priceless career experiences. And Red Bull launched a Give Wings to Your Career initiative to help individuals discover and leverage their strengths — everyone who plays the Wingfinder online game becomes part of the company’s

Yes, attracting top talent, and continuing to attract them after they are on board, remains a priority. What has changed is employee perceptions about what makes a top employer. Job seekers care as much about the way the company conducts business, as they do about the business it is in.


Make work simple, intuitive, and digitally enabled to help thrive

With the volume of emails we receive and the constant ping of texts and instant messages, the amount of information in the modern workplace can be overwhelming. Curation is one antidote to this data overload.

Just as retailers personalize digital advertisements to engage customers, companies can make the day-to-day work experience more relevant for individual employees. But each employee’s experience depends, to a large extent, also on frictionless digital collaboration. A truly digital experience for employees refers to their ability to access work documents remotely, carry out HR tasks intuitively, or easily collaborate and innovate with colleagues.

Enabling the workforce to thrive requires a redesign of the work experience to ensure the right information and opportunities are visible at the right time, and to foster employees’ sense of connection to each other and to their company.


Inspire a growth mindset by redesigning structures, workflows, and talent strategies

As the one function that touches every individual in an organization and appreciates the employee experience, HR has a unique opportunity to lead the way on transformation efforts. And yet, today, only two in five HR leaders participate in the idea generation stage of major change projects

To ensure the Human Agenda remains at the heart of change, HR needs a permanent place at the drafting table, rather than being a late-to-the-party guest. HR leaders are ready to expand their contribution beyond narrow work streams, with 87% feeling confident about taking on organizational transformation. When HR is bold, the business benefits: 53% of high-growth organizations say HR is involved in kick-starting major change (compared to 39% of modest-growth organizations).

To have the capacity to lead on transformation efforts, HR first needs to rethink the HR lifecycle. At a minimum, this requires adopting new technology (including direct access tools, AI, and chatbots), focusing on the employee experience, and embracing agile ways of working. Together, these can help strip away non-value- adding activities and create space for redesign. Delivering this change may also necessitate breaking down traditional mindsets within the business about how the function can add value.

Organizations’ digital journeys demonstrate that the employee experience has begun to take center stage. In fact, addressing employees’ expectations of consumer-grade digital technologies remains one of the C-suite’s top workforce concerns. When the digital journey started for many companies five years ago, it was about redesigning HR processes and improving service outcomes. Today, the focus is on improving the candidate and employee experience. A top AI investment for HR this year include chabots (41 percent) as a way to improve employee self-service.