Predictions for 2015: Redesigning the Organization for A Rapidly Changing World


Bersin Predictions for 2015

This year our Predictions for 2015 has some hard-hitting new ideas to consider – in this article I will give you some highlights, and you can download the report here.

Top Line: Enormous Changes are Ahead

2015 is going to be a big year in the world of corporate talent. The economy has improved (near full employment in the US), the job market for technical and professional skills is hot, and technology is radically changing the whole nature of work.

Thinking back over my 35 years as a working professional, I barely recognize what work is like today. I was joking with my children about how I used to go to work with a briefcase filled with papers, there were no computers, no voicemail, and only an office of people and a telephone to work with. We had a steno pool (people who typed letters for us), and I had an old-fashioned boss who sat in the corner office with his tie on and his jacket buttoned.  He was really a wonderful manager, but it was all about "doing your job" and getting a good performance appraisal.

Today we work at home, in coffee shops, on airplanes, and often late at night. We interact with people all over the world easily, and we have tools and technologies at our fingertips to find information, write, communicate, and analyze data like never before. And thanks to the growth of cognitive computing technologies, we will all soon have thinking machines in our phones, machines that monitor where we are, what work to do, what customer problems to solve, and even what HR problems to address.

Much of this transition has been positive, but much has also been difficult. Many of us are "overwhelmed employees" and our research shows that employee engagement and retention is at an all time low. While many people are still looking for work, more and more people are getting fed up with the 24/7 work environment around us, so they go to social websites like LinkedIn or Glassdoor and jobs are offered to them.

The concepts of "integrated talent management" are rapidly changing, with most HR practices being reinvented.  In fact I'd say that talent management as we've known it over the last ten years is about to go away and be reinvented, with a focus on what I call Engagement, Experience, and Environment.  (Read my latest article "Is Corporate Talent Management Dead?" if you want more on that topic in particular.)

The ten predictions we write about for 2015 cover topics from employee engagement to new technologies for HR, a whole new focus on culture, renewed strategies to develop leadership, and the need to revitalize HR and invest much more heavily in analytics. But overall the big trend is this:  almost everything we've done traditionally in HR has to be adjusted (or re-engineered). The younger, more mobile, more agile workforce and workplace we now live in demands new approaches: flexible work policies, more focus on empowerment and skills development, a more humane work environment, and both financial and workplace benefits which are locally relevant.

As we look at 2015, we see five fundamental shifts which dramatically impact corporate talent, leadership, and HR strategies.

1. Technology has removed the barrier between work and life.

Companies have to focus on culture, environment and simplification.

We are working all the time, emails and messages are streaming in 24/7, and information, conversations, and content is literally streaming at us wherever we go. The work "environment" we live in today is radically different: people work wherever they want, leading to a huge wave of open offices; over-work is a tremendous challenge, and people are not sure how to deal with the overwhelming amount of information they receive each day. Design thinking, simplification, and ease of use are the new mantras for corporate talent programs.

2. Employee engagement, culture, and leadership are lifeline issues.

Glassdoor data shows a split in companies. There are huge segment of companies who are "highly engaged" and a similarly large number of companies whos employees are "actively disengaged." The highly engaged companies are attracting the best people, delivering greater customer service, and innovating better. These companies are focused on mission, culture, and leadership – and they understand that people are not "talent," they are people – with their own personal needs and aspirations.

This focus on engagement has impacted everything we do, because ultimately employee engagement is all a business has. Companies have to rethink their coaching and development strategies, their career mobility strategies, and how they develop and select leaders. Today's leader focuses on "building a highly engaged team" not just "delivering on business results."

Unfortunately our research shows that the gaps in corporate leadership are wider than ever. Research by Deloitte and others (highlighted in the report) will show you how leadership development, assessment, and coaching has to be a top focus for 2015.

3. Learning, capabilities, and skills are the currency of success.

From both an individual and organizational standpoint, technical and professional capabilities are now the currency of success. If you can attract or develop better scientists, engineers, sales people, or functional experts you will beat your competition. And once you attract these people you must give them a compelling learning environment to stay current, as technology advances at an accelerating rate. L&D organizations and strategies have not kept up, and we are in an era where corporate learning is going through as much change is we witnessed in the early 2000s when e-learning hit the scene.

4.  HR as a function is at a crossroads and must reinvent itself.

Underlying most of these issues is the need to reskill and re-energize HR. It's interesting that the US organizations SHRM and HCI are now competing to sell HR certifications. The problem is not one of certification, it's one of redefining what HR professionals do. Company after company I talk with is going through a restructure of their HR team, moving HR closer to the business, and reskilling generalists into finely tuned business consultants.  I believe this is a decade-long transition taking place within the HR function.

5.  Data is now integral to all decisions HR must make.

Finally, we are entering a talent world where people data is now central to every decision we make. Organizations that are investing in analytics teams, analytics tools, and analytics expertise are going to far outperform their peers. Who to hire, who to promote, how much to pay, how to develop, what next job to take – all these decisions are now "data enabled" and we expect HR technology, which is becoming more integrated every day, to become more and more like "instrumentation of your organization"- giving you data to improve organizational performance every day.

Read our predictions and join me on our webinar on Friday, January 23, 2015, at 2PM EST. (Register Here.)

This is my eleventh year writing the Bersin Predictions for the coming year, and I think the changes ahead are more transformational than ever before. I hope you find the report educational, inspiring, and helpful as you plan your year. I am thankful to the world community of talent and HR leaders I get to work with every day.

And as always I look forward to your comments and feedback.  (Click here to download report.)


Josh Bersin

Josh Bersin writes on the ever-changing landscape of business-driven learning, HR and talent management. His favorite topics include strategic talent management, creating high-impact learning organizations, and how organizations drive business change and competitive advantage through talent strategy and technology.

41 thoughts on “Predictions for 2015: Redesigning the Organization for A Rapidly Changing World

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  4. Very interesting report. Although none of the trends are particularly new, the ideas presented to handle each one of them provide innovative approaches. The prologue is what really caught my attention though. There certainly is a dramatic transformation happening in the way people and organizations relate to each other. This emerging transformation questions our existing approaches for dealing with, and thinking about, talent as a company-owned resource. It may even require we use a new language when talking about “HR issues”. In the company of the future, will concepts like “pipeline” or “succession planning” have any meaning? Will “learning and development” and “performance management” serve any purpose at all? In a more neighborhood-like organization, talent moves from resource to partner. HR will have to dramatically change its approach from a manager of resources (call it people or talent) to a manager of partnerships and, to make things more complex, individual partnerships. Gone will be the days of thinking about categories of employees as each person will be a category unto himself/herself. Companies will have to compete for talent more than ever and culture will definitely become the reason why a person choses to partner with company A or B. Most companies, however, are not fully there; they are living in a transitional phase that requires an ambidextrous approach to be able to deal with the old and the new in a way that prepares them for success in the future without jeopardizing their present.

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