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HR trends in 2020 – Predictions from an agile HR thought leader

What are the HR trends of 2020 – Predictions by Fabiola Eyholzer of Just Leading Solutions LLC, New York

Fabiola presented the 2020 predictions at SimCorp in Copenhagen. She gave a sneak preview of the top 10 with a focus on how they impact learning in agile organizations and how HR and the C-level must adapt to create the efficient learning organization of the future


Last November, I was fortunate to join a meetup hosted by SimCorp in Copenhagen, where Fabiola Eyholzer, Executive Advisor at Just Leading Solutions LLC, gave a sneak preview into her predictions for 2020 HR trends. She gave us a walk-through of the top 10 HR trends with a special focus on agile learning and development. Fabiola has many years of experience with agile transformations, learning and has helped many companies successfully navigate their agile journeys.

Fabiola took out time of her busy European schedule to give our readers a short interview about HR trends and how they help to focus efforts in the industry.

Thanks for taking the time to talk to our readers Fabiola. I am certain they will find your views on 2020 HR Trends both relevant and exciting. Before we dig into the trends projected for 2020, maybe you could give a little background about yourself. You are originally from Switzerland and are now living in the US, where you are heading Just Leading Solutions LLC. And if I recall correctly you started out in financial accounting?

Thank you for having me. You recall correctly. I started my career in finance and I am still a data gal at heart. I first worked in the controlling and later in strategy and process consulting before I moved into HR. That was 20 years ago and what can I say, I am still in HR and loving every moment of it. Because we get to work with people and companies who are willing to challenge and change the status quo.

So how did you move into lean and agile transformations for organizations?

Ten years ago, I was Partner at one of Europe’s leading HR consultancies and I was looking for a new leadership approach and that is when I discovered Agile. We implemented Scrum with our career starters -and it will come to no surprise to any Agile folks - with mind-blowing success. I could never have predicted nor fully imagined the change in the team nor the booster in collaboration, engagement and performance we achieved in the shortest of time. Agile and especially Agile HR has been my passion ever since and together with my team I advise and support HR organizations in their quest for HR Agility.

Your company has made predictions for the HR trends for several years. How did you come up with the idea of predicting HR trends for the coming year?

Times are very interesting and challenging for HR. As transformations consultants we are at the pulse of it and we can only serve our clients well if we can anticipate the challenges they will face tomorrow and help them get ready for it. Our clients expect us to look ahead and be ready to answer their question of “what will we face next”. And while we continuously consider where HR will go tomorrow, the trends give us a chance to once a year take stock and put our prioritized predications to the community. We get folks excited and engage about the future ahead. And this is an ongoing dialogue. We have people commenting and signing up and booking keynotes on trends all year round.

And the most obvious question here before the formal presentation of your 2020 HR Trends projections: How well did you score on your 2019 projections?

I must admit, we tend to be somewhat too optimistic with our trends. One of our predications 2019 was “HR increases the speed of delivery”. And while we see HR embracing the idea, many are still far from an iterative and incremental value delivery. Things are not always moving fast enough for our liking. For many companies, those trends are merely ideas; something they hear from us, but also the wider HR community, but they will not see the full effect or feel the pressure to respond to those trends until months or even years later. Whereas for our clients are first or at least early movers, hence, the trends are things they are likely to be working on (soon).

I was so lucky to join your presentation at SimCorp in Copenhagen last November, where you gave a sneak preview of your 2020 predictions. How did you come up with the top 10 trends that you presented there? Did the reaction from the audience surprise you or did you expect this feedback when you presented in the most ‘hyggelige’ country in the world?

The predications are based on countless interactions with HR professionals and thought leaders, as well as widespread research and our daily work as executive advisors and transformation consultants. But at the end of the day it is our own interpretations of things we see and hear. Obviously, people have different views; some challenge if the trends are the ‘right’ ones, others question if we have them in the ‘right’ order. We don’t know. We don’t pretend to know the future, only to share our thoughts. But that is the beauty of trends. The objective is to look ahead and engage in a dialogue as to where the journey may lead us. And that is certainly what happened at the SimCorp meetup. I especially noticed the energy in the room and the big crowd, and that despite the fact, that many could not reach us because of a traffic shutdown that evening. The group was highly engaged and we had some amazing conversations on the different trends, their impact and their strength. As to ‘hygge’ I admit I had to google it first. So, thank for teaching me something new. I learned two things: 1) it is pronounced “hue-guh” and 2) it describes a feeling or moment of extraordinary coziness. It is something very personal. It is about connecting with others, appreciating the small moments and feeling comfortable in ones surrounding. This sounds very much like the foundation of a human-centric company to me. Maybe that is why ‘hyggelige’ countries leading the way in the future of work?

From your talk it was very clear to me that the traditional HR department is up for change. What will be the path forward for HR in relation to the agile transformations many organizations go through now?

You are right. The future of work is here and HR professionals across the globe are working hard to create better places of work and, in the process, find their own role as drivers of business success. That is where Agile comes in to help the HR organization; from leveraging the business partner model, to bring agile ways of working to your Center of Expertise and applying lean thinking in Shared Service Centers. But HR is also continuing to reinvent HR practices to match agile people and organizations. But with so many organizations successfully leveraging agile, it begs the question, who will take ownership of Business Agility? Who will ensure the success of the transformation journey towards enterprise wide agility by leading, driving, and sustaining the organizational and cultural change that creates business results? In other words: The Business Agility lead is up for grabs – and we see more and more HR teams stepping up to the plate. And that is a very exciting path forward for HR.

You have since officially released your 2020 predications. Personally, I was in line with your prioritization for almost all the items. They all make sense to have as part of the HR trends for 2020, but can you provide our readers with some advice on how to operationalize the trends for an organization that is working on being agile?

Before you dive into the latest trends, take a step back and look at the road you have already taken and consider the journey ahead of you. Where do you want to go and how do our trends align with your ambitions? Once you know where your focus will be, you can start creating your roadmap and building out your initiatives. And those are likely to look different from one company to the next. After all, you want something that is impactful for you and aligns with your other efforts. If you like a spring partner to guide and challenge you through the best way to approach specific trends, don’t hesitate to reach out to myself or my team. We are here to help.

Thanks for taking the time to talk with us today Fabiola. It has been very good to learn more about what we get out of having HR trend predictions. Make sure to check out the 2020 HR Trends! Our readers can learn more about Fabiola and Just Leading Solutions LLC by going to the website or follow her on twitter.

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