Human Resources

10 Key HR Insights from the Mercer Global Talent Trends Study 2019



This year’s Mercer Global Talent Trends Study has been released and, as always, there are some fascinating insights for HR professionals.

As they look towards the future of work, talent planning and retention – this gives a comprehensive overview of how companies are preparing for this future.

This Mercer talent management study collates opinions from 7,300 respondents, made up of C-suite executives, HR leaders and employees. It also features insight and opinion from 16 geographies and 9 segmented industries.

We’ve scoured this report and have 10 key insights to share with you…




60% of Companies Plan to Automate More in 2019

If you’re paying attention to the latest tech headlines, this statistic will come as no surprise to you. More companies are finding ways to take their day-to-day roles away from workers and pushing them towards automation.

Many of us view automation as a future trend, rather than something that is actively happening right now. However, this statistic shows that companies are aware of and actively working towards automation in the workplace.

Within the Mercer talent report, it was also found that the implementation of chatbots to improve employee self-service and AI to identify employees at risk of leaving were also on the radar to invest in within the coming year.


43% of HR Leaders are Redesigning Jobs to Prepare for the Future

As more regular tasks are subject to automation, HR leaders are redesigning roles to prepare for this not-too-distant future. They’re seeking to add more value to these jobs, with the menial tasks removed from the job description.

This will be a large-scale shift for most companies, as they look to improve the ROI on human capital at every stage in the hierarchy. While this will generally include a learning curve and investment in software, the long-term rewards are being emphasised at these companies.




81% of HR Teams are Investing in Tech to Improve the Employee Experience

Utilising new tools to improve the employee experience makes for happier staff who stick around for longer. Whether you want to reduce the number of no shows on their first day or simply to reward your employees with ease, there’s a tech solution for that.

With the majority of teams investing in this, if you’re not doing so then you’ll be falling behind. Using this kind of tech empowers employees to use self-service processes and this will save you time. This also reassures them through onboarding and ensures that managers are giving recognition.

Not sure where to start? Check out this blog all about useful HR tools.


Thriving Employees are More Likely to Work for Companies that Support Flexible Working

Valuable, thriving employees are highly sought after in most companies. If you’re struggling to attract these workers, then your rigid schedules may be to blame. Thriving employees have been found to be 3x more likely to work for companies that support flexible working initiatives.

Without these, thriving workers can feel overmanaged, lacking in autonomy and frustrated. An experience such as this in a previous role can be enough to put an employee off a rigid role for life.

It has been reported that it pays to talk flexible working with your staff, but this may actually impact the number of employees that are willing to work with you in future too.




Only 25% of HR Leaders use Analytics to Understand New Hires

Analytics are rapidly forming more and more of the HR profession, with an increased focus on the numbers. We’re using data to a higher degree in many parts of the profession, but progress is lagging behind when it comes to understanding the candidates that we attract.

The case for collating this data is strong, as without it you don’t know which initiatives make your workplace attractive to new applicants. If you’ve been putting an onus on CSR, perks or outreach to graduates, you want to be able to measure the effects of these.

With the right analysis, you can place a higher emphasis on the campaigns that are driving brand awareness and bringing in new hires.


Both HR and Employees Want to See More Diverse Rewards

The top priority for both employees and HR leaders was reported as the desire for the organisation to offer more diverse rewards. It’s clear that our perception of workplace compensation has changed, but not all companies are making it a priority to do something about it.

This is a strong tactic to attract and retain top talent, so it’s no surprise that this is a priority for those in HR. With the right rewards in place, organisations can employ talent beyond their fiscal means.

Salary can become less important when there are other benefits in play, such as childcare, refreshments, flexible working or increased holiday allowance.




Organisations that Value Digital Progress Tend to See HR as a Significant Contributor

It comes as no surprise that innovative organisations are 6x more likely to see the HR function as a significant contributor to the business. Modern HR departments have moved from administration to high-level strategy, and forward-thinking businesses do well to recognise HR’s potential impact.

Digitising and automating essential HR and payroll tasks has partly enabled this shift, leaving the HR department free to focus on strategic aims that tie directly to business objectives, such as employee engagement, recruitment, succession planning, and L&D. This helps HR teams demonstrate their value and contribute directly to business success.

Plus, organisations that are shifting to digital methods and processes will often need HR’s expertise and input when implementing their digital transformation strategy.

By recognising that HR is a valuable strategic partner, leadership and HR can work in tandem to improve the workplace and drive innovation


The Majority of Employees want a Clearly Defined Job Description

This trend is a global one, as employees want to know exactly what their job entails. This covers both new talent browsing job descriptions and those currently in a function. With many roles diversifying and evolving, it’s ever more important to define the competencies for the role.

As well as clarifying the job with the employee, this also protects the company should these duties be neglected. If you warn someone that a duty isn’t being taken care of, they could simply counter that they weren’t aware of this part of their job role.

Investing time to update job descriptions can seem unnecessary, but it’s clear that this is part of a good employee experience.




79% of Executives Expect That Gig and Freelance Workers Will Replace Some Full-Time Staff

Gig mentality is common among workers these days and companies want to use this to their advantage. While not every role is suitable for these workers, utilising them effectively could reduce the wage bill of an organisation.

Having these employees working on a demand and supply basis has a variety of benefits. As well as saving money on unproductive times, they take up less space in an office, reduce recruitment costs and meet seasonal demands.

There are risks associated with using freelance workers, but most of these can be mitigated with good management practices.


83% of Employees Recognise the Importance of Keeping their Skills Up to Date

The Global Talent Trends 2019 Mercer report also showed that employees are eager to learn, which can also feed into your overall talent management strategy.

While employees recognise the importance of bringing their skills up to date, some companies are deterred from providing training as they worry that the employee will take their new skills elsewhere.

A robust talent management strategy should train employees to their satisfaction, while also implementing other rewards to retain them.


With the world of work transforming rapidly, these statistics may not come as much of a surprise to savvy HR professionals with their finger on the pulse. Lean into these trends to revolutionise your workplace and position yourself as a strategic partner to the business.


Improve the employee experience with a formalised training programme that fits around any schedule.


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