Welcome to the age of empathy.

According to LinkedIn’s “2020 Global Talent Trends” report, Business Roundtable’s landmark statement redefining the purpose of a corporation was just the beginning. As organizations begin to take seriously their mandate to work for “the benefit of all stakeholders,” HR pros and recruiters can expect to navigate a sea change in the way we think about talent acquisition and management.

While LinkedIn identifies four key trends transforming hiring and retention in 2020 —  employee experience, people analytics, internal recruiting, and the maturation of the multigenerational workforce — the report also notes that, in the grand scheme of things, all four factors can be boiled down to empathy.

“Empathy is what links all four of our global talent trends,” says Amy Schultz, director of talent acquisition — product at LinkedIn. “[We see empathy] with the emergence of employee experience, with new ways to cater to employees; the adolescence of people analytics, with its emphasis on understanding human behavior; the rediscovery of internal recruiting, with a focus on advancing people’s careers from within; and the maturation of the multigenerational workforce, with the importance of celebrating everyone’s strengths.”

These “talent shape-shifts,” as Schultz calls them, are leading us in a more ethical direction.

“Companies are working to understand their talent more deeply than ever before in order to better serve them,” Schultz says. “Compassion and empathy will underpin everything successful companies do in the future.”

To help you prepare for the more empathetic and ethical future of talent acquisition, let’s take a closer look at the four key trends LinkedIn identified:

1. Employee Experience

According to LinkedIn, 96 percent of HR and talent acquisition leaders feel employee experience is becoming more important, and 77 percent of companies are focusing on employee experience in order to boost retention in a tight talent market.

While only 52 percent of the employees surveyed by LinkedIn said their companies provide a positive experience, that’s largely because the shift to an employee-experience focus is still ongoing. Organizations have been making strides to invest more heavily in positive experiences, a fact reflected in the increasing amount of employee-experience-oriented roles being created by employers. On LinkedIn, the number of users with “employee experience” in their title has more than doubled since 2014, suggesting that employee experience may one day be the new HR.

The driving force behind increasing investment in employee experience, according to Schultz, has been the shift in power from institutions to individuals in the talent market.

“Millennials and Generation Z both expect a more personalized experience at work, and as a result, businesses are starting to invest in employee experience, which is everything an employee observes, feels, and interacts with as a part of the company,” Schultz says. “Talent pros know focusing on employee experience is important not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because it increases retention and productivity, meets the high expectations of younger workers, and attracts more candidates.”

2. People Analytics

Seventy-three percent of HR and talent leaders surveyed by LinkedIn said people analytics will be a major priority for their companies over the next five years. Correspondingly, the number of HR pros with data analytics skills has increased by 24 percent over the last five years.

While it’s heartening to see people analytics become more broadly accessible to a wider range of companies, this is still a new frontier for many organizations. That shows in how HR pros are using analytics. While many organizations are getting the hang of collecting and maintaining data, comparatively fewer report success in actually analyzing, acting on, and capitalizing on it, according to LinkedIn.

“We still have a way to go when it comes to storytelling with data and being able to make recommendations with data — thus turning data into insights,” Schultz says. “One way to begin is to launch a pilot program in collaboration with leadership to find one problem worth studying and solve it. Then, you’re held accountable to enlist allies and build a plan, collect and analyze data, and then share your results and recommendations.”

Schultz notes that investigating turnover is a popular pilot program objective, while her own team at LinkedIn is embarking on a quality of hire pilot soon.

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3. Internal Recruiting

LinkedIn reports a 10 percent increase in internal hiring since 2015, and 73 percent of HR and talent leaders said internal recruiting is growing increasingly important. It makes sense: In a historically tight talent market, internal recruiting offers a more cost-effective way to source verified high-quality talent.

But ironically enough, managers have emerged as an obstacle to internal recruiting efforts. Seventy percent of managers say they don’t want to let go of the great talent on their teams. While the thinking is understandable, it can lead to “talent hoarding”: the act of purposefully preventing an employee from making an internal move to a new role.

However, that doesn’t mean managers can’t become “internal recruiting champions,” Schultz says. All you need to do is prove that internal recruiting pays off.

“Provide good reasons, data, and anecdotes to show why moving top performers is good for the company and the teams impacted by the move,” Schultz suggests. “Help managers see the benefits, from boosting morale to creating a more positive experience and enticing great people to stick around.”

4. The Maturing Multigenerational Workforce

Eighty-nine percent of the HR and talent leaders surveyed by LinkedIn said a multigenerational workforce makes a business more successful — and that’s good news, considering that’s the new norm. Longer lifespans and Generation Z’s arrival in the workplace are causing more and more companies to expand their age diversity. With the opportunities, however, come new challenges as well.

In particular, LinkedIn’s report notes that generational differences can cause tension when it comes to management styles, work/life balance, and communication styles. Workers of different generations may have conflicting preferences on these matters, which can put an employer in a bit of a bind.

“Company leaders have a responsibility to move past any generational conflicts by fostering respect, inclusion, and collaboration,” the report notes. “Clear, solution-oriented conversations are especially important around the biggest perceived danger zones.”

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