New Order: 4 Trends Transforming Your Workplace

April 1, 2019

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The traditional workplace power dynamic is changing, according to LinkedIn’s 2019 Global Talent Trends Report.

“As technology empowers employees to share and access more information, employers are being held to a higher standard,” the authors state. “Employees expect more transparency, flexibility and accountability from the companies that hope to attract and retain them.”

The LinkedIn Talent Solutions report combines a survey of over 5,000 talent professionals in 35 countries with behavioral data from LinkedIn and advice from leaders and experts on how to take action.

These professionals agree that the following four trends are very important to the future of recruiting and HR: soft skills (91 percent), work flexibility (72 percent), anti-harassment (71 percent) and pay transparency (53 percent).


Soft Skills 

While hard skills matter a great deal, they are usually vetted at the hiring phase — most candidates are not considered for a job if they don’t have a specific skill set.

But most hiring and firing decisions actually come down to the soft skills, according to the report. And many people don’t identify poor skills until after a new hire has already started working. Many HR professionals (57 percent) say they still struggle to assess soft skills. And only 41 percent have a formal process to do this.

While the half-life of many hard skills is shrinking (such as a specific programming language), soft skills like creativity, adaptability and collaboration will always be valuable. The five most important soft skills companies need from workers but have a hard time finding include:

  • Creativity
  • Persuasion
  • Collaboration
  • Adaptability
  • Time management

Among talent professionals, 68 percent say they evaluate soft skills by picking up on social cues during interviews — but their perceptions aren’t necessarily predictive and are often unconsciously biased. (If someone is upbeat, they may be a good collaborator; if someone is nervous, they may not be a good leader.) Since this unstructured approach is common, it’s hard to accurately and consistently assess soft skills.

“Companies overwhelmingly rely on asking behavioral interview questions (75 percent) and observing body language (70 percent),” the study says. Other methods include: projects that let them see the soft skills in action (58 percent), situational questions (31 percent) and tech-based assessments that use AI (17 percent).
Of the respondents, 92 percent say soft skills matter as much or more than hard skills, while 89 percent say bad hires typically lack soft skills.


Anti-Harassment

Establishing a culture of respect and shining a light on sexual harassment is becoming increasingly important to workers, and companies are facing pressure from employees to take action.

“Employers are seeing anti-harassment as a business necessity, not just a legal and moral one. Hostile workplaces can hurt the bottom line through lost productivity and turnover, and respectful cultures can attract talent and improve engagement,” according to the LinkedIn study.

There is a 71 percent year-over-year increase in workplace harassment content shared on LinkedIn. Employees have become more vocal about harassment and less tolerant of bad behavior, leading to a shift in culture.

Hiring pros (75 percent) have noticed changes in employee anti-harassment behavior in the past two years.

Workers are doing the following more frequently:

  • Speaking up when uncomfortable
  • Discussing social issues openly
  • Calling out bad behavior
  • Abstaining from telling insensitive jokes
  • Being willing to listen

The most common anti-harassment tactics that companies have taken in the past year include highlighting existing policies and promoting ways to safely report incidents, followed by revising existing policies and offering new training sessions.


Work Flexibility

“Technology has taken work beyond the traditional workplace and office hours,” the study says. As more people answer emails from home or finish a presentation off-site, more employers are promoting flex policies in their job postings, which still vary by industry. “Flexibility can improve productivity and retention, but brings a new set of challenges, like difficulties in collaboration and bonding.”

Since 2016, there has been a 78 percent increase in job posts on LinkedIn that mention work flexibility. Employees want to feel empowered to work when and where they want.

According to talent professionals, work flexibility:

  • Improves work-life balance (77 percent)
  • Encourages retention (54 percent)
  • Attracts candidates (51 percent)
  • Increases productivity (42 percent)
  • Expands available talent pool (38 percent)

This greater flexibility can also lead to greater diversity, the study says. Not offering this option means that you’re missing out on a broad range of candidates.

The most in-demand reason is the ability to shift hours (perhaps to avoid rush hour or accommodate home life) and the autonomy to step away for a few hours for personal reasons.

Talent professionals say that the challenges of remote work are team bonding, collaboration and work oversight, while the best solutions to overcome this are instant messaging, audio conferencing and video conferencing.


Pay Transparency

There has been a 136 percent increase in pay transparency content shared on LinkedIn since 2014. It’s long been a taboo topic, but it’s becoming an indicator of trust.

“Employers fear that disclosing too much about employee salaries could cause wage disputes, limit their ability to negotiate and encourage competitors to poach top talent,” the study says. But the benefits may outweigh this: “Not only does it set salary expectations with candidates early on, transparency also clears up misinformation that could be hurting employee morale and retention.”

Without clear communication, most workers assume that they are underpaid. So being upfront can help with fair pay across gender, race and other demographics, creating more trust and better relationships with employees.

But businesses are still split on the idea of pay transparency, saying that they have the following practices with employees or early-stage candidates:

  • Don’t share, unlikely to start (51 percent)
  • Don’t share, but likely to start (22 percent)
  • Share salary ranges (27 percent)

As it becomes easier for people to view pay information on Glassdoor, PayScale and LinkedIn, more companies are choosing to own the conversation and share salary information themselves.

Of those people who are transparent about pay, 67 percent share salary ranges with candidates early in the hiring process, 59 percent share salary ranges with their employees and 48 percent share ranges publicly in initial job listings.

Some companies worry about ensuing arguments with current employees; they’re concerned that people will ask for the high end of a salary range or become unhappy after seeing what others make. But those who share salary information see the benefits, like streamlining negotiations and making the hiring process more efficient.

Amy Jacques

Amy Jacques is the managing editor of publications for PRSA. A native of Greenville, S.C., she holds a master’s degree in arts journalism from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in advertising from the University of Georgia’s Grady College and a certificate in magazine and website publishing from New York University.

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