5 Talent Trend Predictions for 2019

It’s that time of year.  Most company leaders are pushing to make sure their organizations end 2018 strong.  At the same time, they are feeling an urgency to make sure they can hit the ground running in 2019.  There’s no pausing anymore.  Business has become like a continuum of exponential change that relentlessly demands that companies adapt, move quickly, step it up, get better, accelerate results, compete at a higher level and constantly look ahead to see what hurdle or opportunity is on the horizon. 

In 2019, CEOs will be more involved in talent and pay strategy development. 

Central to succeeding in this environment is the ability of a company to attract and retain top talent.  Those that are victors in that realm will also win in most others.  So, given that, what will business leaders be doing next year to secure and improve their talent positions? 

Based on what’s been happening over the couple of years, I have a few predictions.

But before previewing the talent trends I believe are coming in 2019, let me first explain the basis of my observations.  Here are some things that have been pressing upon businesses over the past two to three years and reached a zenith in 2018:

  • The market for highly-skilled talent has been shrinking (and shows no signs of expanding). As a result…
  • Educated, experienced people are in the driver’s seat when it comes to choosing an employer opportunity to pursue. Therefore…
  • All businesses are trying to distinguish and differentiate themselves in the talent pool from which they are attempting to attract new employees. Meanwhile…
  • Millennials have emerged as the largest generation in the workforce, with Gen Z coming up right behind them. All of this has led to…
  • Chief executives realizing they must pay more attention to talent issues going into 2019 than they ever have before.

5 Talent Trends to Anticipate

If you have been running a company for a while, nothing on that list is news to you.  You’ve been experiencing those things for a while.  As a result, my predictions for next year should not surprise you.  Here they are.

1. Business leaders will treat the building and execution of a growth-oriented talent strategy as priority one.

A growth-oriented talent strategy is one that focuses on attracting and retaining the kind of people that will help you build a high-performance culture that is a magnet for top talent.  It doesn’t separate the discussion and development of recruiting campaigns from the overall performance framework and expectations that are driving other strategic planning and decision-making.   This means your talent framework must correspond with your overall business framework (mission, vision, business model and strategy, roles, etc.) and your compensation framework (pay philosophy, total rewards strategy, pay offer, etc.).


To accomplish this, chief executives will (should) demand data from their team that tell them what the relevant labor pool looks like—how many people it contains, what their profile is, where they are working now, what matters to them in an employer relationship, etc.  This data is dynamic not static.  It is shifting and changing continually.  For example, millennials are starting to grow into leadership positions and are changing the “rules” about what the employer-employee relationship should look like.  The generation behind them has similar characteristics, only more entrenched.  Your company will need to figure out how to “corner” this part of the talent market because your future leaders will come from it.

2. Companies will invest more in developing and promoting their employer brand.

This expectation is really a no brainer.  Any company not seriously pursuing an employer brand strategy will simply not survive in the current talent environment.  This is because if your company does not define what its employer brand is, others will define it for you.

Your employer brand is all the things your employees, potential employees and the community at large say about your company in forums over which you have no control (social media, online employer rating sites, conversations in social circles, employee lunch gatherings, etc.).  Your people are constantly evaluating the experience they are having while working for your company—and then communicating with others about.  So…just as you need to take control of how your product brand is perceived and spoken of, you likewise must seize the messaging associated with your employer brand.  This comes by focusing on the employee experience you create for your people. 

3. The employee value proposition for top talent will be redefined.

It simply has to be.  Since the best people can dictate their own terms in the current environment, you will need a value proposition that is virtually irresistible.  This will require you to research and understand what potential employees want from the company for which they work.  Employees do not look at value propositions the same way employers do.  They think in terms of the kind of experience they are going to have and how that aligns with their goals and aspirations financially, developmentally and with regard to the purposes they want to serve.

At the heart of your value proposition there must a be a pay offer that is complete and compelling.  And the core of a compelling pay offer is value-sharing.  Top talent wants to know that it will participate in the value it helps create.  This is in your best interest as well.  Because a unified focus on value creation drives revenue growth and profitability.  So, you want your people to feel in control of their earnings as long as that potential is tied to their contributions to short and long-term business growth. 

4. Employees will gravitate to companies that provide a learning culture.

Great people look at their business involvements as opportunities to develop themselves personally and professionally.  This doesn’t just mean they want to be “trained” or attend periodic leadership classes (although those things might be included).  Rather, they recognize they have certain unique abilities and they want opportunities that will strengthen and enhance them.  So, they look at the nature of the work they will be doing, the people they will be working with, the resources the company makes available, the learning opportunities that exist and ask themselves: “Will I get better—personally and professionally—as a result of belonging to this organization?”  If they don’t anticipate having that kind of experience (or aren’t having it now as employees), they will not join (or stay).

5. CEOs will have greater involvement in the development of their company's talent strategy and employee value proposition.

This too is inevitable.  Consider this observation that came from Deloitte’s 18th Annual Global CEO Survey:

One of the biggest headaches for CEOs is making sure that the organization has the right people to cope with what lies ahead. There’s the basic question of planning for the skills that are needed now and in the future: Which roles will be automated? What new roles will be needed to manage and run emerging technology? What skills should the company be looking for, and training their people for? Where will we find the people we need?

But more importantly, CEOs need to be sure that the business is fit to react quickly to whatever the future may throw at it – and that means filling it with adaptable, creative people, working in a culture where energy fizzes and ideas spark into life. If they can’t be found, they must be created.  (PwC’s 18th Annual Global CEO Survey)

Business leaders who do not get “hands on” in defining what their company’s approach will be to attracting and retaining top talent will find themselves frustrated and on the losing end of solving the concern the Deloitte study revealed.  No one in an organization will be able to match a chief executive’s vision of the kind of growth partners he or she will need to achieve the company’s full potential.   

Chief executives need to drive the discussion about what the company’s talent and pay philosophy will be.  They should help other leaders in the organization understand the performance framework and expectations that should guide decisions about hiring and the value proposition in which employees will participate. 

As you head into 2019, you can do one of two things.  You can either be an observer of these trends or you can be a participant.  It is my recommendation that you choose to be the latter.   

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