LOWELL, Mass. ,

The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated today released its annual predictions of the top trends that will impact the global workforce in the coming year.

Top Workforce Predictions of 2019

  1. AI and machine learning unmask previously-hidden workforce data to make people-centric decisions. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning will finally be woven into workforce management practices, revealing a treasure trove of data organizations have been collecting – but not using – for decades. With regular and digestible access to workforce data trends – like scheduling accuracy, absenteeism, overtime usage, and burnout – predictive analytics will shine, helping organizations head-off potential issues before they arise. Intelligent automation will also free up managers from admin-heavy tasks – like managing schedules, approving time-off requests, and shift changes – while encouraging data-driven decision-making to provide clarity between what is equal versus what is fair. Though, to harness analytical insights to make accurate, actionable decisions for specific employee and business goals, organizations must avoid a “one-size-fits-all” model.
  2. Historically tight labor markets and emerging technologies put people managers in the spotlight. With unemployment low and the exodus of baby boomers reaching critical mass, employers globally will face a historically tight labor market. Sourcing great candidates has never been more difficult, and retention will become an all-out dogfight. While an employer’s brand, innovative hiring technologies, and proactive recruiting practices are more important than ever, it’s organizations with the best people managers that will ultimately prevail. Organizations will place an increased focus on leadership development as a retention strategy – especially as Millennials flock to middle management – and measuring manager effectiveness will be HR’s top challenge in 2019. Additionally, as AI and machine learning take over mundane managerial tasks, freeing up managers to spend more time with their people, deficits in leadership competencies will be exposed as management expectations continue to shift from a historical command-and-control model to a horizontal style that considers all perspectives and seeks innovative ways to inspire, develop, grow, and keep the top talent that drives business value.
  3. The changing face of education redefines trades and challenges traditional hiring practices. As the student loan debt crisis furthers the debate about the value of a college education and credentialing programs for job-specific skills emerge, tomorrow’s best employees may take an unconventional path to employment. Competencies that once required a degree – such as coding, robotics, and data analytics – are being redefined as skilled trades with the rise of certificate and micro-credential programs. Also, as yesterday’s jobs become augmented by automation, new skills will be required for traditionally “blue-collar” roles. Employers must revamp their hiring profiles and remove traditional job requirements to tap into this new pool of qualified candidates who will staff the shop floor, store floor, hospital floor, and top floor of the future. And, as Millennials become parents, many will likely urge their school-aged children to take an alternative educational path for a brighter financial future.
  4. Further fracturing of employment laws globally, nationally, and at the local level strain organizations. From minimum wage to sick pay, to fair scheduling proposals to the right to disconnect, governments around the world will continue localizing – and repealing – employment laws. Ever-changing regulations around the world will put increased strain on organizations to avoid sanctions, fines, crippling class action lawsuits, and reputation-damaging stories. Technology will be vital for organizations to manage scheduling-related mandates, ensure unbiased practices, monitor fatigue and overtime management, and ensure employees are paid accurately and fairly – all while providing analytical insights that surface risky managerial practices otherwise buried in a sea of employment data.
  5. Employee-agnostic flexibility, consumer-grade tech, and the rise of the occasional time worker redefine “work your way.” All employees – salaried, hourly, and gig – crave control over when, where, and how they work. While employers have put more focus on flexibility and alternative work schedules, most have been slow to reengineer processes that underpin how the organization runs. Tools must meet employees where they naturally work – such as on their mobile phone, tablet, or favorite social networking platforms. The gig economy and emergence of the “occasional-time worker” will force organizations to replace traditional hiring and scheduling processes with systems that enable workers to choose when, where, and how long they work. Mobile-friendly processes, self-service features, and immediate access to real-time data in a consumer-grade technology wrapper will help drive the next iteration of the flexibility phenomenon, as predictability of anytime work will empower employees to be more productive, make more intelligent decisions, and be more engaged.
  6. Greater emphasis on disaster preparedness as part of a holistic human capital management strategy. Disasters large and small, natural and man-made, have unfortunately become the norm. Organizations worldwide have been challenged to respond effectively to increasingly frequent crises, with HR, operations, and payroll forced to take center stage in the lives of affected employees. With more emphasis on company culture, caring, and “doing what’s right” in a world where disasters – and a company’s response to them – are frequently in the news, there is a new level of expectation for an organization’s response, responsibility, and employee benefits. Organizations of all sizes must take a hard look at disaster policies, processes, and capabilities – including both taking care of employees in the moment and rebuilding in the wake of disaster, which will be near impossible for those operating on a DIY workforce management, HR, and payroll system. Sustainability plans that today primarily account for company assets and data will need to incorporate employees and their families.

The Workforce Institute at Kronos board Members include:

  • In the Americas: David Almeda, chief people officer of Kronos; Natalie Bickford, group HR director at Merlin Entertainments; Joseph Cabral, chief human resources officer and president, workforce solutions at Press Ganey; Bob Clements, president at Axsium Group; David Creelman, CEO of Creelman Research; John Frehse, senior managing director at Ankura Consulting Group, LLC; China Gorman, a human capital management consultant, speaker, and writer who is former CEO of the Great Place to Work® Institute and former COO of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM); John Hollon, editor-at-large at ERE Media, award-winning journalist, and nationally recognized expert on leadership, talent management, and smart workforce practices; Sharlyn Lauby, The HR Bartender and president of ITM Group, Inc.; Alexandra Levit, business/workplace author, speaker, consultant, and futurist; Joyce Maroney, executive director of The Workforce Institute at Kronos; Dennis Miller, chief employment officer at Cal Poly Pomona Foundation; Chris Mullen, director, strategic advisory at Kronos; Neil Reichenberg, executive director of IPMA-HR; Dan Schawbel, best-selling author and partner and research director at Future Workplace; Raciel Sosa, CEO at Leadex Solutions; and Mark Wales, workforce management industry advisor.
  • In Europe: Roland Axten, workforce management solutions explorer at Inter IKEA; Dr. Steffi Burkhart, speaker, author, lecturer; Christian Kromme, entrepreneur and futurist speaker; Julia Hobsbawm, OBE, honorary professor, author, writer; Simon Porter, digital HR services at NGA Human Resources; and Claire Richardson, director at the Workforce Institute at Kronos, EMEA and vice president EMEA professional services at Kronos.
  • In China: Yang Wei Guo, dean of school of labor and human resources at Renmin University of China; Xu Zheng, founder, CEO of Cofound Innovation Center; Miao Qing, general manager of Kronos in Greater China; Winnie Yuan, independent consultant; Dr. Huang Pei, CEO, editor-in-chief of E-Works; Kevin Peng, deputy secretary general of China Chain Store Association and deputy secretary general of China ECR Committee; Danny Dai, vice president, Capgemini China; James Xue, presales manager at Kronos in Greater China; and Freedom Zhu, business partner at Allpku Consulting.

Supporting Resources


About The Workforce Institute at Kronos

The Workforce Institute at Kronos provides research and education on critical workplace issues facing organizations around the globe. By bringing together thought leaders, The Workforce Institute at Kronos is uniquely positioned to empower organizations with the knowledge and information they need to manage their workforce effectively and provide a voice for employees on important workplace issues. A hallmark of The Workforce Institute’s research is balancing the needs and desires of diverse employee populations with the needs of organizations. For additional information, visit www.workforceinstitute.org.

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