Make 2020 a People-Centric Year

In Gartner’s 2020 Top 10
Strategic Technology Trends report, the research firm explains that its list is structured around the idea of “people-centric smart spaces”—that is, how the tech trends included in the list will affect customers and employees, and the places in which they live and work.

Instead of focusing on the technology first, companies must “consider the business and human context first,” the report’s authors explain.

This concern for tech’s impact on people is not new, but a review of recent articles suggests that organizations are paying more attention to it. Consider the following: “What does it mean to be human in a world of computing?” That’s the question posed by Silicon Valley veteran Dan’l Lewin in a recent StoriesHere podcast. Lewin, who has worked at Sony, Apple and Microsoft, currently serves as president and CEO of the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA.

In the podcast, Lewin provides a handful of tips for business leaders—most notably, that people matter the most. People are inclined to see business as dependent on systems, management hierarchies and connections, but this doesn’t reflect the big picture, Lewin explains. The big picture is the little picture. Even in the tech industry, business is about people, he adds.1

▪ Harvard Business Review (HBR) also explores the topic of tech’s impact on people, but as it relates to employee retention. The article points to results from a recent study that predicted that one in four workers would leave their jobs in 2018. Almost a third of the turnover was attributed to “unsupportive management and a lack of development opportunities,” according to HBR.

“The most obvious solution to upping employee retention, then, is creating more
effective training and development programs,” the article’s author states. Yet,
even with elaborate programs in place, business leaders still struggle to
achieve their goals. That’s because many programs aren’t designed with the user,
or the employee, in mind.

According to LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends 2020, 96 percent of talent leaders believe that improving the employee experience is becoming more important and a way organizations can retain talent and stay competitive. Survey respondents say that collecting feedback from employees is not enough—organizations need to start actively listening, collaborating and initiating change on their behalf.2

Ongoing employee training was one of survey respondents’ top five areas for improvement.

The good news is that U.S. employee engagement appears to be increasing. According to a recent Gallup report, the percentage of engaged workers in the U.S. rose to 35 percent
in 2019—the highest level since Gallup began tracking the information in 2000.

According to Gallup, organizations that have seen increased engagement have a key factor in common—they have focused on creating high-development cultures, “where people
can see their impact on the organization and its customers through their work.
They have opportunities to develop their strengths and purpose into a career.”

However, the Gallup and LinkedIn reports note that, despite the steady increase in employee engagement, levels are still too low.

Business leaders, take note: The new year has only just begun—it’s not too late to focus on making 2020 a people-centric year.

1. See “What does it mean to be human in a world of computing?” by Jonny Evans, Computerworld, Jan. 24, 2020. | 2. See HR Dive’s analysis of LinkedIn’s study.

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