HR 2020: What Employers are Reading

Young female professional studying using her education benefits

Sinking unemployment; increasing job openings; the rise of AI. The new decade looks like a tough one for skills gaps. No wonder a good portion of our most-searched content has “education” front and center.

But there’s more than just development on people’s minds; a look at our top blogs shows folks looking for answers to shared talent challenges up and down the ranks. 

What are our most-searched subjects as we start the year? 

Frontline focus: Last year launched the age of the frontline, with high-profile employers expanding benefits (child care, back-up care, education) beyond corporate. Why the fuss? “These critical employees have emerged as a focal point of the talent wars,” wrote our own Alan Robins. “The restaurant industry alone is experiencing record-level departures.” Don’t expect the feverish focus to abate anytime soon. 

Speaking of frontlines...competition for these increasingly hard-to-find employees continues to fuel questions about frontline-focused education, such as our Horizons Degree for Teachers. So how’s ours doing? Inquiries have surpassed 1,200 and more than 900 have signed up. So we’d say it’s doing pretty well.  

Strategic tuition: The best education benefits will continue to do more than fund tuition; they’ll target strategic goals and measure outcomes. State Farm's case study in retention strategy shows why.

Retaining parents: The rise of older parents (more women having children in their 30s than their 20s) means parenthood bumping up against established careers, dinging productivity and threatening pipelines. It’s put child care front and center, with big names like PepsiCo, Mercedes, The Home Depot, Starbucks, and more showing employers how it’s done. 

The silent elder care crisis. The delay of parenthood created a second side effect – namely the collision between child and elder care. “Right now it’s estimated that one-in-six employees care for an adult or elder,” wrote Marc Bernica. “The answer, like elder care itself, is evolving.” 

Welcome new kids! Gen Z may be smaller in numbers than their Millennial siblings, but they’ve got clout. What do we know? They’re rethinking everything from skills acquisition to loyalty. And it will take the right recipe of work/life balance, employer benefits, and compensation (in that order) to win their hearts.   

How to keep working women. The new year, like the outgoing one, rings in with sub-4% unemployment. The déjà vu means every employee is essential, igniting a mission to retain working women. No surprise Working Mother winners are providing the template.  

A new focus on well-being. One-in-five adults grapples with depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues. No wonder many of our own clients are making related benefits a priority. What’s clear is that mental health is no longer in the shadows. 

Paying down loans: College debt does more than put holes in individual pockets; it diminishes learning potential, sinks engagement, and fuels gaps. “No learning for employees means no updated skills employers so desperately need,” wrote Alan Robins, thus answering the question, Why Student Loan Repayment Isn’t (Just) About Student Debt

Varsity Blues. Photo-shopping as an admission strategy may be (thankfully) an outlier. But the quest to send children to college nevertheless claims work time – hours weekly at our last check. No surprise lots of employers are angling to get it back.

The new year promises plenty more developments. Tune in next week to see trends for 2020, and why HR will take center stage.

Written by: Lisa Oppenheimer

January 14, 2020

About the Author

Lisa Oppenheimer at Bright Horizons

As Director, Brand Storytelling at Bright Horizons, Lisa writes “from the trenches” about the real life challenges of people in today’s workplaces: from the tensions of being a working mother, to working with millennials in the digital age, and everything in between. With a career ranging from freelance to full-time, Lisa brings a diverse employment background to her perspective.