Cheers To The Talent Who Focused On The Future Of Work In 2015

I’m always looking forward in the world of work: exploring what the future of work will hold and how we can get there, how can we recruit the best and brightest and keep them, what’s tech is coming down the pike. Talent is inherently future-centric, driven as much by the underlying reality of succession and how to withstand the new normal of disruption and the incredible shrinking barrier between work and life. But 2015 has been a milestone year. So I’m going to look back. I’m in a thankful mood.

First off, I always want to thank the communities I’m a part of. I’m lucky: my colleagues and peers are thinkers, learners, doers, dreamers; not a naysayer or a mud-sticker-inner in the bunch. The optimism and interest (at times, obsession) of my brothers and sisters can be positively empowering and inspiring.

So here are a few trends from last year’s great year in the world of talent, and a few shout-outs to those I have to thank.

No Limits is the new normal.

We saw what was coming: the Cloud, mobile and social, a hyper-accelerated ability to analyze and find meaning in powerful ways. And we are doing this far more quickly and readily — with access to seemingly infinite amounts of data. The news circa 2015 was not in the what and how, but the who and why. It’s up to us to chart the direction and make sure we’re expanding who is included. Among my favorite events and its coverage was the IT@Cork European Technology Summit in Ireland, where my friend Kevin W. Grossman and I had the privilege of hosting a discussion on the impact of gender diversity in tech — with some fantastic guests.

Collectively engaged is bigger than distinctive and separate.

Forging a larger community was the focus of many a post; others paid far more attention to the differences. My preferred approach is a virtual Venn diagram of the characteristics we all have in common. I found, in study after study, there are more differences than similarities, and the most important takeaway is more about a blended workforce culture than striated, isolated segments. It’s all about breaking out of the box, or cubicle, and driving engagement — which means a spirit of collaborative innovation; the opposite of us and them.

Please be nice, be kind, be aware.

This has been a year of scrutiny on bullying, that terribly dehumanizing practice that happens not only in school, but very much in some workplaces. I hate to call out Amazon, but the news surrounding its apparently toxic culture was shocking; all the more so as it seemed stitching into the very fabric of the company culture. The good news: it sparked the conversation we all needed to have. Many of us chose to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty with this critical, yet anything but high-concept, issue. It’s not high concept, it’s not high anything, and that’s the point. Kudos to those who took it on.

The better I can see through you, the better.

With the changing population of the workforce has come a far more facile sense of what, exactly, transparency means. Hint: it’s not a marketing tool, except that it is: the essential message, mission and brand of an employer needs to be a through-line that encompasses all platforms and interactions from search to hire to retention to succession. And in terms of candidate experience, it’s a must. Transparency is a critical selling point when it comes to how candidates perceive an employer, and the statistics on just how aware we all are (not surprising in this culture) are remarkable.

It hasn’t all been sober predictions, either. There have been some uproariously entertaining moments. If you weren’t at this year’s Las Vegas HRTech conference, you should make a point of going next year, and combine being part of the zeitgeist with perusing all that sexy tech and gear. Its attendance broke records, which is proof to me that we are now growing up. I remember writing about the departure of the gold watch from employee recognition programs; the rise of HR in mobile and social; the entrance of Millennials; now we’re so far past that, I can’t wait to see what happens next. Thanks to everyone involved: it’s going to be a great ride in 2016.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

A version of this post was first published on Forbes on 12/5/15