We talk often about the future of work here at #WorkTrends — and this week’s guest says the future will be arriving pretty soon. Brent Colescott is the senior director of business strategy and transformation for SumTotal, and he says 2020 is going to be a transformational year for the workplace. When a man whose job is literally transformation tells you that transformation is on the way, you tend to listen.

Colescott shared with us why he sees talent and development as the leading drivers of change in the workplace, and how you can prepare your organization for the coming revolution.

Listen to the full conversation or read the recap below. Subscribe so you never miss an episode.

‘The Inflection Point’ Is Here

We’re all expecting transformational changes in the workplace, particularly with regard to HR. Many of our guests — and myself — have been beating the drum for more focus on talent development, retention and the employee experience. Colescott says this thinking is about to hit the mainstream in a big way.

Colescott has traveled throughout the world over the past year, going to conferences and meeting with businesses. He says he has noticed that many organizations are truly beginning to see the importance of investing in talent development. “They realized that they can’t just kind of give this lip service anymore,” he says. “They realized the impact of what talent development from a broader sense means for their organizations.”

To Colescott, this means 2019 is the year for organizations to begin changing their processes and platforms to focus more on the employee experience, particularly in regard to skill development. “If they’re not doing that in 2019, 2020 is going to be a very difficult year,” he says. “I really think that this is now the inflection point of change that’s going to start happening.”

How to Transform Your Organization

Transforming your workplace for 2020 begins with a simple mantra: “It’s all about the employee experience,” Colescott says. And he says one of the primary focuses of the employee experience needs to be talent development.

To assess your organization’s focus in this area, he suggests a simple litmus test: If you’re working on a continuing education course and your boss walks past, do you minimize your screen or do you proudly own it? If you minimize your screen, your organization has a lot of work to do, and it’s highly likely that you or others in similar situations will look for jobs elsewhere — because talent development is not prioritized at your organization.

To create a development culture, Colescott advises organizations to encourage continuing education during working hours, and to provide guidance on development opportunities. He also says HR must ensure that there is a close relationship between training and performance management. If an employee wants to check on either, it should be as easy as using an Apple Watch to track the number of steps they’ve taken that day. “The approach that we take to our talent needs to align with the expectations that they’re having from everywhere else in the world,” he says.

Looking Beyond 2020

2020 is just the beginning of transformation, Colescott says. As organizations invest more in the employee experience, they’ll also be able to get better data to analyze and improve it. Colescott has a surprising analogy: “I think when we look at how HR is going to be dealing with things in the next five to 10 years, we’re going to start treating our employees like athletes,” he says.

The data-driven approach will drive the future of HR, just as “Moneyball” has driven the future of baseball. “We’re going to start measuring our employees in how they support our organization in the same manner,” he says. This data will help HR devise more innovative approaches to employee engagement, one of the most important factors in organizational success — no matter the year.

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

This episode is sponsored by SumTotal.

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