In the first blog of this two-part series, Graeme Wright, strategy director at Havas People, reveals the findings from their Global Trends 2016 report – shedding light on global trends and talents’ perspectives on them.
1. The Übertrend for 2016: uneasy street
The essence of this trend is a growing feeling among society as a whole ‘that things aren’t as they should be, looming threats are out there, and people need to make important decisions and do something. Emotional alarm bells are endlessly ringing and we are responding in a variety of ways to quiet the din’. Here’s the constant question raised by this anxiety übertrend: how can I make my present and my future more secure? Or rather: What’s the easiest and/or most enjoyable way to make my present and my future more secure?
The talent perspective: This trend is most clearly reflected in the perspective of Generation Z – a generation that could also be named ‘Generation worried’. They worry about almost everything, from the state of society to online friendships. But despite having so much to worry about, their key concerns relate to careers – and this worry is just as much about finding a career that matches their personality as it is about finding a job. There is also an appreciation that any job or career will have a finite lifespan so they need to develop a range of ‘portfolio skills’ that will help futureproof themselves.
Another consequence of ‘uneasy street’ is an increased desire for ‘meaning’ at work and in one’s career. By this we mean a dual desire to be associated with an organisation that will firstly help make some sense of society and will somehow contribute to a better world; and secondly, look after its employees. This is not necessarily about job security, but is certainly about a greater sense of partnership at work.
It also means people often put a premium on a range of factors that help them find security in an uncertain world, foremost amongst these factors is trust. Organisations that can prove themselves trustworthy (by offering a clear sense of purpose, transparency and quality) internally and externally will be particularly attractive to talent in the years to come.
2. Tech addict, control thyself
Each new cycle of technology evolves to be more addictive than the one before, delivering faster stimulation 24/7, with higher-definition visuals and even more must-have features. Of course any sort of addiction is liable to have consequences. As The Washington Post put it recently: “Your phone, your laptop, your television … they’re all begging for your attention. They’re designed to isolate you from your surroundings and from your partner.”
The jury of informed opinion is out on whether technology is harming our ability to be together and pay attention to one another. Whatever the experts say won’t stop people from worrying as must-have, must-touch, must-use devices increasingly penetrate every corner of life.
The talent perspective: Technology raises an increasing number of ways of interacting with candidates (creating what Havas People has described as ‘the age of infinite candidates’). There is always a temptation to think that there must be a technological solution to any talent issue. Interviewing, engagement, assessment and candidate identification can all be done using a range of technologies and the increasing effectiveness of AI is only going to accelerate this process.
However, as technology develops it will be at its most effective when it facilitates the development of real human relationships. Also, employers that continue to focus (or at least embrace) face-to face relationships (career fairs, site visits, presentations, physical interviews) will be the ones that stand out from the crowd.
3. The Golden Age of B.S.
The internet, in general, and social media, in particular, mean anyone with a connection can share their opinions about anything. In theory, this should lead to an era of open constructive debate. In practice, what tends to happen is people hang out and interact with others who think like they do, creating echo chambers of similar opinions. On the whole people are satisfied with some form of truthiness, defined by Stephen Colbert as “what you want the facts to be, as opposed to what the facts are. What feels like the right answer, as opposed to what reality will support”.
Overall the internet is driving a trend that strongly favours emotion-stirring, eye-catching claims backed up with a quote or an image. As Havas said back in 2006: “lying in all its forms – from little white ones to grand-scale deception – has become part of our cultural mainstream. It’s a time of quasi-truth that makes discerning real from fake or true from false an almost impossible task”. To quote a recent article “B*llsh*t (BS) is a consequential aspect of the human condition. Indeed, with the rise of communication technology, people are likely encountering more BS in their everyday lives than ever before”.
The talent perspective: Despite the temptation to BS in the talent space, it’s clearly one area where it’s liable to be counterproductive. What companies want and need is people who match and enhance their culture and values. BS can have devastating effects in terms of effective recruitment and engagement. In this sense, the ever growing sharing that characterises social connectivity is great; vehicles such as Glassdoor provide the basis of truth based relationships, and when combined with employer brands that accurately articulate culture, the result will be recruitment marketing that eliminates the BS altogether. Having said that, perhaps still too much recruitment marketing can’t resist the temptation to use hyperbole.
4. Out: overprotective parenting
The world is a more dangerous place; people are having smaller families (at least in the developed world) and are starting their families later. The result has been what is often described as ‘helicopter parenting’. Questioning overprotection is set to grow. There’s already increasing concern that kids who are brought up shielded from all risks are less tough and more vulnerable when they eventually make it into adulthood.
The talent perspective: Our research shows that parents are by far the biggest influencers in deciding their children’s careers. While this may not change, there could be an upsurge in ‘free range’ parenting styles: a more relaxed view, from a parents perspective, to degrees studied and careers viewed as suitable. In a recent Breakfast News event, Janet Street-Porter bemoaned the proliferation of ‘crap degrees such as geography’. Leaving aside the merits of studying geography, we might expect to see more tolerance of the decision to study it on the basis that parents can’t live their lives for their children.
This blog was written by Graeme Wright, Strategy Director at Havas People.
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