2020 Global Human Capital Trends Report

The social enterprise at work: Paradox as a path forward

This year’s report, our 10th annual, is the world’s largest longitudinal study of HR, talent, and related topics ever conducted. It draws on the insights of nearly 9,000 survey respondents from 119 countries and includes actionable strategies and stories from organizations that are at the forefront of putting the social enterprise to work.

Our 2020 Global Human Capital Trends report is anchored in the greatest paradox facing organizations today: Is it possible to remain distinctly human in a technology-driven world?

For years, organizations viewed their efforts to address human and social concerns as separate from their efforts around technology—the two conversations ran on separate tracks. Even today, pundits who connect the two realms often portray human interests as antithetical to an organizations’ ability to capitalize on technology to its fullest, most obviously demonstrated in the belief that AI and robots are an imminent threat to human employment.

Now, however, it’s time to challenge the view that technology and humanity are distinct domains, or even fundamentally at odds. We believe that the greater value comes from a fusion of the two. A view that fuses the human and the technological allows organizations to leverage the environment that technology creates to humanize the world of work and transcend the most challenging conflicts facing them today:

  • Fostering belonging amid a desire for individuality through purpose
  • Creating security in a world of reinvention through potential 
  • Taking bold action in an age of uncertainty though perspective

To embody these attributes takes a high degree of change—one that extends beyond broad cultural descriptions and lofty purpose/mission statements to the tactical processes, programs, and structures that bring an organization’s culture, purpose, and mission to life. To help you think through these changes, we have used the framework of purpose, potential, and perspective to organize our discussion of this year’s human capital trends. These trends look across the components of an organization’s infrastructure—from the systems that guide process execution to the metrics that track and measure strategic progress—and offer suggestions on ways to embed purpose, potential, and perspective into the very core of how they are designed and executed.


Viewpoints / key findings

Purpose: Belonging amid individuality
  • Belonging: From comfort to connection to contribution. 
  • Designing work for well-being: Living and performing at your best. 
  • The postgenerational workforce: From millennials to perennials.
Potential: Security through reinvention
  • Superteams: Putting AI in the group. 
  • Knowledge management: Creating context for a connected world. 
  • Beyond reskilling: Investing in resilience for uncertain futures.
Perspective: Boldness into uncertainty
  • The compensation conundrum: Principles for a more human approach. 
  • Governing workforce strategies: New questions for better results. 
  • Ethics and the future of work: From “could we” to “how should we.”
A memo to HR: Expand focus and extend influence

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