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4 emerging HR trends 2020 with Noor van Boven - Interview

In today’s interview we are delighted and very proud that Kenjo investor and Board Member, Noor van Boven, took some time out her busy schedule to talk to us about emerging HR trends for 2020. As former VP Global Head of People at SoundCloud, and currently as Chief People Officer at N26, Noor is an HR expert on guiding organisations through hypergrowth and, at the same time, makes sure no one gets left behind.


Noor reflects on over 20 years‘ international human resources experience in building, scaling and transforming organisations. In that time, she has seen a big shift in what has been required from HR departments over the years. We’ve summarised some of the insights she shared with us during a recent video interview recorded at our headquarters in Berlin.


You can watch the whole video here or read on for an overview of the most pressing HR trends for 2020:





HR trends and solutions in 2020


The year 2020 is already casting shadows as COVID-19 overhangs the entire economy. It seems the coronavirus has turned the world upside down and, almost overnight, abruptly forced industries to shift their entire workforce to remote working. These changes will have a direct impact in the way we work. Obviously, there is no denying that flexibility in work and remote working will be the key factors from now on. Companies need to ask themselves if they have invested enough into a full-blown strategy to ensure a smooth transition to home office routines. And if they haven’t, they‘d better hurry up!


Another key learning point in 2020 concerns mental health. Noor points out that „in times of societal stress, topics on mental health are becoming much more prominent as well as the role of responsibility an employer plays in that.” For example many employees working remotely aren’t able to separate work time and personal time and fight feelings of loneliness. Just last year, Buffer’s State of Remote Work report showed that 22% of employees can’t unplug after work with 19% feeling lonely.


In light of these figures, HR departments need to step and react, especially while entire industries are adapting to new workstyles and spaces.


In our interview Noor talks about 4 main digital HR trends that stand out and will be more in focus in the HR field during the next few years:


  1. Strong focus on organisational impact in all areas of HR
  2. Shifting from employee experience to employee ownership
  3. HR Analytics and insights
  4. Stronger connection between performance and engagement


 1. Strong focus on organisational impact in all areas of HR


A focus on impact drives a very different, more enhanced conversation between employees and their company. We all know how it feels when an employee comes to do his job everyday and doesn‘t feeling connected to his work or company. According to  the 2020 engagement and retention report, 26% of employees feel undervalued and underappreciated. What do you think will happen if you gave them the opportunity to align their performances with their personal development within the company? By giving them autonomy and making them accountable you create happier and more engaged employees.


Good questions that HR managers can ask, as Noor points out, are where the employee had the biggest impact and what could be done to achieve an even higher impact. Together with employees, they could co-create a step-by-step plan on how to move forward. It’s important to have this mindset at the recruitment stage. Talking about the impact employees want to have within the company will change the dynamic of interviews


“Using and embedding the word “impact” in your HR routines will help to create a different culture and will encourage a different level of conversation.” - Noor van Boven



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2. Employee experience to employee ownership


The way people experience their jobs and work environment has  always been a key topic for HR departments. “It’s in their DNA,” as Noor shares with us. Crafting a positive employee experience  enables employee ownership. A Gallup report stated that highly engaged teams show 21% greater profitability. This is certainly something all HR departments dream about, isn’t it?!



3. HR Analytics and insights


People Analytics have been around for years now, especially in the field of recruitment, to assess and measure the impact of each employee. However, Noor believes that there is still room for improvement for HR departments, by focussing on data and insights to develop organisational goals and strategies. HR managers should concentrate on consistenly monitoring measurements of employee’ happiness and organisational efficiency.


Use your business and financial acumento analyse performance. Noor believes that benchmarking is increasingly becoming the common DNA of HR departments around the world. Knowing about absenteeism rates, cost per hire or training costs can really make a difference for HR managers. Ultimately, we all need to stay on top of the numbers, and knowing which data proves the return on investment based on our decisions. And doing a regular pulse check to ensure that direction we‘re heading is actually aligned with the goals of the company.



4. Connection between performance and engagement


Employee engagement surveys are important measurements of happiness and organisational health. A report by the Engagement Institute  estimates that disengaged employees cost U.S. companies up to $550 billion a year. By listening to the needs of employees to ensure they are happy with their workload and environment, HR pros can contribute enormously to the organisation’s overall performance.


The evolution of HR technology has enabled us to actually start making the connection between these engagement scores and performance in our organisation. Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS) can be provide these valuable insights and Norr believes this highly relevant information means that the journey will only continue.



HR solutions trends for 2020


"With digital and tech companies being big players today, people are a company’s biggest expense, and HR managers are in control of the people budget.“ - Noor van Boven


One of the biggest HR trends for 2020 will see HR departments and managers thinking about is how they‘d like to spend the company’s money most effectively as the business keeps growing. A good way is to expand the digital infrastructure of their HR departments and to be really engaged in the process. Noor talks about gaining a deep understanding what problems HR departments are trying to solve and then look for solutions.


Thank you, Noor, for those fascinating insights into the HR trends of 2020!



About Noor van BovenNoor van Boven - Interview (1)


Noor reflects on over 20 years‘ international human resources experience in building, scaling and transforming organisations. In that time, she has seen a big shift in what has been required from HR departments over the years.


Read here more about important human resources statistics you should know about.

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