SU lens on Talent Trends Report: Part 1

I’ve recently read a report on 2020 Talent Trends from Mercer, and I think there’s insight and implications for employees.

Mercer is a large HR consulting company. They do research and prepare advice for Executives and HR personnel to apply with employees. One recent form of advice came in their Annual Global Talent Trends Report (2020). The audience for this report is the document is Boss/Executive/HR.

There is much advice published about changes in the workplace that focus on the employer and what they should do. I wonder: What if such advice was shaped for an audience of employees, who might like to exercise their personal agency for change? How might YOU, an employee, get value from such insight?

I’ve done some initial work to reframe the thinking of this particular report (in two parts), so you as an employee can consider what it might mean for you. Fair warning – I am assuming in my advice that you have a Self unLimited orientation, where you will assert your freedom to think and choose what serves your interests, alongside that of any organisation where you work.


A. The context in which organisations are considering choices about employees

From the report:

  • “98% of executives plan to redesign their organizations to make them fit for tomorrow — with vertical cuts into departments and functions followed by delayering and moving to a matrixed structure being priorities.”
  • “most companies (85%) expect technological transformation to continue as a primary business disruptor, while rising customer expectations (87%) and industry consolidation (80%) feature heavily”.


Implications for Employees with a Self unLimited orientation

  • As organisations reinvent themselves, how will you reinvent yourself to be relevant? There is much information and inspiration for new ways of working and living shared in social media. Are you aware of this? Have you digested any of it?
  • What is value/valuable to you and how might it be created in these conditions? Don’t let an organisation define the employee value proposition – that’s for you/employees to define. As employer, they can definitely decide how their offerings and benefits can address what is value to you. Start yourself with the Value Exchange Activity. Encourage your fellow team members to do it also. Alert your HR and Executive teams that you are becoming fluent in talking about value and are ready to be co-creators offering a ‘Desirability’ perspective for them to influence ‘Feasibility’ and ‘Viability’ perspectives that is their responsibility for organisational interests.
  • What terms & conditions do you want/need to work well in such situations? What’s working for you now? What would you like to be different? Form up you own view and prepare yourself to share with your boss and/or team.
  • What skills and mindsets do you need to develop or renew to be ‘fit for tomorrow’? Here’s a list from the World Economic Forum that they published in 2015 for 2020. Which of these have you been working on? Find a list of what is projected for the next 5-10 years. Make a plan on how you will enrich yourself.
  • How will your reputation need to shift or adjust with such changes? It can be easy to get stuck with an old story about who you are and what you can do. Now is the time to check what that story is and make it different if it no longer serves you and the changing environment. Be sure to let others know the shift you have made, or are making. Your stories live within the relationships you have.
  • What relationships will support you when there is a lot of change and disruption? Identify the people you can count on, and let them know you would value their support. You might mutually support each other with a kind word, a listening ear or sometimes the tough love of a reality check.
  • How far ahead in time, does your reign look: what decisions have you for the near and long-term? How will they need to adjust? As the sovereign of your workscape, you get to decide how the organisational decisions for their future, intersect with your future. You may have things to add or remove to your workscape to achieve good alignment with any organisation where you work – if that is what is important to you.
  • What do you need to keep visible and front-of-mind, so you don’t lose sight of it, with regards to decisions you are making for your workscape? Without being overwhelmed or fearful of all current and potential disruptions – what is YOUR focus that can act like your personal North Star or anchor for a bit of stability in a stormy sea?


2. A focus on well-being for individuals and society

From the report: Organisations are advised “need a more expansive view about an organization’s responsibilities. One that is being tested now, that has the organization’s purpose extending beyond shareholder return, and that places individual and societal well-being at its core. … Two in three employees already felt at risk of burnout before the pandemic began.”


Implications for Employees with a Self unLimited orientation

  • What is wellbeing to You? Don’t allow an organisation to dictate what is wellbeing for you, or what is your highest priority for wellbeing. With knowledge of what personal wellbeing looks like, you are better placed to consider how you will make this happen. You are ultimately responsible for your own well-being.
  • What things can the organisation do to support your wellbeing as you know it? Are you aware of what they already do? Have you been actively availing yourself of what’s available? Organisations do have resources you can tap into – often more than you can supply for yourself. If they’ve got things to offer, utilise them if they are a good fit.
  • Where the organisation isn’t able to support you as you need it – where else can you get wellbeing needs meet? What could you actively pursue to make a difference for today and tomorrow’s needs? Be proactive in looking for services and products that fit you.
  • How can you renew yourself? What tonic are you thirsty for and where can you get this? If you don’t have a view for yourself, someone else will surely give you one and it might not be a beverage that satisfies. Consider that you might not need to learn anything new, simply revisit what you already know and ensure you are protecting your precious reserves of energy and attention.
  • What practices (a holistic consideration of mindset, skills, knowledge and tools) are you capable in, that are relevant for situations with high levels of uncertainty and ambiguity? Employees who have these practices and are keeping themselves fit in such practices will have an advantage.
  • Do you know how to recognise burnout for yourself? If you feel unenergised, is it due to burnout … or something else, like boredom? It’s good to know your work style, preferences and values which are the baseline for what’s important to you. Feeling unenergised can be the result of these being violated without you being consciously aware of boundaries being crossed.
  • What are your social responsibilities to the collective beyond the institutions you work for, to the communities, societies and environment in which you live? To be Self unLimited is to think about self, but not to the exclusion of others. We co-exist with others and our choices impact others. Let those choices be ones with good social impact.


That’s a lot to take in.

So, deep breathe. And take note of what strongly resonated with you today, and let that be your starting point. Don’t try to address this all at once.

Remember, you are the sovereign of your workscape. You decide what to do with such information. May your decisions be considered, wise and right for you.


In Part 2 of this series, there are more thoughts as I shine a Self unLimited lens on the report’s contents.



Helen Palmer, Founder of Self unLimited, has not followed a traditional path in her ‘career’, nor does she intend to. It’s been her personal experience that she’s made plans, then life happened and things went in a direction that wasn’t anticipated. As a consequence she’s fascinated by the emergent and serendipitous approach to life and work. She thinks about ways to help others navigate the future of work, given the ambiguous possibilities and opportunities if there is courage to take that journey. And for good measure, she likes to inject humour and originality into her work.


(Amended) Photo by Jud Mackrill on Unsplash