The Year of HR

Why 2020 Is The ‘Year Of HR’: A Conversation With Josh Bersin

By Shane Metcalf, CCO of 15Five

Perhaps now more than ever, demands on People Operations roles are incredibly high. Handling just the administrative side of HR while establishing a remote workforce can be a full-time job, let alone the all-important human element that requires your attention and resources.

Because the true power of People Ops lies in unlocking the potential of every employee, many HR leaders are discovering or refining new skills in 2020, what today’s guest is calling, “The Year of HR.” 

Josh Bersin is one of the top HR industry analysts, who recently launched the already successful Josh Bersin Academy, an online professional development resource that has become the “Home for HR” in recent months. Josh joined us to discuss his thoughts on the rapidly evolving role of People Ops professionals:

What do thought leaders like Josh Bersin have to share about HR, culture, and other workplace issues? Visit our Podcast Page.

The Year of HR is only getting started

Right now, in addition to staying in business during an economic downturn, companies are struggling to meet the demands of a workforce coping with a rapidly evolving world. In 2020, when companies are working proactively to create a sense of stability and safety for people, Josh sees the role of HR expanding more and more to fill this need.

Dealing with a global pandemic and escalating conversations about race and inclusion, every company must ask itself what type of citizenship they want to practice. This begins with how they treat their people, and then echoes out into the marketplace and beyond.

HR has an ongoing role to play in aligning the mission of the company with the mission of its people—this not only determines how employees perform but how their work contributes to a better world.


In this episode we also discuss:

• How current trends in HR are leading to more workplace creativity

• Creating values alignment between companies and their employees

• The economic factors that actually matter right now

• How companies can provide stability for their people in unstable times

• What companies can do to promote equity in the workplace and society


Being a good citizen

The following is a transcribed and edited portion of the Best-Self Management Podcast Episode 25, “Why 2020 Is The ‘Year Of HR’: A Conversation With Josh Bersin”: 

Shane: We live in a very psychotic world, where there’s a disconnection from the things that we’re seeing on TV and what the stock market is saying, and the actual lived experience.

So I’m curious, because as company leaders, we know we are a drop in the bucket, and as you said, even if we were Walmart, we would still have very little influence on the societal level. What can we do? What are you seeing the best companies do in order to create at least some security, some sense of sanity within their own companies?

Josh: Well, I think it’s a really interesting question. I think it’s very similar to what we can do as individuals. You can go home at night and watch TV and get mad, but you can also make your life better. You can turn the TV off and you can take care of your kids and your family, your friends. And I think that’s what we have to do in companies. Each company has the opportunity because most companies have a reasonable amount of resources and a reasonable amount of flexibility on where to put them.

Each company has to decide—I like the word citizenship—What is our level of citizenship? Who are we going to take care of?

Obviously we’re going to take care of our customers. We’re going to take care of our employees. Are we also going to take care of our employees’ families and communities, or are we going to take care of the environment? Are we going to do things in the political sphere or the environment.

Some companies are very, very focused on being good citizens. You know the stories of Patagonia as everybody knows, and Unilever, and these are companies that were founded many years ago as mission-driven organizations in some ways. I mean, Patagonia is a mission in disguise as a company. And Unilever has the same history. So every company has the opportunity to move around that scale, the CEO, the CFO, the senior leaders, etc.

And then during bad times, when the company is losing money, it’s hard, then you have to decide, well, can we continue to be this way? And the answer is you can, you just have to do it in a little more modest way. So that’s the role I think we play.

That’s the reason I, like what I do. I hopefully can influence companies and give them a little bit of freedom and a little bit of authority to do that. Because it always pays off. It always pays off to think more about your role in society. It seems to always make the company more successful.

Becky Johnson Studios

Josh Bersin is a Global Industry Analyst and Dean of the Josh Bersin Academy. He founded Bersin & Associates in 2001 to provide research and advisory services focused on corporate learning, HR, talent management & acquisition, and leadership. In 2019, Josh founded the Josh Bersin Academy, a professional development academy which has become the “Home for HR” in past months. He is frequently featured in publications such as Forbes, Harvard Business Review, and The Wall Street Journal. Josh is a popular blogger and has over 800,000 followers on LinkedIn.

David Hassell, CEO of 15Five

David Hassell is a business columnist, speaker, and serial entrepreneur who believes that when leaders institute cultural practices that support each person in being and becoming their best self, high performance and uncommon loyalty naturally result. As co-founder and CEO of 15Five, David created the science-inspired Best-Self Management methodology that helps leaders and managers address the hidden factors that stimulate sustainable growth and development – things like intrinsic motivation, strengths, and psychological safety. David has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Inc., Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and Wired. Follow him on Twitter @dhassell.

Shane Metcalf is a keynote speaker on building a world-class workplace and one of the world’s leading pioneers in the space of cultural engineering and positive psychology. His insights have been featured in Inc, Fast Company, Washington Post, and Tech Crunch. As the Co-founder of 15Five, Shane and his team support HR Executives with data-driven continuous performance management. 15Five has won numerous awards for its company culture, including the prestigious Inc Best Workplaces award, and is ranked #3 in the U.S. on GlassDoor. Follow Shane on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Image Credit: Stephen Hateley on Unsplash


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