The Human Resource Executive’s What’s Keeping HR Up at Night in 2020 Survey results are in.  

The survey found 74 percent of HR executives say their stress levels have increased dramatically or somewhat in the past 18 months. 

Coming into 2020, what are the key findings and how can your human resources team avoid these nightmares? 

#1: For the first time, retaining key talent tops HR’s primary concerns

CHROs knows just as well as CEOs that employee turnover harms every part of an organization from sales, operations, finance, and more. The key task for HR executives in 2020 becomes: “How can employers capture and accelerate the transfer of knowledge to the existing workforce?”

Competitive compensation isn’t enough – in order to stand out it is critical to build an entire employee-value proposition experience.

#2: Succession planning 

As a result of retention concerns, HR executives worry about succession planning to reduce risks associated with institutional knowledge flying out the door.

The report continues, “The reality is that experience is the best leadership development you can give people,” says Tami Simon, senior vice president and global corporate consulting leader at Segal, a benefits and HR consulting firm. “Manage to people’s strengths. You also don’t want a company of Borgs. Different people—leaders who are quiet and demure or others who are jovial and effervescent—can be successful in their own way. That’s how they remain authentic and how you create a culture of innovation and diversity of thought within an organization.”

#3: Employee experience 

What does employee experience entail? Creating transparency and cultures of trust to increase morale and retain talent.

“Healthy cultures,” Simon says, “are also learning cultures, where giving and receiving feedback is a natural part of the lifecycle of every role, project or task. The point isn’t to be critical, but to create a culture of transparency, learning, and trust where everyone receiving feedback knows their job matters and that their boss or co-workers want them to succeed.”

Creating a culture where employees know how their responsibilities contribute to the organization’s goals or mission is foundational and should be integrated into every manager’s leadership training at every level at regular intervals.

The core focus of HR execs is best summarized from one of the responders:

“Organizations will struggle with recruitment and retention in this difficult labor market if they lack a great employee experience and a ready-now leadership pipeline.” 


So how can your HR team avoid these pitfalls, and what are the key steps leaders need to take and incorporate in their 2020 people strategy?


  • Focus on creating an employee value proposition – that means defining the right fit for that person
  • Being transparent on what constitutes success for a given role, based on objective metrics (eg. quota attainment or time to resolution).
  • Develop a leadership pipeline based on data, and have multiple possible incumbents vs. the single threaded traditional success planning approach
  • Align the executive team on the bottom-line impact of company culture and how to match the right people to the right role.
  • Start with a pilot in metrics-driven roles, such as sales or customer success. If you’re looking for a way to develop success profiles and look at internal talent pools at scale, request a full Aptology demo.