55% of Global 2000 CHROs put Employee Experience (EX) in their list of priorities for 2019. Focussing on enabling productivity, wellbeing and profitability has meant the employee experience discipline has matured rapidly in the last twelve months. But what do employees expect from their companies in 2020? And what EX trends will emerge over the next decade?

1. EX will find its home in the business

Research conducted with more than 500 Global 2000 companies proves that EX provides business value in two ways: a more effort­less experience, and superior experiences at ‘moments of truth’. We also know that the total savings potential for great EX in a 20,000 people organization amounts to 150 million USD per year.

It’s little surprise that EX will be counted among 75% of CHROs ‘top three priorities’ for 2020 – or that three out of four CEOs believe EX is a company priority.

And the recent State of EX report concluded that a massive majority of CEOs (more than 90%) will look to HR to take the lead.

With buy-in from the business, 2020 will likely see ‘Head of Employee Experience’ roles grow in number and report to the CHRO’s direct reports – possibly even the CHRO, themselves.  Brand new EX teams will be established in larger companies, and existing teams will expand by up to 13%.

2. The EX Ecosystem will arrive

2019’s EX initiatives were a series of discrete components: office space, digital tools and leadership culture. And (for most companies) they didn’t have as much impact as expected. Progressive organizations realize that employees navigate a complex ecosystem at work, experiencing this ecosystem as a whole rather than as a set of independent service silos. The EX Ecosystem (see below) is a way of visualizing the interplay of people, tools, services and context in an organizational system with individual members of the workforce at the centre progressing through their lifecycle and experiences with the organization. Unlike 2019’s discrete components, the EX Ecosystem allows HR to conceptualize and design initiatives that cross the interconnected layers of interactions and extend far beyond experiences with HR delivery systems or HR services and products.

EX ecosystem


The Employee Experience Ecosystem

Equipped with this understanding, 2020 will see HR adopt an EX Ecosystem approach and aim to design and deliver experiences within this broader, human-centered ecosystem.

3. EX will scale up to reach everyone, everywhere, all the time

With the EX Ecosystem at the heart of HR’s work, large companies will spend 2020 building distinct capabilities to iterate the design and delivery of experiences and scale across their complex organization.

Iterative EX design


Iterative design and delivery fueled by insights, data and measurement

Fueled by data and insights, 2020’s EX teams will identify potential moments of truth and effortless moments, and inform the design of new experiences. After prototyping, feedback and a few design iterations, the new design is then delivered by the (mostly local) organization. To ensure that the design is effectively delivered and creates the desired experience, companies measure the quality of experience in context and at the point of delivery. Delivery issues are ironed out locally and by iteration until the experience measure reaches expectations. And if not, it is handed back to the design board for another design iteration.

4. The EX operating model will be embedded in the flow of work

Traditional, ‘siloed’ HR models like the Business Partner Model are too inflexible for 2020’s human-centered EX ecosystem and the dual iterations of design and delivery. A successful HR model of this decade will be more agile and less ‘siloed’, pooling with as much as 50% of HR resources.

Blueprint of a future HR model


Blueprint of a future HR model (McKinsey Global Institute)

2020’s operating model involves introducing a centralized people experience team. The people experience team utilizes ’borrowed’ specialized skill sets (such as experience design) and collaborates with centralized and decentralized service delivery to create and deliver better experiences. Success is measured by both the quality of design and the quality of delivery. This model will then evolve to a ‘Version 1’ of an agile EX model that breaks down siloes within not just HR but also beyond.

2020 will see the first companies move towards these new, hybrid HR models with agile EX components. These companies will manage to embed EX in the flow of work – where it belongs.

5. A new trend will arise: Career experience

Bringing in by far the most return of EX initiatives, career development will be a goal for many organizations in 2020 and beyond.

As talent managers know, work in our new agile is organized more by skills than by jobs, and new skill requirements are evolving faster than ever before. For employees, success will depend on the ability to acquire new skills at speed; for organizations, success will be determined by the effective deployment of new skills.

Hence, skill building and career development will merge into one. And only human centered design and delivery of the career experience will mean people at work feel empowered to continuously acquire new skills. 2020 could deliver a self-led approach to careers and skills – it will be nothing less than a ‘revolution’.

Leaders, take note: keep humans at the core of your EX and embrace all that 2020 has to offer.


Learn more about 5 Horizons of Ex.