When people think of HR, many limit the scope of its functions to a person in charge of hiring or firing employees. However, it’s much more complex and vital where an organization’s human capital is managed, optimized, and compliance verified.
Current transformations in working conditions, office space, virtual staff and technology itself seemingly are and most likely will continue to restructure companies’ internal structure, development and functioning, as much as the meaning and positioning of their HR department. The digital nomad lifestyle is trending at the moment and companies expect to see more and more of their workforce going remote. This transition will require human relations to make a sizable pivot toward a world where employees aren’t working under their roof.
Not to mention the rise of the freelancer economy. Predictions are saying that by 2020 a whopping 43 per cent of the workforce will be earning freelance income. This will create a massive shift in the way companies manage their talent. Some are calling for the end of large bureaucratic HR departments in face of the freelancer economy. We still see tremendous value from human resources in a freelancer and digital nomad world though. Human resources staff will need to learn a lot of new things about what the modern workforce needs, as well as new regulations and procedures that will arise with new employment arrangements becoming standard.
To understand how the future will evolve for them, we asked the experts to share their beliefs about where HR was headed in the future…
What’s the future of HR?
Here’s what we learned…
Amy Zimmerman, Head of People Operations at Kabbage
“10 years from now, my hope for the industry is that the term HR is dead. It’s an old term dating back to the Industrial Revolution and it is completely irrelevant in today’s professional climate – who wants to be referred to as a “resource” nowadays?
Instead, I believe that Artificial Intelligence has and will play a significant role in the People Operations function. From onboarding (payroll and insurance) to recruiting (sourcing/resume evaluation and interview scheduling) to professional development and performance management, all HR functions will be positively impacted by new technology.
I also believe that businesses will realize how critical company culture is and they will therefore be actively investing in their unique value propositions. Companies that treat their team members like customers are already seeing amazing results in their business’ performance, so I believe these factors will truly redefine and reinvent the HR term.”
Steve Hunt, Senior Vice President, Human Capital Management Research at SAP SuccessFactors
“We will see greater investment and accountability for managers to be effective managers. From a psychology perspective, we know what it takes to be a good manager: set clear goals using participative goal discussions, ask employees what you can do to support their work, provide ongoing feedback and recognition to encourage success, and recognize and reward people’s accomplishments.
The issue is companies have tolerated putting people in manager roles who don’t know how to do these things or don’t do them well. This is starting to change. Companies wouldn’t give someone keys to a $500,000 piece of machinery without ensuring they are trained on how to operate it and operate it appropriately. They are starting to realize the same is true about giving someone management responsibility over employees who have as much or more impact on company revenue over time.
Increasing use of mobile and “instant messenger” type tools to give quick feedback and suggestions. More and more, we are living in a world of 140 character messages. The trend is to provide very small amounts of information more frequently. This is probably a lousy way to lead a country, but it can be relatively effective for coaching individual employees. Although there will always also be a need for more in-depth conversations too.”
Ji-A Min, Head Data Scientist at Ideal
“The future of HR is using AI and technology to automate and improve the workflow.
Examples of how AI and technology can be used to automate HR include:
Machine learning for candidate screening that learns employees’ experience, skills, and qualifications from their resumes to automatically screen, grade, and rank new candidates.
VR technology to create more realistic pre-hire tests to more accurately assess a candidate’s skills. Candidates, on the other hand, can use VR to experience a preview of what the job will look like to better determine their fit.
Chatbots for employee training and development to answer FAQs and provide feedback.”
Alexandre Pachulski, CPO & Co-Founder of Talentsoft
“HR won’t be the ones making suggestions anymore, but the ones making everything possible. Mathematical inductions, AI & big data will empower companies to make macro recommendations (in which market should you invest?) as well as micro recommendations (in which project should you get involved?). Furthermore, psychosocial & behavioral human factors could be obstacles, no matter how relevant the recommendations are.
eHR must play as coaches, or will train these machines to become coaches themselves – but will Humankind put that level of trust into machines? HR will truly become casting directors taking full advantage of their blended workforce, looking for the right talent for a project. They will likely experiment within teams, trying to identify if a task should be achieved by a robot or a human. Until the dawn of technological singularity finally comes. HR will mainly be focusing on creating the necessary conditions for everyone to be able to give the best of themselves…Even though it should already be a reality.”
Ryan Naylor, Founder of LocalWork.com
“HR has been pushed to be a reactive position and playing defense to the people needs of an organization. The next generation of HR leaders will be required to forecast the people trends and operate similarly to a marketing department. HR leaders will be responsible to telling the people story of an organization. As companies look to differentiate in the marketplace, they’ll rely on their company culture to create an emotional connection with customers, vendors, employees…etc.”
Ira S Wolfe, President of Success Performance
“Human Resources will transform into Human and Robot Resources (HRR)…or it won’t survive at all. Traditional functions like compliance and administrative will become automated and replaced with robots, artificial intelligence and automation. People who still work in HR will drive the strategy of how work gets done, which will be a collaboration between man and machine. Workforce planning will be an integral component in achieving business outcomes as evidence-based-decision making using predictive analytics becomes an essential HR competency.”
Elissa Tucker, Principal Research Lead for Human Capital Management at APQC
“The future of HR will be about delivering three things to the organization.
- Efficient and effective human capital processes— streamlining, standardizing, and integrating talent management processes across the organization (recruiting, training, performance management, rewards, and retention).
- A superb HR customer experience—providing easy to access, timely, relevant, and engaging HR services to potential employees, employees, managers, and leaders.
- Superior human capital decisions– advising leaders on ways to solve their top talent challenges by applying expertise in workforce analytics, change management, talent management, and business operations.
Different organizations will choose different paths to achieve these objectives (different HR delivery models, technologies, etc.) but these will be HR’s top reasons for being in the future.”
Dave Lopes, Director of Recruiting at Badger Maps
“Women are still underrepresented in the workplace, especially in positions of management and seniority. I think that will change dramatically. We strive to diversify the workplace, not only culturally, but in regard to gender. More than half of our workforce consists of women, including our engineering team and we’re happy to have such a well balanced workplace. A diverse work environment promotes productivity and workplace happiness. I think more companies will realize that in the future.
Employee engagement is another trend. In San Francisco, we have moved beyond the conservative, micro managed work environment. Companies have begun to recognize that employee happiness and a healthy work environment are a high priority for employees. To retain top talent, supporting employees is crucial. Giving employees the opportunity to be creative and letting them know their work matters gives employees the motivation to stick around and a genuine sense of workplace satisfaction.”
Trent D. Bryson, CEO of Bryson Financial
“The future of Human Resources is truly maximizing a human workforce. As robots continue to do more, reactive job saving duties will become less and less important. Human Resources will become the differentiator in companies’ ability to recruit, retain and foster quality talent. The elimination of presenteeism, combative or cancerous employees, and high turnover will be critical metrics for Human Resources. The reactive, fear driven, compliant obsessed HR Director will become replaced with creative, strategic, and analytical minds that possess the ability to be in C level strategy meetings and contribute to the future success and strategy of companies.”
Eamon Tuhami, CEO & Founder of Motivii
“Traditional HR, as we know it, will be dead in 5 years time. It has too many negative connotations attached to it. Most employees see it as a hiring/firing function; a support function that they get little exposure to apart from sparse training and a load of paperwork. This new breed of HR professionals is bold and willing to innovate with new ideas and technology.
Any other business function uses data and analytics to make informed decisions, and HR should not be any different. Traditional HR focuses on the annual or infrequent collection of employee feedback, and this is simply insufficient. In order to innovate HR and stay competitive in a heavily saturated business landscape managers and organizations need to be given real-time, frequent feedback so they can identify problems week on week and course correct quickly.
What’s more traditional HR relies on the trading of intangible things such as opinions, and focus lies too heavily on employee relationships. At Motivii we want to inform decisions and opinions by providing real-time, people-orientated analytics, aligning the HR department with the strategic objectives of the overall business.”