What Does the Future Look Like for Human Resources?

Written by Chris Pestell on Dec 12, 2018

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Over the last decade or so Human Resources has had a reputation of being the function employees to go to for support and guidance around the organisational challenges they face. As a result, HR are often seen as sympathisers for the employees who believe they are perhaps being treated unfairly, or a department that provides employees with the support they may need to evolve in their roles.

If we take a brief look at the history of HR, previously known as Personnel Management, seeing its debut in the 1970's, it is clear to see where this perspective has stemmed from. As a function it comprised of the activities like recruitment, work conditions, welfare of employees, training and development and employee exit (retrenchment, retiring schemes).  The 'Personnel Department' has come a long way since then and from the late '80s developed into Human Resource Management as we know it today.

However, whilst some of this still remains true, if you scratch the surface and eliminate the sigma around HR being all ‘tea and tissues', there is much more value HR can supply to any organisation. Arguably, without HR, businesses (SME or Large Corporate) would not be able to operate to meet operational standards. Even taking a high-level view at the responsibilities of HR, it is clear they are responsible for a number or crucial business initiatives, including: hiring; on-boarding; employee retention; performance management; organisational culture and development and compensation and benefits. Not only this but Human Resources are also trusted advisers to the senior executives who drive board-room agendas. Specifically around topics such as; financial planning and the people structures within businesses. 

The addition of new functions compared with the original Project Management approach (although there are still companies today adopting the older method) has defined HR to be a more strategic and integrated approach to the employment, development and well-being of the people working in organisations.

Properly managed, Human Resource Management can offer a tremendous amount of value in achieving the key strategic objectives of businesses. Especially as they are continuously evolving to ensure the businesses, they operate in are ahead of curve.

How is HR changing?

HR is evolving as companies fight to become more agile to keep up with the advancement of technology and changing workforce dynamics. HR now have a massive opportunity to not only add value to the organisations they operate in, but be the driving force behind the overall company performance. Their key people initiatives have a huge impact on the success of the business, and as stated by experts;  

There a direct correlation between engaged employees and the overall company financial performance (The Data Driven Leader – Jenny Dearborn, David Swanson).

So, as we move away from the traditional views of Human Resources, what are the key areas HR will be associated with as we move into 2019?

  1. Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence will become a key focus in 2019 and beyond- impacting both boardroom and hiring decisions. For HR, Artificial Intelligence will play a crucial role in allowing HR experts to focus on adding value and working on key initiatives, by utilising technology to automate some of the more transactional HR duties.

AI will also contribute to evolving HR in many areas, such as: recruitment processes, personalised and online employee experiences (training, on-boarding), removing bias on decisions and performance using algorithms and automated grading. Artificial intelligence has already started to play a huge role in sourcing top talent, helping to source and analyse CV’s and behavioural profiles.

  1. Talent Crunch

With the war for talent affecting more organisations than not, countless C-Suite Executives are finding that recruiting top talent is one of the most concerning challenges facing their organisations. This is a huge problem when it comes to safeguarding the efficiency, productivity and financial growth of businesses. No business can operate without experts who can deliver against key initiatives.

So, in the war for talent how will the role of HR evolve to overcome this challenge?

  • HR Leaders need to understand what employees are demanding from employers, and then analyse these key trends to shape their hiring strategies.
  • HR will need to be marketers to entice top talent in a unique way and showcase how their business can provide competitive career paths.
  • HR must design hiring strategies that meet demands in a competitive market and help entice the industry’s most in demand experts.
  1. Big Data

 Data is arguably HR’s most vital asset. However, a recent survey found that only 11% of business leaders trust HR to use data to find top talent. With more businesses adopting new digital processes, HR will need to keep up. Data will play a huge role in determining how employees are performing and as a result contributing to financial growth and predictions of the business.  

  1. A flexible workforce

By 2020, 75% of the UK workforce will be made up of millennial's, resulting in a changing business landscape. Millennial's are demanding a new way of working, which offers a more flexible work life balance, but with the opportunity to progress and challenge themselves.

As a result, HR teams are focusing on developing strong ‘Employee Value Propositions’ that meet these demands. Gone are the days where businesses can entice employees with pay rises and bonus schemes.

  1. Learning and Development

HR teams are set to focus their attention towards ensuring employees have opportunities to learn and improve on their skills. This also benefits organisations because in turn they will have up-skilled employees who are experts in their fields. Additionally, employees who are offered opportunities to develop are more likely feel valued and want to progress within the organisation.

As previously mentioned, artificial intelligence will play a crucial role in supporting HR’s learning and development key initiatives by providing virtual and personalised training.

 What next?

From speaking with many Senior C-Suite Executives, it is clear there has never been a more exciting time to be working in HR. Nonetheless, these new trends will not come without challenges and HR leaders will need to be agile and strategic to ensure they are set-up for success and at the front of boardroom agendas.

We would be keen to hear your thoughts on how the role of HR has and continues to evolve, so please leave your comments below. 

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