What is the future of HR?

Imagine, if you will, your company without an HR function. Now suppose you’re asked to set up HR: What would you do? Would you create something similar or radically different? Would you create it at all?

The ‘new normal’ will vastly different
We’ve arrived at a turning point in history where new technology is profoundly changing people’s way of life as well as methods of manufacturing, distributing and selling goods. The changes brought about by the Digital Revolution will have a deep impact on the way businesses are organized and people look at work.

And though we expect to return to “normal” after we’ve overcome the financial crises, the “new normal” will be vastly different. The recovery will be jobless, as advancements in technology allow companies to replace manual labor with automation, robotics and artificial intelligence.

The future workforce and the career lattice
The workforce, HR’s primary focus, is changing: the future workforce will be smaller, as companies rely more on technology. The future workforce, encompassing 5 generations, wants a career lattice that caters to individual needs. They will move fluidly between companies and assignments, while the lines between their work and personal lives will become blurred.

Workers will bring their own devices (BYOD) and expect to use them in the enterprise. They will bring their own apps (BYOA) allowing them to complete assignments as they see fit. The future workforce will be placed all over the world, with people from different cultural and economic backgrounds working together in virtual teams.

What will the future workforce expect from HR? Let’s start with accepting they don’t need anything at all! They expect that they will be paid properly and on time, and that their benefits are taken care of. But any HR service provider can handle that.

The future workforce will be used to doing things for themselves, as the ongoing automation has cut out the middleman. Just think about how they listen to music, sign up for classes, buy insurance, book travel: they do it all online. They rely on their business leaders to coach them and help them achieve results, but they don’t expect any help from HR.

The consumerization of HR
That means that the Human Resources function will have to change too: going forward, HR will be remote, mobile, social, automated, specialized and smaller than in the past. This ‘consumerization’ of HR means that managers and employees expect direct access to HR on their smart devices, thereby cutting out HR as the middleman.

HR must focus on how to get the best results from people while eliminating anything non-essential from their schedule. Their main focus must be on designing leadership support programs that bring tangible results. I expect to see corporate HR develop into an organization which is increasingly centralized, organized at the global level with local involvement where necessary. HR must think of itself as a function that drives the business forward. Study after study confirms that people issues are at the forefront of CEOs’ minds. In the future, dealing with people must be owned by the business as a whole, not exclusively by HR.

The HR function of the future will consist of an HR Service Center (insourced or outsourced) and an HR Consultancy team (combining the former Business Partners and Centers of Excellence) that delivers HR services using a project-based approach quickly to respond to changing circumstances that have an effect on the workforce. Agility and flexibility are key requirements in response to evolving business needs.

The future of HR: Evolution, not revolution
The future of HR is not radically different from what it is today. The changes can’t compare to the big shifts that are happening in our society. Instead of a revolution, it’s an evolution. But just because it’s an evolution that does not mean the changes are small. One thing is clear: The future of HR lies outside the HR department. And if HR professionals don’t grasp that concept very soon, the future of HR will lie outside the company.

This article was published at http://www.xperthr.co.uk/blogs/employment-intelligence/2012/02/anita-lettink-what-is-the-futu.html

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