What does the future of human resource management hold?

The world of work is changing due to a rise in remote working, gig economy projects and freelancing, and a generational switch, which is changing the way we view our roles at work an in society as a whole.

But what will all of this mean for the HR professionals who continue to try to manage the wellbeing of their employees (no matter where they are located), as well as attract the best talent, and develop these high performers through better learning management systems and employee development programs.

In this article, we’ll look at the state of HR in 2018, and how this will change over the next ten years, plus what the technology impact will be on HR professionals.

High-performing teams replace middle management

Most traditional companies organize themselves in a hierarchical structure, with teams made up of managers and employees with similar job roles in the same location or who work on the same projects.

Employee progress has often be limited to moving up through the ranks of this team or department.

What HR looks like in 2018

With a view to understanding how companies are challenging this traditional approach to managing and retaining talent and developing employees, asked HR professionals about their policies for managing talented teams.

According to our survey, less than half (47 percent) of HR professionals have a talent management policy not just for developing individuals, but for the development of the team as a whole.

future of human resource management talent management

Harvard Business Review also reports: “A five-member team, comprised entirely of A-players, can produce 16 times as much output – or the same output in one-sixteenth the time – as the sum of five average players working individually.”

What HR will look like in 2028

Gartner calls this change from traditional hierarchical structures to high performing teams, “We Working.”

It says that We Working is: “A work philosophy that depends on ensembles of autonomous and high-performing teams fulfilling crucial outcomes. Work will revolve around portfolios of diversified roles performed in teams that dynamically resize and reform. The trust among We Working teammates will dovetail with the rise of algorithmic management to reduce the need for middle managers.”

We Working will focus on:

  • Teamwork
  • Small and flexible teams
  • Fluctuation workloads
  • Shrinking timeframes
  • Flurries of information exchange and coordination

This will also require businesses to:

  • Overhaul performance management processes
  • Manage teams across expertise and borders
  • Challenge the role of human managers
  • Replace middle management responsible for and collecting data with algorithms (robo bosses).

New skills quickly become old skills

At the Gartner Symposium in Barcelona in 2017, one interesting area that the keynote speech touched on was the lack of software engineers with artificial intelligence (AI) skills, and how this was an in-demand area of development.

Should I become an AI software engineer, I thought, then I can have companies fighting over me and my unique skills?

What HR looks like in 2018

The digital economy with its new business models, ideas, and ways of working has already led to a change in the types of skills that are in high demand such as AI coding. Currently complex problem solving is at the top of the World Economic Forum’s core sets across industries. Non routine work is another area that has experienced rapid growth as the U.S. Census Bureau says it has grown from 40 percent of occupations in 1975 to 60 percent in 2013.

This has posed a problem for recruiters, with 40.4 percent naming a shortage of skilled candidates as the biggest challenge they expect to face over the next 12 months according to research we carried out in September 2017.

In addition, companies are struggling to find the right way to offer learning opportunities to employees. Currently, 44 percent of companies are actively looking to replace their existing LMS.

What HR will look like in 2028

Constant upskilling will be the name of the game come 2028 to meet the needs of a problem solving perspective. Despite AI software development being a much needed skill in 2018, by 2028 straight coding will be largely automated and AI products will (re)design themselves. This means that AI engineers, for example, will need to reskill or deploy their existing skills on other projects.

In 2028, the digital economy will require employees to constantly upskill and find new, creative ways of thinking and problem solving.

Technology implication

For HR, this will involve new approaches to workplace learning, such as boot camps and hackathons, as well as more training beyond high school and postsecondary education. One of these approaches could also involve learning experience platforms, which offer a Netflix-style consumer experience.

Freelancing becomes the norm (and depends on personal reviews)

According to a Gallup poll, 37 percent of respondents have already worked virtually, while the the World Economic Forum called flexible work, including virtual teams, “one of the biggest drivers of transformation” in the workplace.

What HR looks like in 2018

The rights and wrongs, and dos and don’ts of working remote and freelance are still being worked out.

In terms of the gig economy, there are fears of exploitation, as well as questions over how to manage, develop, and pay people who don’t work in house for your company but help produce your product or run your service.

With working remotely, companies are still working out how to best communicate (should it be Slack or Skype or Google Hangouts?), how to monitor productivity, how to build a company culture, and how to trust remote employees so you don’t have to check up on them all the time.

What HR will look like in 2028

To make a living in the gig economy world, everyone will have to learn to market their skills to and build their online reputation to get hired for different projects.

Gartner says (available to paid clients only):

“We will have to think up new ways to generate value, tap into new We Working ensembles, and market the output or outcome to ventures, companies and causes.”

In what sounds like something inspired by an episode of Black Mirror: in 2028 we will be rating everything an everyone on factors such as trust, competence an ethical behavior in a similar way to what we currently do. This is how we will build our own personal value and market our services to companies.

Technology implication

For HR, this will mean building physical and virtual workplaces for all the different ways people work with your company, whether that be a full time employee, an independent contractor, a supplier, or a consultant.

According to Gartner: “We will work and speak with team members across languages, borders and cultures, using avatars, language software, conversational interfaces and real-time dialect translation to translate and interpret with almost no loss of context or meaning. Norms will vary by region.”

Work becomes about passion and purpose, not money

If you ask my parents what I should look for in a job they would say stability and salary. If you ask my friends what I should look for, they are more likely to say work that is meaningful, that I enjoy, and that makes me feel like I’m doing something that is important for the world. This change in mindset will become more pronounced as we move towards 2028.

What HR looks like in 2018

Employers are starting to wake up to the importance of purpose in work, as employee development and training plans start to evolve. This involves letting employees have more control of the goals they want to pursue in the work.

According to our research, 10 percent of companies let employees set their own goals.

According to Gartner research (available to paid clients): “By looking at individual careers as a series of experiences aligned to a purpose, organizations can be more agile. By enabling individuals to chart their own course and follow opportunities—both within and outside the organization—they can reap the benefits of a great employer brand that supports and encourages growth without the constraints of fixed career paths.”

What HR will look like in 2028

As Gartner succinctly puts it: “By 2028, we will be decades beyond the work dreams of our parents and grandparents.

“We will become deliberate in shaping and shifting our careers in a meaningful direction. Our impact and value will be tied to our mission, our purpose and our passion. Meaning will drive commitment.”

As the baby boomer generation retires, and their idea of what to look for in a job fades away, and millennials and Generation Z take over, the criteria we use to choose work will shift radically.

Technology impact

The impact of this on HR software will be most felt in attracting and retaining top talent. Employers will need to invest in their branding and image to put issues such as corporate social responsibility at the forefront in order to attract and retain top talent.

Businesses will have to go beyond offering competitive compensation packages, and instead help employees to find their purpose and make a socially meaningful impact through work.

The dark side of wellness emerges

Employee wellness—and companies monitoring activities such as what you eat, how many steps you take, and so on— is still in its infancy, even though there are a growing number of apps that can help companies create an a wellbeing program.

What HR looks like in 2018

Currently employee wellness look like wearable watches to count steps, to free spinning classes and healthy snacks, to nap rooms. These wellness initiatives are already seen as intrusive to some, but helpful in dealing with the stresses of modern lives to others.

What HR will look like in 2028

With more people turning to freelancing and choosing their own projects, managing when to switch off will become key (as it has been for freelancers for decades now).

The impact of working remotely will also be felt through employees’ personal lives with the social relationships formed with people we work with changing due to the distance between us.

Gartner says:

“As technology closes the divide between geographically separate people, it introduces cracks in relationships and cultures. The extreme distribution of work means that many of us will not build the intense social relationships that have formed for centuries. Some of us will wonder where we belong, others will be lonely, and others will make far-flung work a social experiment.”

Technology impact

Technology will emerge to monitor when we have worked too much and when we need to recharge. This will take into account exercise regimes, dietary habits, and biorhythms.

Gartner research also suggests that companies should: “Evolve training programs to incorporate ongoing reinforcement of brain-aware principles through human or software coaching. Include programs to support the 3D employee — physical, social and mental well-being — not just role-related training.”

Next steps

Here is what companies can do to ensure they are prepared for the future of human resource management, and the new world of work:

  • Invest in their branding and image to put issues such as corporate social responsibility at the forefront in order to attract and retain top talent.
  • Make what people do resonate personally. Weave in personal stories by creating employee videos to showcase your company culture and share these socially to create brand fans.
  • Create a page on your website that highlights your mission and values.

What do you think the future of human resource management will look like?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or by emailing me at karen@getapp.com

You can also read more about the latest HR trends on our blog.

Sources and further reading:

6 Ways the Workplace Will Change in the Next 10 Years

6 Ways to Prepare for the Future of Work

Retraining and Reskilling Workers in the Age of Automation