The ‘new’ Future of HR
Writing for Harvard Business Review in 2020, Jeanne C. Meister and Robert H. Brown predicted that the 2020s will be a “reset moment for HR.” Existing business trends combined with the COVID-19 pandemic to redefine the way people work, and therefore the way HR approaches everything from employee training and retention to corporate learning to company morale.
The common thread across each of these aspects of HR is the increasing role of technology in improving the skills, diversity, and wellbeing of employees. But how exactly is this relationship between tech and people in the workplace evolving? Keep reading to learn more.
The Future of HR is High Tech
The COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally changed the way we work. With remote work suddenly becoming the norm and the boundaries between home and the workplace collapsed, employees and business leaders alike have been forced to reconceptualise the famous “work-life balance.”
This change has brought both challenges and opportunities for HR professionals. On the one hand, the stressors of working from home during a pandemic has thrown the importance of centering employee wellbeing in the workplace into stark relief.
On the other hand, businesses have learned that more can be accomplished through technology than we ever thought possible, from basics like video conferencing to radical new uses for data analytics to solve business problems.
In their HBR article, Meister and Brown outline over 20 possible “HR jobs of the future” that reflect these trends toward integrating the interests of businesses and employees. Though these jobs vary widely in terms of the level of tech skills required, virtually all of them are geared in some way toward improving the relationship between human workers and the technology that helps them perform their job duties, learn new skills, collaborate with a diversity of colleagues, and stay healthy and resilient both on and off the clock.
Below, learn more about the most important trends in the future of HR.
VR-powered employee training
Virtual reality (VR) is changing how we train employees for soft skills and decision-making. Also known as immersive learning, VR-powered skills training brings numerous benefits to the workplace. Many businesses are finding that VR can be more effective than traditional soft skills training methods, such as videos or reviewing case studies.
Beyond giving trainees a more physically immersive experience that leads to higher engagement and better retention, VR-powered training delivers actionable data and insights, makes the training experience more accessible and able to be repeated on demand, and provides safe access to situations that may be difficult, dangerous, or even impossible to replicate in real life.
In other words, VR is allowing employees to learn more deeply and more flexibly than ever before.
Tech-enabled corporate learning
The trend toward tech-enabled learning extends beyond onboarding training to span the entire lifecycle of an employee’s career. No longer is “one-off” training sufficient – to keep up with changing trends, employees need to commit to continuous learning.
Accordingly, business leaders are utilizing tech to make learning opportunities more accessible and effective. Beyond the aforementioned VR-powered approach, as well as more traditional upskilling programs such as online courses and webinars, companies are also utilising gamification platforms to provide more personalised and engaging learning experiences.
Support for the hybrid workplace
As mentioned, the biggest change COVID-19 brought to the workplace has been a dramatic increase in remote and flexible work. Rather than returning to the old normal, many companies and employees alike have embraced the change, realizing that the flexibility of remote work can actually benefit workers and businesses.
As such, one of the primary focuses of HR of the future will be to usher in new hybrid workplaces, and incorporate this new normal into trainings and day-to-day operations. Once again, technology will be crucial in enabling efficient communication and collaboration across distances and time zones.
An app for everything
In their review of HR trends in the coming decade, Forbes sheds light on just how central apps have become to keeping employees productive, educated in their field, healthy, and happy. This trend represents yet another example of the role of HR in finding ways to utilize technology to improve the human aspects of work rather than replace them.
Responding to needs that existed before 2020 but shot to the top of business leaders’ priorities during the COVID-19 pandemic, a great many of these apps focus on improving employee mental health, physical health, and resilience in a changing world.
Data analytics has carved out a prominent space in virtually every aspect of business, accelerating the power of enterprises to examine and solve business problems. Yet when it comes to data analytics use cases, you might be surprised at the wealth of HR applications cropping up.
For example, many companies are turning toward AI for talent mobility and employee retention. With AI at their fingertips, HR leaders have higher visibility of open roles, internal talent, and opportunities for collaboration across departments, all of which can contribute to higher levels of employee retention. Similar AI applications are also being used to analyze and optimize hiring processes.
Business leaders are also using people analytics to facilitate more holistic approaches to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). As with talent mobility and hiring processes, analytics for DEI gives HR professionals the transparency, accuracy, and actionable insights needed to capitalise on differences and close gaps in the workplace.
A Bright Future
Far from displacing HR, tech and automation are proving to make the field even more robust with opportunity than ever before. The future is certainly bright for HR professionals hungry for new skills
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Clarissa Castillo is a writer and outreach specialist