What would your HR department look like if you went back in time 30 years?
For starters, you’d probably be buried under a pile of documents, trying desperately to remember where you’ve put that particular document about a new hire, or the records for that employee who left 4 months ago (let alone 4 years ago!). Fast forward to the end of 2016 and we’re very much on the cusp of an HR revolution, and going paperless is just the beginning.
So what will the HR revolution look like then? Well, that’s still being defined, but one thing is clear, it’s happening with the help of tech startups. The enterprise HR systems we relied on in the past decade, or even the past couple of years, already have the look and feel of relics from a bygone era. This provides an incredible opportunity for disruptive products and platforms to shake things up! We need only look to the market for validation of this trend, with global investors staking over $2.6 billion in HR related startup tech last year alone (the CAGR is upwards of 10%+ YoY by the way!). The HR tech space is now moving at an exciting and dramatic pace – a speed normally associated with consumer social technologies.
We speak from experience, because innovation in the HR sector is at the heart of our business. And so, we’ve identified a number of key areas of disruptive innovation which will only increase in importance within the HR landscape.
But before we fast forward, let’s take a brief trip down memory lane! –
Traditionally, HR has been largely administrative in nature; processing payroll, onboarding new hires, managing benefits schemes, and ensuring there was an adequate amount of talent is in processing and within a promotional programme. HR process flows were binary, linear and often siloed and the corresponding technology landscape reflected and in part supported this.
Today, things are different, but are they different enough?
There has been a definite shift in responsibility within the HR department, with HR managers playing a more strategic role in maintaining organisational competitiveness. HR managers have become consultant directors that work to deliver strategic solutions, while also supporting business transformation. They also ensure that employees are being deployed in a way that aligns with organisational goals, that they are equipped with the skills they need to adapt to change and also, that they are motivated enough to feel integrated within leadership programmes.
While HR is adding real value in many organisations, there are certain HR functions that are just not providing enough effective support and management of information. It’s vital for HR’s future to continue providing efficient and future-forward support to the business, focusing on guiding the change needed to ensure that the company remains sustainable and competitive.
In order to accomplish this, HR must evolve continuously and a component of this is the moving away from being a “talent agenda” to an “organisational capability agenda”, where it is possible to collect and implement innovation, culture change and collaboration. HR must react far more quickly in order to respond and capitalise on the accelerated innovation occurring in the Personnel space. This in itself will likely only continue to increase in speed with Gen Z (and beyond!) and fluid relationships with employment
Even the term HR feels a little like an old hat these days, again, too siloed. The term ‘People’ feels a much appropriate; a generic term which succinctly encompasses a holistic human agenda.
Speaking of the future, Josh Bersin of Deloitte devotes much of his critical thinking to addressing areas of innovation in the HR / People space. Recently Josh investigated some of the core technological and attitudinal trends that will help HR complete this transformation into an evolved ‘People’ orientated function
Here there are some of the trends he recognises:
A Revolution of Performance Management
The Enterprise creating a fluid and agile approach built around shared goals and cross-departmental employee and manager feedback. In a real-time, transparent and a fully digital method
A Real-Time Engagement Evaluation
Always on employee engagement and evaluation – something at Beem, we care about wholeheartedly. Weekly attitude, value and temperature valuations in non-invasive methods; that make employees feel more willing to share what’s on their mind and create a two-way empiric enterprise <> employee relationship
An Explosion of Growth in People Analytics
Further disruption to the modelling of people performance data to better plan and eventually pre-empt a company’s financial, marketing, sales requirements and objectives, therein create functional predictive models. Emerging innovation will be equally applied to absences, performance, retention, leadership capabilities etc
A Continuous Evolution of the Learning Market
Employers will continue to be keen on creating an effective learning experience that enables them to attract the best candidates. Micro, peer to peer and a swathe of strong movements in this space will ensure that upskilling and skill building become quicker, simpler and far more effective
A New Landscape for Talent Acquisition
Linkedin and Glassdoor continue to be pivotal in recruitment access and transparency. AI and innovative startups being folded into established recruitment and candidate tracking software appears likely, with end to end benefits for the employer and employee expected
The biggest shift to date to the entire notion of employability. The gig economy looks to further find business ubiquity. With numerous startups offering flexible working environments and large enterprise slowly creaking into response. The near future looks to hold greater management, process and protocol. Less wild west and more opportunity to further arm locally agile workers with mobile workday platforms. [ Ahem! 😉 ]
Wellness will find itself baked into the entire people agenda, As enterprises vie for talent; wellness provides a socially good area of interest to prospective employees and improving employment brand position and helping companies to attract high performing workers; this area will continue to cyclically innovate for the benefit of all parties
Some of the most transactional areas of people and HR management will become less of a time drain and utilitarian actions will become wholly or partly automated, helped by AI, natural language processing and robotic process automation.
One of the areas that we at Beem believe to be one of the biggest areas of positive impact for the enterprise. With employee attention being increasingly focussed on smartphones – Organisations are increasingly overlooking the ability to provide effortless mobile productivity solutions. Very soon employees will demand workplace technologies that are in line and often surpass the experiences we have in the consumer world
What’s clear here is that HR will have to evolve from being a clearly defined function to one that constantly collaborates with all other parts of the business, such as marketing, strategy and IT. With new technologies changing employee expectations and the need for agility in the face of a evolving business environment, tomorrow’s workplace will look very different from what it is today, and HR should be ready to respond accordingly.
There is much to proud of in 30 years of achievement within the HR profession: from a back office and administrative function, it has become a proactive function that adds real value to the organisation.
Where do you feel HR still needs to evolve? Let us know in the comments!