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HR Trends 2020

As we head into a world dominated by technology & social change, there is much that HR needs to be mindful of & here are the major trends:

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As we head into a world dominated by technology & social change, there is much that HR needs to be mindful of & here are the major trends:

AI: HR will go from tech-enabled to AI-enabled, the difference is significant in that the employee experience will be positively impacted since chatbots will provide a human-like interface which will balance between Tech & Touch.

AI will also disrupt certain roles by taking over algorithmic analytics and decision-making, this will provide speed, accuracy and will enhance HR delivery.

Adoption of such models will enable HR to demonstrate greater business relevance and accountability.

Analytics: Big data and analytics will become mainstream to HR much longer after they had an impact on SCM or Marketing.

HR Analytics and AI will work together to ensure greater predictive analytics, underpin key decisions like talent sourcing, talent quality, selection and workforce planning.

Businesses will demand greater rigour from HR and this will underpin HRs transition to data and analytics. This will also require HR professionals to be more numerate & statistically able. Successful HR teams will own this as a core competence and will not outsource this activity.

Workforce planning: Workforce mobility, changing social needs and a continually evolving employment contract between employee and employer, will continue to shift exponentially. HR will need to develop comfort with a mixed workforce comprising temps, part-timers and FTEs. People will want to choose where and when they work. And a select percentage will also choose what they want to do and what they won't. There will be lesser pressure on conforming and a greater need for choices.

New models of workforce planning will need to be developed taking into account these changing social needs as well as impact of tech. Where, when and how people work is going to be an evolving question which HR will need to answer for each of their businesses.

This will also challenge capability development, investing in skills, engagement of a distributed and dynamic workforce, compensation models and leadership of such a workforce. The business will look to HR for answers.

Organizational Design: VUCA, technology/digitalisation, globalization, dynamic workforces, rapidly changing role demands will all require a relook at organizational design. Many organizations have structures that are several years old and which have been repeatedly tweaked in a bid to play catch up.

Most organizations have gone for lean structures and cut staff to deal with demands for efficiency and bottomline salience. The question is, are these structures best suited to deal with a VUCA world? A worldwide survey reveals that no one has the right answer.

But this is the year when many organizations will begin to examine structures with a view to rewriting them from scratch. The key balance that will be needed is to design a structure that has the ability to manage business as usual at the operational levels. But also a structure that has the ability to spot and respond with agility to a dynamic scenario. My best estimate is that we will see the evolution of a hybrid structure with line reporting for BAU (business as usual) and a rapid shift to a dynamic reporting in WLS (War-Like Scenarios).

Reskilling: Technology is going to disrupt multiple jobs across industries. This has already begun but will escalate exponentially. It is imperative for us as an HR fraternity to drive industry-wide and nation-wide debates on proactively preparing for this eventuality, predicting the impact and beginning a reskilling program for those who will be affected so that they are ready for re-employment on time. Failing this, we will be faced with serious social issues, financial crises and risk to the livelihood and future of many families. Some industries will face this more than others.

Leadership for a digital and VUCA world: Dynamism of business scenarios is only set to increase. The world will be on an exponential VUCA which will challenge leaders’ competencies. As with organizational structures, so also with Leadership competencies, many firms have either tweaked or kept the same competency sets. Redefining leadership skills for the new digital world is going to be critical. HR will need to drive a redefinition of values and leadership competencies, in order to help the organization adjust to the change. This will create challenges because many incumbents will be found lacking as a new set of leadership skills will be assessed for, but HR must assertively lead the charge and define the leadership for the future. Past models will only lead to future failure.

Engagement: The engagement challenge will only get tougher. This is the first time the world will have 4 generations, multiple genders and races and differently abled employees in the workforce. Leaders, already stretched to capacity, will have to rapidly develop their leadership skills to manage across this diverse set.

HR will need to drive inclusive mindsets and leadership ability in order to enable this shift.

Personalization of HR: We will see greater mass-customization of employee experience. The story has already shifted from employment to experience. Today's employee is not grateful for employment but demands a certain level of employment experience. As the outer world offers greater customisation and choice-making, employees will expect the same from their employers. Work, benefits, role content, location flexibility etc. will all be designed for key individuals (in feudal/hierarchical cultures, this has always been the case!), we will see greater equalization.

Organizational culture: All of the above will demand changes in the way we think, work and lead. HR must be interventional and partner with the CEO and board to articulate and drive the culture change that will ensure relevance of focus, strategy and capability across the organization; this will require HR to have strong culture change skills and abilities.

Reskilling HR: HR's role has shifted from operational to strategic, from a provider of policy and process to an enabler of business success. As more and more business leaders realize this, their demands of the HR function are increasing. HR can longer complain about irrelevance; any irrelevance or absence "at the boardroom table" can only be attributed to self. HR needs to work on the following:

  1. HRBPs must show up as true partners. They have to make the shift from being support function to consultative solutions providers to business leaders. They have to have a pre-emptive sense of future capability and must partner with their leaders to proactively develop these for the business.
  2. Change agility. Whether it is changing workforce needs, mass-customisation of experience or organization design, business will look to HR to lead the charge and provide answers. As a result, HR professionals must demonstrate high levels of change agility and responsiveness coupled with strong conceptual thinking and consultative skills.
  3. Leading and driving change. HR teams will need to be adept at designing for change and leading businesses through significant change journeys.
  4. Business leaders leading HR. As business leaders recognize the important of the HR function, their impatience will compel them to deploy their high potential and execution oriented business leaders to lead the HR function. This has both pros and cons for the HR function, but it is already a reality I am seeing in 3 organizations I consult with.

All in all, these are exciting times for the HR function. Every challenge is an opportunity waiting to be harnessed for the potential it brings. Across the range of clients I engage with, HR teams are at differing levels of evolution and competence. HR professionals must partner across organizations more than ever before. Learning from others and rapid adoption are key. We must be egoless in order to be agile.

Lastly, I must thank all the individuals on Twitter and LinkedIn who responded to my "crowd-sourcing request", many of your thoughts are reflected here. You helped make this sharp!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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human resource HR Industry trends

Gurprriet Siingh

The author is the Senior leader with experience of leading HR/OD Teams and Leadership consulting firms in India.

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