The Future of Human Resources
The role of human resources (HR) in business has transformed over decades alongside technological advancement and changes in management thinking.
Activities that used to be processed with stacks of paperwork or automated using licensed software systems are now moving to more flexible cloud-based tools and applications. Some aspects of HR can be digitized to increase efficiency, but HR professionals are still essential to the success of any company.
The New HR
A shift in business perspectives and values has created the need for a new kind of HR. In fast-paced, dynamic industries driven by technology, companies have shifted away from hierarchal management. Instead, they have implemented team-centric structures that allow for greater flexibility and innovation. To best serve these shifts, HR must work to develop a strong internal network that enables engagement within and across teams. Instead of trying to automate talent practices, today’s HR initiatives should focus on cultivating employee engagement, innovation and collaboration.
53% of U.S. employees
are not engaged at work. Companies with highly engaged workforces grow earnings per share at a rate 4.3X greater than their competitors
Embrace HR Technology
The capabilities and priorities of HR technology are moving businesses away from traditional HR software to integrated talent tools based in the cloud. Popular options range from large vendors such as Oracle1 and SAP1 to platforms like Trinet1 that specialize in servicing small and mid-sized businesses. To make life at work better, companies want HR technology solutions that are engaging, useful and productivity-oriented. Certain administrative responsibilities – especially tasks that don’t play a significant role in company culture like payroll, benefits, scheduling, leave requests and timesheets – should be automated for efficiency.
54% of companies
are increasing their HR technology spend
Keep the ‘Human’ in Human Resources
Software and tools can help speed up processes, but they can’t replace certain human experiences that are integral in maintaining a well-functioning workforce. Technology companies and startups that are focused on speed, agility and bringing products to market should hold onto some of the ‘traditional’ functions of HR when streamlining their organizations.
- Acquiring and onboarding talent – Creating and fostering company culture begins with keeping a human element in recruitment and ramp-up. Businesses need HR staff to continuously grow a network of potential talent to tap into when there is a need.
- One-on-one conversations, especially about sensitive issues – With increased emphasis on diversity and safeguards in the workplace, having a dedicated HR professional to coach individuals and mitigate uncomfortable situations is crucial.
- Keeping employees engaged with feedback, recognition and development – Without people behind the strategy and execution of these processes, companies run the risk of employees feeling dissatisfied or underdeveloped.
Make HR a Strategic Partner
With less time spent on administrative tasks, HR professionals can take on a more strategic role in their organization. Their focus will shift to solving workforce challenges that add business value. Issues such as insufficient talent or high rates of turnover can take a toll on a company financially, making it integral for executives to include HR in strategic planning.
60% of CEOs
are rethinking their HR function
Business leaders who recognize their employees as their greatest asset should view HR professionals as workforce experts.
HR practices must be reevaluated and adapted to today’s tools and organizational structures, but should not be fully automated. Instead, HR needs to implement strategies and technologies that enable engagement across networks of teams and promote company culture, innovation and collaboration.
Gallup, “Employee Engagement on the Rise in the U.S.,” August 26, 2018
Gallup, “State of the American Workplace,” 2017
Josh Bersin, “HR Technology Market 2019: Disruption Ahead,” 2019
PwC, “The Talent Challenge: Harnessing the Power of Human Skills in the Machine Age,” 2017
1The discussion of specific companies in this document is not an endorsement of nor does it suggest an affiliation with these companies.