The pandemic has changed the way we travel, socialize, entertain, shop, and of course –work. Organizations are trying to seek answers for how workplaces will look in the future and what roles will HRs play in it? No matter how it plays out, there is no doubt that the role of HRs has changed drastically and will continue to do so in the future. Also, the physical office will never be the same as it was before 2020. The post-pandemic period has been witnessing the evolution of technologies that helped organizations thrive amidst constant disruptions and the rapid development of HR software applications that facilitated remote work.
Most leading research and recent surveys point towards a hybrid approach of work (continuity of remote+return to the office). HR leaders are now creating a culture that puts humans at the center of everything. As an organization or HR leader, you might ask yourself–Whether you have adopted modern technology and shifted to more adaptive work models using HR software solutions? Whether your HR department is headed towards being a strategic champion or not? Or is your HR team prepared for the future of work?
This article discusses the possible scenarios of change for the Human Resource departments and the organization’s preparedness to cope with the disruptive factors that will shape the future of the work.
Rethinking Future of Work from the HR Perspective
HR functions are substantially evolving every day. Around 94% of HR leaders forecast that HR functions will witness continued changes over the next few years. HR leaders have a lot on their plate. They need to predict the skill sets required for future talent, sustain the current workforce, channelize their processes towards modern technologies and align employee-employer goals. There are certain areas where HR practices, policies, and workflows have already started showing drastic changes.
Let us rethink the future of work from the HR perspective:
Employee Well-being Will Be the Priority
Post-pandemic HR policies have put employee well-being and health at the center stage. HRs are persuading their organizations to invest in company-sponsored health insurance policies. Regular counseling sessions and programs that foster employee positivity have become a norm now. HRs are pushing workplace flexibility to the next level, encouraging employees to install meditation and Yoga apps, and funding collaboration with companies that specialize in employee wellness. Forbes article points out, the future of work is–employee’s well-being. (social, physical, mental, and financial). HRs should brace themselves for the future of work.
Drastic Changes in Work Models
Organizations that were forced to adopt the remote work model are now offering it as a perk. Work from office and work from home, both options are available considering individual needs, team requirements, and organizational goals. Remote work, though not possible for all employees, health-vulnerable ones can avail it on a priority basis. HRs are ensuring that the new type of flexibility is commanded by purposefulness. HRs are focusing on providing a broad continuum of work options for employees–flexible, freelance, contractual, etc. The key challenges that lie ahead before HRs are upskilling employees for the future of the work and moving away from outdated work models to more adaptive ones.
Economic growth and easy access to technology allowed companies to deploy automation in all their processes. The level and efficiency of automated services and tasks are increasing day by day. The future HR processes and offerings will be highly automated, and key workflows and HR solutions will be delivered without human involvement. Repetitive tasks and complex tasks will be completely automated using AI, VR, and ML capabilities of HR software solutions. HR’s role and focus will shift to employee well-being and efforts for a thriving relationship between the employee and the organization. In short, HR’s role will be more strategic.
With remote work technology and recruiting software applications, HRs are empowered to diversify their workforce like never before. A more comprehensive inclusion is enabled with HRs opening doors for people who are highly skilled yet are not able to work in a physical office setup due to personal responsibility, geographical restrictions, disabilities, and other health conditions. The future of work allows HRs to access the labor market with a global vision.
Training and Development
HRs need to find modern tools for training employees, especially when employees are not located at remote places. HR departments have already started investing in learning management systems and machine learning for providing personalized training opportunities for remote employees. Augmented reality is gaining traction for hazard-free training environments, particularly in the manufacturing industry. As technological exuberance and competencies are becoming a priority for the business world and a prerequisite for getting jobs, it will be interesting to see how HRs develop strategies for continuous training and development of new and existing employees.
Changing Relationship between Employer and Employee
The futuristic models of the employer-employee relationship suggest more of a partnership approach between the employer and the employees. The employer has to become a facilitator for the personal career growth of the employee, and in return, the employee becomes a catalyst for the achievement of the business goals of the employer. In this scenario, HR will have to create venues for healthy work-life balance, career development programs, and an environment for longer relationships between the employees and the employers.
Use of Artificial Intelligence
From robots in car factories to self-driving cars, every major disruption is led by AI. In 2016 only, it was hard to believe that Foxconn, the largest manufacturer of electronics, actually replaced 60000 employees with Foxbots. Today, mega warehouses, shipping logistics, construction, etc., are using AI-enabled robotics for their businesses. Technological advancements in artificial intelligence have mesmerized the business world like anything. In the HR world, the most fruitful usages of AI lie in making informed decisions, identifying working patterns for devising employee-friendly policies, screening processes, predicting future performances of employees, and freeing up HR from mundane tasks.
However, a few of the major challenges in envisioning the future of work is how HR leaders will use artificial intelligence? How will they develop an AI usage and ethics strategy? How will HRs balance workplace creativity amidst the AI-led innovations? HR departments with futuristic visions should be prepared for such challenges.
Data Security and Privacy
Considering the remote work scenarios, data security and privacy is a major concern for both employees and the organizations. HRs are trying their best to make employees aware of the security risks at endpoint devices. From organizing cybersecurity workshops to sending regular emails reminding employees to backup and patch their systems, HRs are playing a crucial role in maintaining organizational data security. With cybercriminals finding new tools and sophisticated ways to attack organizational networks, the intensity of cyberattacks is going to increase only. In the future, HRs will have to adopt new technologies, more sophisticated software tools, and mechanisms to sensitize their employees about cybersecurity practices.
Analytics to Power HR Practices
The world of business is getting data-driven. Modern organizations use data-driven analytics to make strategic decisions. HRs are now using employee analytics to understand the employee-related metrics and KPIs to make policy decisions. HRs of tomorrow need to adopt analytics to make their organizations stay ahead of their competitors. The futuristic HRs will rely more on people analytics, workforce analytics, and functional analytics for HR for improving retention rates, employee engagement, business growth rates, and revenue per employee.
An understanding of the complexities, uncertainties, and possible implications of the disruptive forces that may shape the future of the work is critical for human resources to remain relevant. Responding to the challenges, risks, and opportunities of the upcoming HR landscape needs digital transformation at the root level. Organizations have to identify key imperatives, strategic options, and the right technologies that will help their HRs navigate the future of the work. Adopting modern HR tools for bolstering digital capabilities should be the priority of futuristic human resource departments.