HR in the digital age – future HR

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Within a recent Deutsche Telekom HR bootcamp panel #hrtechtelekom I had the chance to discuss Future HR & HR Tech, some of these and other questions (with answers similar but not 1:1 as out if recollection):

Will the impact / importance of HR increase or decrease in the near future?

The HR mission lies in supporting people and organisations to develop and change – explicitly to prepare for and navigate through the digital transformation. Creating digital workplace experience as well as enabling digital capabilities of the workforce.
This is per se a challenging thing. On top and in parallel to that, HR needs to rethink and redo its own „house“: roles, service portfolio and tools. We need to let go of things we got used to and search for new ways. 

To manage the transition and transformation that lies in front of us I believe it will be more of a different HR.

Let’s see this as an opportunity: being open-minded and getting actively involved navigating through the changes we will find ourselves back in a jointly created future. Of course that will be in different roles and constellations.

Will HR as a dedicated function still exist in 10 years?

We are in the present and in my eyes it starts today by shaping the future. So as HR lets be part of designing what’s next.

We can strongly assume that things will not be the same, meaning the jobs we have today won’t be the ones that we have tomorrow. 

But, if would know it all already today we would be „prophets“. Same as for the business also for HR VUCA has implications that from today’s perspective we might not fully grasp. According to press, consultants and futurologist we are in the middle of a (digital) revolutionThe „people“ dimension will increase in importance, but the players are shifting.

Digitalization is freeing up from administrative tasks – everything that can be automated will be – leaders and employees are taking on some of them via digital access. Through self services and automised, standardised processes on the one as well as increasing self-responsibility and -organisation on the other HR work the way we know it will get „deslaged“ and give the opportunity for new things. These we need to grasp. Upcoming shifts entail chances for HR (or whatever we will call it in the future) to focus on partnering for change and new ways of working.

For sure it will put human relations much more at the forefront or in the center of things. HR will need to shift our view and approach from process orientation  („having functions“) to customer orientation („having customers“). Creating a great and worthwhile employee experience.

Which challenges do you see and what is key to cope?

The game is changing, so says Deloitte. Or according to latest BCG research Twelve Forces That Will Radically Change How Organizations Work we are „facing a tidal wave of change„.

In general in a changing world we need to expect the unexpected – having a certain mindset helps: Being curious and courageous. Becoming part of the change instead of being changed. Being open for new roles and perspectives – and keeping on learning and evolving.

According to How automation will alter the job landscape at the heart of required skill sets is one prerequisite, learnability. To go along with the changes, continuously learn and evolve the skill set remains key and is an imperative, according to above article:

Employers are anticipating change. Three out of four business leaders believe automation will require new skills over the next couple of years. We cannot slow the rate of technological advance, but employers can invest in their employees’ skills so people and organizations can remain relevant.

And start, step by step. Start moving, don’t wait. It’s a journey.

Which technologies and trends will impact our HR work most?

If you follow publications ones of the hottest topics is recruitment, talent acquisition and candidate experience. It seems as if everyone is only hiring? Getting the „right“ talents on board is of course very relevant and a lot is changing due to automation and AI. So for sure this is an area of impact.

I would like to raise focus on the ones currently in the company, the workforce. Acc to Deloitte recent study Global Human Capital Trends 2017 one of the top HR topics is creating a holistic digital workplace experience – as well as enabling digital capabilities of the workforce:

Digital HR: platforms, people, and work -> going beyond digitizing HR platforms to developing digital workplaces and workforces.

And, already today in the field of shared (transactional) services technology plays a massive role. Read in Deloitte’s Can robots replace HR?:

The future is fast approaching, and a new era of digital innovation and disruption is here. Or, more accurately, according to Josh Bersin, “The future of work is already here.

So yes, the robots are coming. These robots aren’t physical machines; they’re software “bots” installed on desktop computers or in the cloud that can be configured to automate increasingly complex tasks, such as moving, manipulating, and validating data.


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