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Ten trends that will reshape the future of HR

Richard Coombes , 05 Feb 2014

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Tremendous forces are radically reshaping work as we know it.

Changing employee expectations, new technologies, increasing globalisation and a need for agility in the face of a turbulent business environment mean that tomorrow’s workplace will be barely recognisable from today. HR will need to respond accordingly.

Research by Accenture has identified 10 business trends that will radically reshape HR in the next five years:

1. The rise of the extended workforce. Companies will be increasingly composed of an ever-shifting, global network of contractors, business partners and outsourcing providers. As talent stretches beyond the confines of the company, HR teams may have to pay as much attention to people outside of the organisation as to those inside.

2. Managing individuals. Instead of managing a workforce with a one-size-fits-all approach, HR will treat each employee as a “workforce of one” with unique needs and preferences, and will customise employee incentives accordingly.

3. Technology advances radically disrupt HR. Technology will integrate talent management into the fabric of everyday business. HR IT will become a vital component of an organisation characterised by social media, cloud computing, mobility, and Big Data.

4. The global talent map loses its borders. With a mismatch between areas of supply and demand of jobs globally, companies will be composed of highly diverse workforces. HR will need to adopt new recruitment strategies to effectively match talent with task across the world.

5. HR drives the agile organisation. The world is becoming increasingly unpredictable and organisations that can adapt to changing business conditions will outperform the competition. HR will fundamentally reshape itself to enable new organisations designed around nimble and responsive talent.

6. Talent management meets the science of human behaviour. As new discoveries into brain science and human behaviour are emerging – and companies are using analytics to achieve improved results – HR will begin to arm itself with the tools and insights of a scientist to achieve better performances from their workforces.

7. Social media drives the democratisation of work. Social media is pervading the workplace and making it easier for employees to exchange information and ideas online. HR will need to play a vital role in helping build effective organisational cultures that support this, as well as incentives and processes for knowledge sharing, innovation and engagement.

8. HR must navigate risk and privacy in a more complex world. As the internet continues to break down information barriers, HR will adopt risk management strategies covering everything from protecting confidential information and data, to risks associated with weak hiring or turnover of talent.

9. HR expands its reach to deliver seamless employee experiences. HR will evolve from being a clearly defined, stand-alone function to one that collaborates closely with other parts of the business, such as IT, strategy and marketing, to deliver well-rounded HR and talent management processes.

10. Tapping skills anywhere, anytime. Skills gaps are widening and HR will be increasingly hard pressed to ensure their organisations have the right people. HR will need to develop initiatives to be able to quickly tap skills when and where they are needed.

These trends are happening now and will only get more real and impactful. A very different set of HR and talent management practices will be required, which are better suited to a highly volatile, global and knowledge-oriented age.

HR functions that recognise this and react will have an unprecedented opportunity to help organisations and people become leaders in the new world of work. For those companies that don’t heed the call, HR risks irrelevance.

Richard Coombes is the managing director in Accenture’s talent and organisation practice.

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Employee experiences

Klaas-Jan Reincke 05 Feb 2014

Thanks for this inspiring overview of important HR trends! Very much liked the term "employee experiences", which indicates that organisations will have to be doing so much more for employees than just provide "work". It is like understanding that you need to offer customers so much more than just "a product". Let´s bring on the Lean Canvas for HR models! @klaasjanreincke

Connected organisations

Simon Hayward 11 Feb 2014

I welcome the insight here and in particular the way leaders and HR working together can create increased agility and respond to the increasingly complex and digital world. The era of the connected organisation has arrived.

No.11 Global ageing workforce - "Your Sleeping Tiger"

Chris Minett 13 Feb 2014

For HR leaders not looking at and addressing the impact of their ageing workforce and employee family ageing issues (on employee engagement, retention and productivity), they are in the words of one client "ignoring the sleeping tiger". Our ageing society and ageing workforce is a massive long term trend that is only just starting to present some significant challenges for businesses in the UK and abroad. Ageing issues already impact businesses not just in the context of older workers, but also those in the Sandwich Generation (35-55yo), working carers and expats (or those living away from ageing parents). Not forgetting - these are all the most senior and expensive employees - aged 40+ - who are trying to juggle work and family ageing issues as well. With the CIPD forecast of 1 in 3 UK workers being aged 50yo+ within next 6 years (2020) and already 1 in 7 employees leaving work to perform care (Employers for Carers 2013) - the challenges are large and will grow significantly. And globally. For many years to come. Organisations will be ignoring No.11 trend at their peril! Beware the Sleeping Tiger!

It's time for HR to get strategic

Amanda Marko 25 Feb 2014

What about HR's role as a strategic partner responsible for creating a corporate culture that drives company performance? Hiring choices, policies, promotions, and benefits all contribute to the work environment and can motivate (or demoralize) employees. HR needs to think and behave strategically and consider the overall impact of each of its responsibilities.

From Human Resources to Human Responsibility

Gabriele Euchner 03 Mar 2014

There is another trend that definitely needs to reshape the understanding and future of HR managers: more and more people committing suicide. Suicide has become No 1 death cause in the developed world, overtaking getting killed by a heart attack (No 2) or in a car-accident (No 3). One of the top-reasons is because of losing the job. I am asking myself, what is the most important task and responsibility of HR in these termination meetings? Its not about writing settlement agreements! The question to be answered is how does HR help people while and after they got fired? HR tasks have become really important when it comes to terminating people. There is a missing link between values nicely described in brochures and on glossy websites and the reality in companies. Who can close this gap? It has become a nightmare what is happening in too many companies. HR has to take the power to support managers when to terminate with respect, acknowledgement and real care. It would also positively impact the companies Employer Branding as well as direct and indirect cost effects. HR has to get more engaged and take over responsibility for people's well-being in a company, not only in good times but also in bad times. HR should broaden their understanding of their tasks and performance criteria. Its deadly important to perform a new approach towards Human Responsibility in companies, in my opinion the best definition of the letters "HR".

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