· 2 min read · Features

Ten trends that will reshape the future of HR


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.