Josh Bersin on the trends that will disrupt HR

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Josh Bersin, principal and founder of Bersin by Deloitte, speaks to HR magazine

While technology should make life better in the long term it could be making it worse in the short term, Josh Bersin, principal and founder of Bersin by Deloitte, told HR magazine at HR Tech Europe in Paris.

Bersin cited wearable tech as an example. “We can have them do things such as monitoring your location and who you are spending time with. HR is going to get access to all this data, which will hopefully eventually make everyone’s lives a little better, but for now is making everyone’s lives a little worse,” he said.

Bersin said that attitudes to sharing data are changing. “In a survey people were asked how comfortable they were with sharing their data with their employer,” he said. “As long as the organisation had a good policy in place two out of three were happy with it.”

He also suggested that there are other technology trends destined to shake up the HR function. “We’re seeing evolution in employee engagement software,” he said. “Companies who used to give out employee engagement surveys are now turning to the big survey vendors. But one area still messed up is payroll. No global payroll can handle every country under one system, so you have to stitch together a variety of tools. I don’t know if that could ever change.”

Robin Erickson, vice president of talent acquisition, engagement and retention research at Bersin by Deloitte, added that payroll is an under-utilised resource when it comes to analytics. “One interesting thing is that payroll data is the cleanest data in your business,” she said. “If you want data that’s real, payroll could be a place to start.”

Certain roles within the HR function are also evolving, according to Bersin. “Another thing to consider is the role of the chief human resources officer (CHRO),” he said. “They are under a huge amount of pressure to simplify and transform the HR function and implement analytics. Two-fifths (40%) of new CHROs are coming from HR roles; they are business people and innovators.”

Bersin also highlighted that technology does not always drive better performance. “We’re producing less GDP per employee now than before the invention of the smartphone,” he pointed out, adding: “Productivity is one of the big questions for HR. Their workforce needs to be happier, more productive, and they need to reduce the number of middle managers. If they can do that they are superstars.”