Re-thinking HR

We’re living in interesting times.  There’s no doubt about it.  Brexit, global politics, technological advances, changes in legislation, environmental issues are some of the hot topics frequently chewed over in the office and at home.

Many of these are impacting the world of work, but perhaps none so much as the developments in technology.

Artificial intelligence (AI) takes centre stage in most futurist musings and understandably so.  It’s a huge topic and one that is likely to have a profound impact on all areas of the economy. It is a commonly held belief, and quite probable, that AI will replace some jobs currently carried out by people. However it is also seen by some as the key to unlocking the stagnant UK productivity rate that has barely grown since the financial crisis in 2008.

What interesting things then, are happening in the world of AI that will impact on the workplace of the future?

Amazon, for example, has patented a wristband that tracks hand movements of warehouse workers and uses vibrations to nudge them to be more efficient. Humanyze uses algorithms that capture interaction, communication, and location information for employees; a ‘sociometric badge’. And AI programmes have been developed to help take the bias out of recruitment decisions.

So, does this mean a less human approach to work?

The spotlight has never shone so brightly on health & well-being – particularly mental health. We talk of bringing our whole selves to work. The focus on ‘good work’ and being healthy and happy in our jobs becomes more important as we work longer. It is estimated that those entering the workforce today, will be in their mid seventies to early eighties before being able to draw their state pension.

The growing interest in combining neuroscience and people management has led to designing systems and processes – crudely speaking – around how human’s tick. As HR professionals, we can learn a lot from anthropology; especially Yuval Noah Harari’s book, ‘Sapiens’.

Employee experience (EX), Employee Value Proposition (EVP) and Employee brand (‘Me Inc’) are becoming more popular as employees are viewed as consumers, having their own ‘personal equity’ and value. The employment relationship continues to evolve as the gig economy grows and power relationships become more important in an organisation rather than static positions within a hierarchy.

Managing the talent loop and actively anticipating future challenges are becoming increasingly significant.  The move towards talent clusters and an agile workforce for example, demands a very different approach to the psychological contract.

So, should we be concerned then about the advent of AI?

Although it is reported that 57% of jobs globally are vulnerable to automation and there are concerns over the rise of ‘digital Taylorism’, evidence suggests that the world of work, and in particular the people agenda, is becoming more and more human-centric.

Perhaps then, the workplace of the future is shaping up to be one that embraces cognitive collaboration; a partnership between humans and technology.

In any case, it’s clear that the world of work and the world of HR is evolving rapidly. The approaches and processes we have had in place for the last decade are going to become outdated pretty quickly. As organisations seek to embrace technology, now is also the time to revisit your own HR strategy and re-think the way HR can support the organisation and adapt in these interesting times.

If you’d like to know more about our HR services or have a conversation about the future of the workplace, get in touch:

Alex Dellot – Principal Consultant – or 07741 631 194