Exploring the future of HR


December 8th, 2015

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crystal ball shutterstock_132890264Earlier this week, over eggs and bacon, I enjoyed a lively discussion on the future of HR with HR magazine Publisher (and Roffey Park Trustee) Sian Harrington and Editor Katie Jacobs.

We considered the future of business and how this ‘macro’ environment will affect the ‘micro’ – the HR function.

Predicted economic trends are likely to lead to an hour-glass shaped labour market:

  • The top a highly skilled and highly sought after workforce, very much an employees market, with workers lured by good work-life balances, progressive work environments and autonomy
  • The middle ‘funnel’ is the reduced, and in some industries disappearing, traditional white-collar jobs, including financial and legal roles, squeezed out by digital technology and advances in artificial intelligence
  • And at the bottom of the hour-glass, the low-skilled who will face ferocious competition for jobs with young starters competing with older workers staying in employment longer to supplement inadequate pensions, zero hours contracts, low pay and high job insecurity the norm – very much an employers market.

But how will HR professionals engage with these two workforces simultaneously? Will an enterprise really be able to attract and retain Generation Y talent for the top of the hourglass, given their concerns for matters like organisational justice, while treating those at the bottom of the hourglass with indifference and simply as ‘resources’? As Katie said, HR has an opportunity greater than ever before to create sustainable value through people. But this won’t be achieved where practitioners persists in viewing humans as company ‘resources’, and holding a predominantly individual focus on people and the business, rather than viewing the business system as a whole. An HR function seeking to ‘control’ and negate all risk will not succeed in tomorrow’s business environment where agility and fluidity will be key

Both HR magazine (editorially) and Roffey Park (via research and developing our HR programme offering) are addressing these questions and challenges. Look for the new Roffey Park HR programme launching in 2016.