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Five 2019 trends that are redefining HR’s role

In an exclusive analysis for Human Resources, New York-based Stela Lupushor, Founder and Chief Re-framer of Reframe.Work Inc., identifies five ways in which HR has the opportunity to shape the business future.

Trend 1: Upskilling

Over the past decade in pursuit of satisfying shareholders in a lackluster economy, companies focused on cost reductions, which would typically include a workforce reduction under the guise of skills obsolescence. With the turn to global growth and with fewer digitally-savvy candidates in the market, companies now have to rethink their workforce and hiring strategies and instead invest in upskilling their workforce.

HR has an opportunity to shape these strategies. Ramping up can take multiple forms such as partnerships with educational institutions and public sector or with startups, forming coalitions with other organisations, lessening the credentials requirements or a combination of all.

ALSO READ: 96% of employees in Malaysia say upskilling is their own responsibility

Most of these efforts will still be about investing in technical skills. Opportunities will lie in supplementing those with soft skills such as design thinking, accessibility, communications, collaboration, and foundational skills.

Upskilling is not only good for the business, but it's also a responsible way to uplift communities and have a positive impact on your brand, which in turn will attract more high-quality talent. Win-win for everyone!

Trend 2: Workplace experience

Companies will continue to find it difficult to attract candidates who match job descriptions, especially if those descriptions require “unicorns."

The opportunity is arising for hiring managers and HR to distill the work to its essence and reconfigure what needs to gets done by whom and how (transitioning from “jobs” to “work”). This can bring much-needed flexibility in choices of talent such as part-time, contingents, stay at home moms with only 2-3 hours available, disabled individuals.

The practices of designing around the customer experience (CX) will start being adapted for the workplace experience (WX) to minimise the hassle points for workers.

It also demands new practices in designing and orchestrating how the work gets done, measured, rewarded, etc. The field of HR is facing a major disruption requiring adaptation of its traditional processes and norms to an agile, fluid, and distributed work environment. The practices of designing around the customer experience (CX) will start being adapted for the workplace experience (WX) to minimise the hassle points for workers and maximise everyone’s value creation.

Time to take a page or two from the world of marketing?

Trend 3: Human-centered integration of physical and digital

Everyone is going (or doing) digital. Even in traditional stores you will start seeing "digital shelves". Digital technologies are changing how work gets done and necessitating a different skill mix and strategies to either attract or develop those skills (see above Upskilling).

The critical component in this transformation is the mindset change. “Digital strategy” as not a mere new name for automating your processes and offerings, but rather a chance to completely re-imagine them. There is tremendous opportunity to re-think the product design and development. Those digital shelves are still in a physical location which also happens to be the workspace for many. Designing that workplace around the human experience (both workers and consumers) is where the innovation will come from.

ALSO READ: IR 4.0: How HR can help define the new reality at work

Oftentimes many technologies and experiences are not inclusive (not designed with input from and consideration of the impact they will have on different segments of the population, especially the aging). There is tremendous opportunity to use digital technologies to create more accessible environments (both physical and digital).

This can impact the offerings’ reach and create a great sense of pride amongst the employees who are marginally involved in such work — leading to better engagement, retention, and business results.

The only question to HR is - will you take the lead in this transformation?

Trend 4: Gender parity

Regardless of the progress we’ve made thus far, unfortunately, women still don’t get their fair share. Global gender parity is still over 200 years away. Analysis of 2017 Gender data from Visier’s Insight found that the gender pay gap widened in 2017 rather than becoming smaller. In 2016, women made 81 cents to the dollar, but in 2017 women made 78 cents to the dollar – that’s 22% less than men.

Amplified by the #metoo movement and increased attention to diversity and inclusion, there is no bigger urgency for HR to take a stand than now.

Organisations have a long way to go to close the gap and amplified by the #metoo movement and increased attention to diversity and inclusion, there is no bigger urgency for HR to take a stand than now. #closethepaygap

Trend 5: Social activism

In light of eroding trust in political systems and faith-based systems, the individuals are turning to corporations to become the voice of reason in addressing big systemic issues. Such expectations can either be bad news or good news for companies, and will definitely be an opportunity for everyone to start paying attention to issues beyond just satisfying shareholders’ demands.

All generations and especially younger entrants into the workforce, will demand organisations to put more focus on sustainability, transparency, equality, and ethical business practices. There is a broader set of stakeholders that need to be considered, including the workers, the underserved communities and underprivileged segments, the environment.

Tying your organisational mission to a bigger purpose and impact will not only create goodwill with your workforce, but new opportunities, offerings and distribution channels for the business. For HR the notion of employee and labor relations is now moving to a whole new level.

In the modern workplace impacted by many disruptions - political instability, global trade wars, volatility of financial markets, cyber-threats, inequality and polarisation - it is time for human resources to bring more "human" into the picture.

Photo / 123RF

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