Agents of Change

In the future, HR will have to be more proactive and serve as a change agent for the company. As people are changed by the world, they bring social shifts and other dynamics into the workplace. The workforces of the future will be even more diverse than today, with differing work styles, geographically dispersed teams, nonhierarchical organizations, and generations ranging from baby boomers to Generation Z. HR teams will confront the challenges and harness the opportunities that diversity brings to their companies. They will also be expected to empower workers from all backgrounds with work tools that feature the same ease of use and feature-rich functionality that they enjoy in their personal lives. And HR will need to deliver work tools that facilitate communication between workers and allow them to share data and insights, especially as work teams become more fluid.

HR will be responsible for understanding these changes, predicting new needs, and making the necessary adaptations to avoid potential problems for the organization. The future will bring a greater desire for remote work and flexible work schedules, professional development and career planning, more-collaborative problem-solving among workers, and a larger role in nearly every worker’s life for big data, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.

HR must also work to become more agile and focused in the future, concentrating on what it can do to bring the most value to the business. Because business demands are never-ending but resources are finite, CHROs must decide where their organizations require best-in-class HR services—such as in establishing company culture, attracting and retaining talent, or compliance—and where efficient HR services will suffice. HR agility will help balance leader experience (which tends to be focused on business results) with employee experience (which typically focuses on individual satisfaction and sense of purpose). To help drive efficiency across the entire organization, HR will need to adopt HCM systems that connect seamlessly with ERP systems, allowing for collaboration with other company stakeholders to solve complex business problems.