The current business world is undergoing major transformation as a result of several factors related to the globalization of the economy, increased scrutiny by regulatory authorities and the critical role being played by talented workforce. All these are having a huge impact on the human resource profession. HR has transformed immensely over the past decades from doing functions that are mainly maintenance to position itself as a strategic department paying a key role in promoting an organization’s competitive advantage. Management has started to realize the critical role the HR department plays when it comes to the success of an organization. The changing role of HR in the current global and technology driven would means requires management to invest significant time and resources to learn the changing and future role of the HR department. To be at a competitive advantage, human resource departments should consciously update themselves with the transformation in the HR and be aware of the HR issues coming up. Organizations are facing huge shortages of skilled workforce as a result of poaching from competitors and high attrition rate and sound policies will be needed to curb this trend. There are several trends that will have a great impact on HR in the coming decades. These changes include managing talent, increase in outsourcing, technological accelerations and changing workplace demographics. Awareness of these trends will help HR position and adjust itself to any potential changes in the work environment.
The first key trend of the future will witness the HR playing a bigger role in strategic planning. With the changing landscape of HR, strategic planning will increasingly become necessary for the needs to be achieved and hence ensure success. Strategic planning can only be done when the HR understands the needs of customers and how competition will affect their operations. Understanding these will help the HR departments to formulate clear and shared visions that will help steer the organizations in the right direction. Thus, organizations will invest more resources in key and strategic measures with the aim of creating and sustaining long term performance. However, in their quest to strategically position the organizations, they should be aware of factors that may hamper effective strategic planning by HR and these include departments and workforce that are resistant to change, failure to implement the changes that have been put in place, the wounds of past strategic planning failures and failure to foresee the impact that the changes will bring to people, processes and the organizational structure (Human Resources degree Online, 2011).
Secondly, future HR will play a key role in accelerating and adopting technology to its functions. Technology has permeated almost every sector of human life and organizations cannot be left behind. Technology is changing the way organizations carry out their functions. The proliferation of social networks like face book and Twitter have led to much organization to reconsider the way they carry out their functions, especially those related to marketing. Organizations will increasingly rely on using smart phones and portable computers like IPad to communicate across traditional access information in an instant. Thus smart thinking HR personnel will leverage on these mobile technologies to their advantage. According to a report by the HR MANAGEMENT (2011), information technologies have also made it easy for many people to work away from their offices without any reference to specific working hours or place. It is therefore allowing flexibility in terms of scheduling work tasks by management. Human resources will also need to appreciate the significant role information technology in the organization. Of critical importance will be how to deal with a young, ambitious and tech savvy workforce by ensuring that they don’t filter information that is critical to the organization. On the other hand, the HR will be tasked with ensuring that the more experienced but less tech savvy workforce adapt new technologies to remain relevant. Thus, “lifelong learning” will become a key component of many organizations, especially when it comes to tasks that require technological prowess. As much as IT will become a key component, of HR, it is important that there is a balance between productivity and value (Sharyln, 2010). Organizations should embrace only those social media and strategies that would increase value, the cost of the technology notwithstanding.
Managing Talent is another critical role which will require HR to invest considerable resources. Many organizations have come to appreciate the importance of developing workforce as far success is concerned. The HR will be tasked with managing talent by developing leadership capabilities of the staff to take up more critical roles and also to ensure there is seamless succession. Future HR will have to realize that leaders are not just developed through courses but through the actions that management does. Leadership has been noted to be one of the scarcest abilities not only in the current work environment, but also in the foreseeable future. As organizational functions continue getting more complex and dynamic, developing the competency of key staff will be critical. Many high performance employees are seeking better career opportunities as a result of being disengaged in their current jobs. Data from surveys done in 2010 by the Corporate Executive Board which found out that 25% of staff plans to leave their current employers in a year’s time, a much higher figure as compared to only 10% four years ago (HR MANAGENT, 2011). Companies will therefore need to review the programmes put in place to manage talent to ensure that the best employees are developed and retained, especially during this period of economic recovery.
Additionally, HR will have to align their functions to suit the changing demographics of the work place. Changing demographics at the workplace will definitely change the way HR performs its functions. A country like the United States with a tradition of immigration, has in the recent past witnessed a workplace shift from the traditional white-male dominated to the current one which is a multi-cultural encompassing many races. These changes are being witnessed at all levels from the bottom to the top. Besides, the future is going to witness more women breaking the glass ceiling to rise to more senior management positions. Besides gender and race, age is also going to play a critical role in organizational planning with many younger workers getting opportunities to lead. Many HR managers will be faced with the challenges of dealing with changes in the workplace in future, especially with regards to whether there will be good leaders to replace the retiring ones and whether the young ones will require more training in institutional knowledge.
Finally, organizations in future are more likely to outsource some of their general functions in order to concentrate on more strategic functions of the organization (Sharlyn, 2010). Some of the functions that maybe outsourced include payroll processing, headhunting of new employees and employee information changes. Instead the HR will focus on value addition functions like succession planning, managing talent, developing leadership and driving change. Reducing costs and improving service delivery is going to be a key factor in future and outsourcing has been proved to be one strategy of achieving this. Through outsourcing of some the HR functions, the organization benefits because it takes advantage of economies of scale, leads to automation and improvement of processes, hence making optimal use of available resources.
The ever changing nature of organizations calls for these organizations to strategically position their functions in order to survive in a global competitive environment. HR departments will particularly need to align their functions to ensure that they are relevant and add value. Technology has become a key tool in organizations today and future HR departments need to be prepared to make use of it on a large scale. Coupled with managing an increasingly talented, multicultural and young workforce, efficiency can only be achieved through aligning the strategic goals of the organization to meet these challenges.
HR Management (2011). The Future of HR – How to Achieve the 2020 Workplace Today.
Retrieved from, http://www.hrmreport.com/article/The-Future-of-HR--How-to-Achieve-the-2020-Workplace-Today/
Human Resources Degree Online (2011). HR Trends in 2011, 3, December 2010. Retrieved
Sharlyn, L (2010). The Future of Human Resources and Social Media. Retrieved from