Working at Facebook is not just a job. It is an employee experience. Throughout the facility are informal spaces for colleagues to meet and discuss their projects. Fitness centers, green space outside, and an amazing array of lounges, eateries, and such are scattered all over. Performance evaluations are based upon project completion, not hours spent at one’s desk, or start and end-times. Teams collaborate both within the building and remotely; flexibility and creativity are honored.
This is the work environment we are now adjusting to. And HR professionals will be adjusting too – in the way they recruit, employ, train, and engage employees. Employees will be treated more like consumers, and digital means of performing HR functions will disrupt the entire sector. Here are 7 ways in which HR will be changing in the next several years.
- Agility in Recruitment and Training
When the e-commerce retailer, Zulilly, decides to add employees to certain departments, it asks applicants to submit an Instagram post – one that they feel best represents who they are and how they would add value to that department. More and more, video resumes are becoming common – recruiters and employment managers can “see” so much more through a video than a wall of text.
Traditionally, HR specialists in training and development provided that training themselves – through workshops, aided by overhead projectors and other visuals. Today, large corporations have specialists who develop training software.
Smaller companies use software developed by these larger enterprises or select from a growing amount of market software for their training and development purposes. Employees are thus exposed to experts in specific areas and complete their training on a personal and individual level.
- Workspace That Provides an Experience and Fosters Company Culture
More HR professionals are now involved in the “real estate” aspect of companies – planning out the workspace environment that honors employees’ needs and comforts not just the company’s need for efficiency and frugality. Many companies now have heads of employee experience to foster an improved physical environment but also to provide the resources that allow them to be more productive and to learn.
A recent study of future workforce trends polled HR professionals from a variety of job sectors. 83% stated that employee experience was a high priority and that they were spending more on personalized and flexible training.
Mercer, a global HR consulting firm, has also predicted that there will be far more competition for talent in the near future. Anything employers can do to provide a more employee-friendly environment and to present a culture that honors and appreciates its employees will be more able to recruit and keep valuable talent.
- Creating Flexibility in Where and When Work Occurs
HR managers have traditionally been tasked with crafting employee manuals with all sorts of rules of the workplace – workday hours, dress codes, lunch hours, etc. As we move into a more “consumer-driven” model of employment, these manuals are flying out windows, giving way to personalized employee-focused needs, some of which are as follows:
- Need for open-space and lots of collegiality vs. need for a quieter, more isolated workspace
- Where and how to “re-charge”
- Individual times of greatest productivity
- Options to work remotely, at least occasionally
- Accommodations for family responsibilities
- Project-based rather than time-based performance goals
- Employee input into training/development/continuing education needs with time to study and achieve those master grades and the rewards that accompany them
What all of this means is a personalized approach to the workforce, and it will be on every HR professional’s agenda.
- Artificial Intelligence Will Become an HR Tool
AI is already disrupting other sectors of corporations, and HR will be no exception. Using chatbots to come up with interview questions, to schedule meetings, to schedule vacations, to answer employee questions about company policies are all immediate uses of AI. More will certainly come as the technology expands and evolves.
- Managing Blended Workforces
Workforces are no longer just full-time, on-site employees. There are part-time, remote, and “gig” freelancers who complement the traditional workforce and who must operate in collegial relationships with those traditional employees. Managing the HR functions of such a diverse group calls for new solutions – in technology, in training, and in on-boarding.
Technology will allow additional “robotic” employees’ resume keyword search, on-site and remote employees and contractors to communicate, collaborate, and complete projects efficiently.
Use of online training and development will allow remote workers the same opportunities as on-site employees.
On-boarding will need to occur through digital means as well, through the use of communications tools and AI.
- Planning for Career Mobility
One of the characteristics of millennials in the workforce is that they are not as “wedded” to their specific skillset as their predecessors were. They are open to, and, in fact, embrace opportunities to develop themselves in entirely different career sectors. Thus, the IT specialist may develop an interest in logistics; the logistician may develop an interest in training and development.
Those who wish to expand themselves are often talented and motivated people that companies do not want to lose. HR must thus put into place opportunities for these individuals to expand themselves and to “try out” new career interests while employed.
Cisco recently sponsored a study on the benefits of HR departments providing career mobility opportunities for their employees. In doing so, employee engagement increased by 49% and productivity by 39%. These figures should inspire all HR departments to allow employees to try out new roles within the organization.
Millennials are known for “job-hopping.” Allowing for mobility within the organization may help to stem this tide.
- Making Employee Wellness a Priority
Wellness relates to physical, emotional, and financial health. Technology, especially IoT and AI, are allowing employees to set goals, develop individualized wellness strategies, and to have those goals monitored, along with suggestions for improvement.
Companies that make employee wellness a priority have more job satisfaction, less absenteeism, and greater productivity.
The Big Takeaway
Employees - full-time, part-time, contracted freelancers – are consumers in the job market. They are looking for value, a cultural fit, and opportunity. At the same time, technology is disrupting the HR function in a number of ways – in recruitment, in training and development, and in methods by which employees are engaged and motivated. These two phenomena will drive the future of the HR function of organizations. Forward-looking HR managers will embrace these transformations and thus provide great value to their organizations.