Vice President, Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work Cognizant
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Future of work: the top HR job roles of the next decade

The last decade – and 2020 in particular – has seen dramatic shifts in the way we work, and more change is yet to come. As technology evolves, so too will the HR job roles required to manage all of this.

7th Aug 2020
Vice President, Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work Cognizant
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Group of people working in a modern board room with augmented reality interface, all objects in the scene are 3D
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The Covid-19 crisis has seen people adapt to new ways of living, working and forging relationships. While the full implications are still unclear, the pandemic is certain to accelerate workforce transformation and increase demand for digitally enabled jobs. HR’s role within organisations will be central to this transformation.

This is HR’s 'moment of truth' – the opportunity to lead organisations in navigating the future of work and prepare workers for the next decade. 

As we experience shifts in how and where we work and the technology tools we use, employees are increasingly turning to their employers for guidance on how to navigate the future of work and prepare for the next decade. The pandemic has therefore forced HR leaders to rethink their mission and propose new ways of working, learning and collaborating across the enterprise.

Technology increasingly pervades the work we do inside and especially outside of the HR function. Despite this, humans – and the notion of ‘essential workers’ – have never been more integral to business than today. These anticipated changes to the world of HR will give rise to the emergence of many new roles, which are highlighted in a recent report 21 HR jobs of the future.

Emerging HR roles are based on five fundamental needs

The HR jobs expected to arise over the next decade are predicted to encompass five essential themes, which will be largely driven by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, in addition to the new era of artificial intelligence (AI), algorithms and automation.

Wellbeing

With the growth of the digital economy, our ‘always on’ way of working and the stresses of managing work/life balance and the added pressure of dealing with the coronavirus, it has never been more important to help workers take care of themselves.

New HR jobs will be created to drive employee wellness as a business strategy rather than merely an office perk. These include roles such as distraction prevention coaches to help turn the tide on smartphone obsessions and encourage workforces to rediscover their healthiest, most productive selves; workplace environment architects, who will ensure offices and workplaces are designed with the health and wellness of stakeholders in mind; and chief purpose planners, who will help businesses define and articulate their contribution to society and purpose for both customers and prospective employees.

Organisational trust

HR professionals are in a unique position to be guardians of ethical and responsible workplaces. The proliferation of a ‘culture of data’, where every decision is based on data, increases that requirement and amplifies the need to create systems to ensure there is fairness, transparency and accountability within senior HR leadership.

This will lead to HR job roles such as genetic diversity officers, who will work closely with genetic pathologists to ensure genetic inclusion within organisations. We will also see other roles such as human bias officers and algorithm bias auditors, who will ensure both humans and AI systems within organisations are fair and ethical.

Culture Pioneers link

Creativity and innovation

In a post-pandemic world, everything that can go virtual will go virtual, from meetings to employee training. New HR roles will be created around these mandates, from WFH facilitators to oversee the integration and engagement of the remote workforce, to VR immersion counsellors, who will help HR departments design, facilitate, personalise and massively scale the rollout of best-in-class workforce training and collaboration in virtual reality. All of which will help realise the potential for scaling best-in-class remote workforce programmes.

Data literacy

HR professionals should ensure that data literacy becomes part of the organisation’s culture, and HR jobs of the future need to exemplify evidence-based decisions. With organisational network analysis already heating up, human network analysts are expected to emerge to better understand the ‘natural network’ of how people come together and stay connected using artificial intelligence and data analytics.

Human and machine partnerships

Teams of humans and machines will lead to the creation of new HR roles focusing on cooperative working. Human-machine teaming managers will operate at the intersection of humans and machines, increasing cooperation rather than competition and creating a new seamless collaboration.

Welcome to a new world of HR

As HR leaders are often consumed with handling the impending disruption of jobs, automation, changing workforce demographics or multi-generational workforces, they are often unable to address the key issue of how these massive transformations will impact and fundamentally change the role of HR professionals.

As workforces continue to change in their composition, habits and tools, HR departments need to adapt to their employees’ changing needs. This ultimately presents opportunities within the HR function itself to both reflect and then drive this progression.

This is HR’s 'moment of truth' – the opportunity to lead organisations in navigating the future of work and prepare workers for the next decade. Emerging roles such as the ones outlined here are integral to the future success of chief HR officers, their teams, and to driving employee engagement.

Interested in this topic? Read Future of work: will HR become obsolete?

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