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6 More Trends Shaping the Future of HR in 2017

HR is on the frontline of changes, shifts and technological disruptions in the digital workplace. PHOTO: Ed Gregory

More digital workplaces. New ways of working. The dawn of ethical workplaces. Even more human resources focused technologies. In the first of this two-part series, we shared four trends that will shape the future of HR and the digital evolution of work in 2017 and beyond.

Today, we’ll advance the conversation by bringing you six more trends from two other industry experts, Jeff Wellstead, a partner in the Digital People Practice at Digital Works Consulting, and Perry Timms is founder and chief energy officer at PTHR (People and Transformational HR Ltd.).

  • Jeff Wellstead is a partner in the Digital People Practice at Digital Works Consulting, a UK consultancy that helps clients embrace digital for better business outcomes. He is a Talent and Innovation Accelerator and Future of Work Consultant for small businesses in the emerging, fast-growth high-tech sector, as well as mature businesses undertaking digital transformation.
  • Perry Timms is founder and chief energy officer at PTHR (People and Transformational HR Ltd.), a UK business  built around people and transformational HR services. He is a Chartered Member ​of the CIPD , a Visiting Fellow ​at Sheffield Hallam University and an international and TEDx speaker on HR and the future of work.

New Organizational Structures

“Classical hierarchies and top-down management and decision making are dying, giving rise to devolved decision making by cross-functional teams that work in sprints of activity, are funded via micro-budgets, and able to deliver at unheard of speeds.

“Digital transformation is not just shiny, new technology — it’s a new way of organizing, engaging with customers and employees, and how we build networks of expertise and trust – through cooperation and collaboration — working faster, better, smarter than ever before.

“Thus the ‘team’ becomes the ultimate productivity structure within your organization, and HR needs to be right in the middle of this new construct to build out the optimal team design, ensure the right personalities and skills are represented and to drive new methodologies to ensure the best possible outcomes.”  — Jeff Wellstead

More Tools to Support Work and Collaboration

Jeff Wellstead
Jeff Wellstead

“HR teams need to jump headlong into creating the environment, structures and tools to support 21st century speed of creation, innovation and collaboration.

“New tools (wearables, mobile apps, digital platforms, virtual reality and artificial reality) are all coming to market now with some very credible, tantalizing and powerful capabilities.  Where does HR stand relative to these tool sets, and how to assess their capability, financial impact, personal impact, data generation and implementation?

“Today, I’d say HR isn’t remotely prepared for this challenge — and often look to the IT department to support anything ‘technical’ as it’s just not in their remit to sort this out.  But it’s very much in HR’s wheelhouse to address the incorporation of these sorts of tools, and to scrape data off the back end of using them to derive meaningful and actionable insight to improve their business’ ability to compete, differentiate, innovate and build value.” — Jeff Wellstead

Learning On-Demand, Just-in-Time

“There are all sorts of web-based tools and mobile first applications that can help employees access just what they need to know, when they need to know it.  Learning and development has become a science of mental and psychological enablement, no longer a nice-to-have that makes people feel good about their company investing in them.

“Learning and performance are closely linked together. And with the incredible expanse of knowledge that employees need to be successful — wherever and whenever they need to know it — it is a mission critical advantage now. 

“Organizations need to train one another, provide tools and access across the company, and empower people to succeed under any circumstance imaginable, at rapid speed.” — Jeff Wellstead

Connecting With a Greater Purpose

Perry Timms
Perry Timms

“One trend that probably covers the whole picture of work is the need to connect with a greater purpose than simply having a job and transacting through life. Yes, people are still chasing more money. But they are also ruining their health, their family lives are suffering, and society has fragmented because people are not connecting to each other enough.

“People flourish when their work has a purpose. And so I think that in 2017, companies will need to take a really long, hard look at themselves and their purpose, their reason for being. Just making money isn’t good enough anymore.” — Perry Timms

More Inclusive Workplaces

“Inclusion, of course, covers gender, race, religion, age, disability … all those protected characteristics. But it also means people want to be included and involved in shaping the services, products and future of the company they work with.

“They want to share with a company what a customer really wants, they want to influence a company to stop chasing ridiculous targets and center on the customer.

“Some of the most sustainable companies are those that involve their people in decisions from something as radical as open-book accounting, where anybody can see the financial state of the company, to things like being involved in a new product, or being involved in a shifting customer need with the launch of a new initiative.

“I would like to see HR being more involved as the instigator and the creator of more inclusion activities where people can find themselves shaping and helping to decide what the company is all about.” Perry Timms

Increasing Innovation

“HR needs to be involved in creating as much innovation as possible to deal with the changes, shifts and technological disruptions in the workplace, as well as to lead activity and drive ideas to execution.

“There is an enormous amount of innovation powering companies that we don’t see leveraged today. But if people know the purpose of the company and they are included into shaping its destiny, then innovation will naturally start to generate.” Perry Timms

See part one of this series for four more HR trends from David D’Souza, an executive with the CIPD, a professional organization in the UK for HR and people development, and Chris Russellmanaging director of RecTech Media.

Former journalist Eugenia Bereziuk is a business analyst at CactusSoft, a full-cycle software development company.


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