Over the past few years, with tech evolving at its current unprecedented rate, several organisations have tried to predict how the employment sector will be impacted. This then leads to the question of what role will HR have to play in the scenario. According to a survey by PwC of over 200 HR professionals in late 2016, digitization and automation will make 20 to 30 per cent of jobs obsolete between 2021-26, but only 16% of companies feel they are ready for that change. Many such changes are imminent and will certainly impact the role of HR in the future.
“I can envision a future where HR professionals are no longer thinking that their job is to stay on top of current HR trends but to reposition [themselves] to become workforce advisors,” said Jill Goldstein, Global Practice Lead for Talent and HR Operations at Accenture in Miami, to SHRM. According to an article published in the HR Magazine of the Society for Human Resource Management in 2015, a group of top chief HR officers and thought leaders looked ahead to 2025 and predicted five possible HR job descriptions of the future.
- Organizational Engineer
The new HR professional in this job role would be an expert in varying new ways. They would be able to effortlessly extract better effectiveness from virtual teams, and would be adept at handling talent transitions while also being able to develop leadership of all kinds, fitting with the diverse teams and different work cultures of the future. Additionally, they would have to be excellent at optimizing tasks and know how to make use of organisation principles like agility, networks, power and trust.
- Virtual Culture Architect
It is becoming increasingly easy now to incorporate teams with members scattered across the globe in any business. Virtual culture architects would be adept at understanding and managing such cross-cultural virtual teams. They would attempt to understand global cultures and assist virtual teams work together by facilitating communication. They would be excellent at communicating values, norms and beliefs across cultures through virtual and cultural means, to help teams function better. They would also help in building the brand and try to connect the employees’ purpose with the company’s purpose.
- Global Talent Scout, Convener and Coach
These professionals are likely to develop and find talents globally, and match them with the organisation’s requirements. They would also act as a life coach to employees, especially the new joinees who often require guidance in the initial stages. They would understand various international cultures thanks to the global nature of their work, and further, boast of expertise in developing remote work models (freelancers, contractors, etc.). Their work would also involve forging relationships among workers and developing a work ethic and a sense of purpose in them, towards fulfilling the goals of the organisation.
- Data, Talent and Technology Integrator
These folks would be savvy in all the new tech, especially data analytics, given all the deserving hype it has generated lately. Their role would involve forecasting skills and scouting talent through technology and big data analytics. They would also be erudite about productivity technology and help the company improve its productivity through technology. They would be able to code and adjust algorithms to ultimately have technology, automation and human contributions converge.
- Social Policy and Community Activist
HR professionals with this job role would be able to engage the community and scope out talents from within. They would be in charge of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) of the company, leading the CSR activities in ways that would be beneficial to society. This is an important role for them to play, since the social and environmental problems we are facing globally are only increasing, and good initiatives by large companies go a large way in helping the community. They would also be influencers even beyond the organisation, shaping company policies and regulations compatible with the new and ever-growing world.
Several people are under the impression that with our increasing dependence on technology for several aspects now, millions of people will be out of jobs soon. This is true even for HR because machines would soon be able to do what HR professionals now do. But this is a misconception. As the above potential job descriptions show, it is more likely that while the job roles of today may become obsolete, the work of HR professionals of the future is much broader and more challenging than it is today.