Our view on
the Future of Work

Unavoidable trends for HR

  • Labour markets are gradually and almost invisibly shifting from jobs to task; work can move around, jobs are much more difficult to move. Stop thinking “country” or “border”. Workforces will become blended and “shape-shifting”. The company will evolve from a hierarchy to a very complex marketplace where supply and demand need to find each other. ​
  • Technology will slowly transition from employer to worker-centricity. Most HR technology inside companies is way behind a “digital experience”.​
  • COVID-19 will accelerate many developments that are already long-time in the making; working from home, the relevance of health and wellbeing, new models of leadership, purpose-driven, wrapping work around life (and not life around work)​
  • EX will become, slowly, more important. Ongoing career management is “in”; once per year discussions are “out”​
  • The current set up of most HR organisations is good enough for today and yesterday, not for tomorrow.​
  • Tech for learning is still young and will explode in the years to come. Wait for the first companies to develop a DTC approach to learning. Classroom becomes niche. Ongoing re-skilling will become core​
  • Tech in TA will continue to evolve, becomes increasingly candidate centric, focusing on engagement;  eliminating bias in algorithms will continue to be a challenge. ​
  • “Employees” will behave more as “nomads” and the psychological contract between employers & employees will be very different from today; most people leaders grew up differently​
  • Workforce segmentation is emerging; high touch & low tech & totally individualized for the most value creating roles/individuals; low touch & high tech & largely standardized for most of the workforce and something in between for leadership roles. This is a precursor for further personalization.

What does this mean for HR

  • 90% of the employees never “see” HR and most of the people in the HR leadership team only work with the top of the house, but 90% of the organisation is impacted by the things these seniors create or decide. If we want to build a truly engaged workforce, we will need to learn to listen a lot more to the needs of the 90% and a lot less to the top 10% that manages them; there is a business case for organisational empathy and learning to listen. HR can learn this from marketing. The “HR service” function is ripe for a consumer-centric approach, moving away from a process and compliance​
  • Build an EX business case with clear targets on retention, engagement, productivity. If you do EX well, it is a true competitive differentiator, but …..it easily becomes an “HR-thing” if not approached correctly. Think of it as the transition of HR from the steward of employment towards the steward of work and experience. The output of people will gradually become a joint accountability of people managers and HR​
  • Build, buy, partner and acquire or access new capabilities in tech (for HR), data science, analytics for HR, behavioural economics, video production, data visualization. And….HR needs capability building around the “technology of work” ​
  • Start experimenting with the future of work inside the HR function: virtualize, externalize, unbundle jobs, start networking, live the gig economy by example, partner up with multiple providers, crowdsource. Design a workforce strategy for HR. Revisit the set-up of HR and bundle capabilities fluidly (with a blended workforce) around initiatives, rather than around functions in HR; “It is more important to “have access” than to “have”​
  • A strategy about the “virtualization” of work is necessary and this includes a clear point of view on the “blended workforce”, both for HR and the organisation at large. With all of the available knowledge about the future of work, technological developments and the future of your industry, it will be necessary to develop a comprehensive workforce transition strategy. HR is uniquely positioned to lead this in partnership with the strategy function. And one of the design principles needs to be around the “democratization of work”​
  • Build an increasingly “personalized and individualized” learning environment, where “work is learning” and “learning is work”. Can your learning be “externalized”? ​
  • People managers (especially at the top of the house) will need extensive support to “re-wire” their paradigm about the workforce, otherwise they will run the risk to get disconnected. Think of “manager experience” as opposed to “leadership development”.​
  • Be cautious with tech for HR and understand how software companies “tick”; they do not find solutions for your problems, their business is to sell software or licenses that can be scaled. They try to wrap your “problem” into their solutions​