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5 "Future of Work"​ Trends Impacting HR

Are you prepared for the future of work? This is the question that I asked the 150-person audience at the HRD HR Leaders Asia Summit 2019 earlier this month. One brave soul raised her hand. I was impressed. Most HR Leaders look at me with a mix of fear and confusion when I ask them about their readiness for the future of work. The future of work represents a pivot point for HR Leaders. We must pivot from utilizing best practices to building best practices.

“Digital transformation is not about technology, it’s about people”

Building a future-ready workforce

HR Leaders need to move from future ready to future prepared.  A number of trends are impacting the workplace such as flexible working, agile team structures, co-work spaces and the interplay of humans and technology. How can HR Leaders understand these trends and help their companies to stay ahead? They need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Technology and the possibilities that come with it have to be embraced by all—regardless of your current comfort levels.

AI & Recruitment

As an ex-recruiter, the impact of AI on recruitment is a personal interest of mine. In fact, I gave a talk about it earlier this year at one of the start-up incubators. From RPA to video interviews to interviews with a robot, the key question we should be asking ourselves is: “Could we get to a point where a candidate never meets another human during the whole recruitment process?” Personally, I hope not. Although many companies are testing different AI and tech-enabled recruitment tools, hiring still relies on the human touch, like store visits and assessing candidates based on a growth mindset.

However, at IBM, they believe that organizations of the future are both talent centric and AI powered. Sushil Asar (Cognitive Process Transformation Leader - Analytics, Automation & Blockchain Solutions, IBM) spoke about effectively using AI in recruitment. In fact, HR was the first function at IBM where they decided to implement AI, resulting in $350m revenue impact and an upswing in employee engagement. A great example of HR impacting the bottom line!

Predictive Analytics

At a previous conference I hosted, I asked the room of 250 HR Leaders who was using predictive analytics. Not one person raised their hand. Not one! The phrase “predictive analytics” sounds very scary and intimidating. It gives rise to this vision of “HR as fortune teller.” However, it doesn’t have to be. In fact, predictive analytics is being used to solve all sorts of simple, everyday problems that HR Leaders face such as maximizing office space and upgrading the maternity leave policy. As one speaker said about analytics, “Think big, start small, scale fast.”

Consumerization of the workplace

When employees expect their HR systems to be as easy to use as Uber or Netflix, how can HR ensure adoption and engagement of HR tech? For most organizations, it’s no longer good enough to have a strong employer brand or EVP. Now, it’s all about “employee as customer.” We need to understand our employees as well as we understand our customers. HR leaders need to evolve their processes and strategies to provide a competitive and rewarding experience throughout the employee lifecycle.

Organisations risk going from “no tech to over tech.” In reality, tech should be the last piece of the puzzle.


Workforces and organizations are changing and nowhere is this more evident than in the multi-generational workforces of today. Millennials already make up the largest segment of the workforce. Now, millennials are managing employees who are older than them (rather than the other way around). I’ll let you in on a little secret: neither group is very good at it!Lastly, with the impact of digital transformation, all of our organizations are changing. In a change program, take the gathering of information very seriously. Data drives insight, insight drives learning, and learning drives change.

The future of work represents a pivot point for HR Leaders. We must pivot from utilizing best practices to building best practices. The old processes, mindsets and approaches need to change as we consider the impact of AI in recruitment, predictive analytics, consumerization of the workplace and the changes in our workforces and organizations.

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Renee Conklin is an HR Leader who writes about talent attraction, employee engagement and the future of work. She is the founder of RC HR Consulting.

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