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HR at the Wheel

Technology, data analytics, flexible working styles, and DEI initiatives are driving the workforce of the future.

By Paul Burrin

With the second anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring a global pandemic approaching, it’s hard to predict the future. With businesses struggling with the uncertainties around new COVID-19 variants, supply chain issues, and increasing inflation, HR will continue to play a vital role in guiding companies through these unpredictable times. Nearly two-thirds of HR leaders recently said they’ve become more visible and influential within their organizations as a result of the pandemic.

This increased influence and visibility gives HR leaders the opportunity to set their sights on the future, using this time of evolving work styles and increased openness to adaptation to their advantage. Sage’s recent research report, HR in 2030, revealed the top five trends that will likely guide the HR profession over the next decade.

1. Predictive HR analytics will play a large role in decision-making. It’s not enough to just have an HR analytics program in place. That data should be used to drive actionable decision-making and results. By 2030, the data that HR collects and analyzes will routinely be used to drive business outcomes. Predictive people analytics will inform broader business strategies and give companies a strategic edge.

Today, many companies are already using HR or people analytics, but the Sage study found it’s not currently being leveraged to drive actionable bottom line decision-making. However by 2030, HR data that drives business outcomes and predictive analytics will become routine as HR professionals become more confident using forward-looking actionable insights to inform wider business decision-making.

2. HR analytics teams will mirror how software teams operate today. Over the next decade, HR teams will shift toward operating more similarly to how software engineering teams work today. A software team invests in the right tools (like critical software), puts in place agile processes that save time and effort, and effectively communicates its information and progress to the organization. Constant test and learn iterations and experimentation with new strategies will become the norm, helping HR make intelligent choices more rapidly.

3. Diverse working styles will become the norm. Employee expectations of employers are changing as forward-thinking companies push to meet the demand for flexibility. Tech startups like Bolt have implemented four-day workweeks while other organizations like Zoom have committed to hybrid work models. Companies that write more flexible working conditions into their contracts are fighting The Great Resignation tide and attracting top prospective employees to their organization. To be successful in this new era of working, HR should become even more people-centric, focusing on meeting employee expectations while setting parameters that also work for the bottom line of the business.

4. HR will tap into advanced AI and IoT technology. Administrative tasks often increase the pressure on HR’s workload. In fact, according to the Sage study, 40% of HR leaders say they’re still too focused on admin. How can HR liberate itself from the headache of menial administrative tasks? It all comes down to embracing technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IoT). With the right investments, HR can embrace a smart AI and IoT-enabled future that provides in-depth, actionable insights into the people within their organizations. To get ahead of the curve, HR leaders should begin discussions with the C-suite to get buy-in for bringing the latest cutting-edge technologies aboard.

5. Diversity will take a front seat. Companies shouldn’t wait to prioritize diversity and equality. Research by Gartner found that over half of U.S. employees say that the pandemic has changed their expectations of their employer. Increasingly, employees are prioritizing working for a company that reflects their values and are unwilling to settle for hollow promises about increasing diversity or closing the pay gap. Some of today’s organizations are putting their money where their mouth is by taking steps toward a more equitable workforce. Investing in progress and knocking down workforce barriers should be a priority for any human-focused people team.

These trends aren’t just for 2022: It is expected that they will drive the future of HR through the next decade. By 2030, the companies that will stay on top and attract the best workers are the ones with HR teams that prioritized technology, data analytics, flexible working styles, and DEI initiatives. Starting the journey toward embracing the future of HR now will help HR teams take the lead in making their companies more resilient and strategic, even in times of uncertainty.

Paul Burrin is the vice president of Sage People.

Tags: Data & Analytics, Diversity & Inclusion, HR Technology

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