HR jobs are changing fast. Where once human resource management was all about personnel, it’s increasingly concerned with tackling the big issues facing business today—from automation, to remote working, to employee satisfaction.
“The traditional HR function is still the same, but there are trends that are profoundly impacting the world of work that mean we need different approaches to this function,” says Valentina Battista, a lecturer in human resource management at Cranfield School of Management.
The main trend that Valentina identifies is, unsurprisingly, technological change. The internet has radically changed not only businesses’ priorities, but their workers’ capabilities, and this hyper-connected business world presents a challenge to human resource managers (HRMs).
Here are four key ways that technology will change HR jobs in the future.
1. HR Managers will have to work with more complex data
Collecting and using information to attract talent has always been within the remit of the HRM, but new technology has enabled managers to collect more data, and of a more complex type.
“We are seeing companies that are adopting data collection technology and analytics to improve methods of attracting talent,” Valentina says. “It’s believed that technology can provide new opportunities like this for HR and increase efficiency.”
The ability to analyze and understand this data will be crucial to the future of the HR function—in fact, Cranfield School of Management put it front and center in their MSc in Management and Human Resource Management degree.
Valentina teaches a whole module dedicated to evidence-based management on the program, giving students a necessary grounding in quantitative data analysis and how it can be used to make decisions in business.
2. HRMs will deal with less admin and more strategy
One side effect of this improvement in technology and the uptake of complex data analysis will be the shift away from administrative tasks towards overall business strategy.
“Increasing the availability of data might restructure decision-making processes, creating new opportunities for HR personnel to be involved in more complex and demanding responsibilities,” Valentina says.
Indeed, the MSc in Management and Human Resource Management at Cranfield has a dedicated module on strategic management, and students get to put their questions about strategic leadership to real business leaders through Cranfield’s series of expert seminars.
One huge area Valentina identifies as being key for HR strategization is automation: deciding which jobs can be mechanized and how to do it.
Far from just affecting day-to-day business function, such decisions have a far-reaching impact on a company’s budgeting, hiring, and overall goals for growth—and automation isn’t the only area this is true for.
3. Flexible working will become a priority
70% of people globally work remotely at least once a week, and that number is surely set to rise as more businesses embrace flexible working to cut the costs of having a physical workplace.
For HR leaders, this means crafting the strategic initiatives to make this move to a dispersed workforce a success for both the business and its workers.
“HR leaders are expected to support organizations to encourage social interactions as employees become dispersed—introducing a work schedule that specifically allocates time for meetings, or even promoting workplace redesign to encourage social interaction,” Valentina explains.
“The move to a workforce that is increasingly connected and contactable, along with the increase of global working, means that work is becoming 24 hours, seven days a week, so the HR function is central to addressing these concerns and meeting this challenge for the future.”
4. Skills management will be increasingly important
The final big change that Valentina notes for the future of HR is in the area of skills management.
“Technological advancement is impacting the type of skills organizations will need in the future,” she advises. “HR leaders are expected to work with the organization to support the process of skill development—reskilling or upskilling workers to replace the skills that are not needed and still retaining the workforce.”
The program at Cranfield teaches students how to manage the careers of the workers in their organization and how to identify appropriate talent in the world’s new employment marketplace.
This aspect, combined with the strategic importance that HR will have in the future, means that for Valentina, there can be no question that HR jobs will soon be some of the most important in business.