With so many companies using technology to manage benefits, payroll, and recruiting, how concerned should HR professionals be when it comes to job security? Artificial Intelligence and machine learning applications are already eliminating customer service, travel, and administration positions. Can HR be that far behind?

Automation has been improving business processes for years and giving executives more time to focus on strategy and marketing. This is trickling down to the HR department as well. Human resources in the next three years will look vastly different from what it does today.

Here are 6 predictions for how HR will change in 2020.

Prediction #1: HR operations will be primarily outsourced

The human resources department is not going away, but it is certainly going to get a lot smaller.

Many organizations are already outsourcing a lot of their day-to-day operations in areas such as payroll and benefits to consulting companies. A lot of these consultants are one-stop-shops that handle everything from recruiting to job training to exit interviews.

By 2020, the large HR department with its various managers spread across different locations will be extinct. There will be one centralized team working with senior management on strategy while primarily managing and working with the outsourcing agency.

Prediction #2: Remote work will become the norm

More and more companies have been offering flexible work arrangements as part of their overall benefits package in an effort to recruit the best talent. In fact, millennial workers now expect to have the option to work remotely and view flexible work arrangements as a key deciding factor in their job search.

With the exception of service industry, manual labor, and healthcare positions, there is a growing trend towards partial or full-time remote work. Employees are even willing to take a smaller salary in return for the convenience of being able to work from wherever they choose. Remote workers save companies thousands of dollars in expensive office space and reduced productivity due to traffic, sick days, etc.

The human resources department of 2020 will be well-adapted to recruiting, welcoming, and managing remote employees, and they’ll be rewarded for it with the most highly qualified candidates from all over the world.

Which leads us to Prediction #3

Prediction #3: Recruiting will become a global competitive sport

Thanks to the ability to work remotely, recruiters can now consider candidates from across the globe. Of course, the expansion of the talent pool comes with increased competition for that talent.

Future HR teams will have to be strategic in their planning for recruiting the best talent. They won’t just be fighting their competitors for the best hire, but also companies they’ve never heard of before from all over the world.

In 2020, the best HR departments will have all the proper infrastructure to not only recruit the best talent but also make it easy for employees all over the world to work together cohesively.

Prediction #4: Results delivered will outweigh hours worked

The phrase “working 9-to-5” will become as outdated as the song (and the movie, for that matter.)

Companies will no longer view their workforce through a 40-hour workweek lens. Work assignments will be project-based and performance will be evaluated via results produced.

Another shift that will happen as a side-effect to production vs. hours measurement is that more companies will offer unlimited vacation and sick time. When hours aren’t being recorded, employees will be free to plan their own work schedule based on projects and deadlines, which will lead to enhanced productivity.

Prediction #5: HR will become training (and re-training) central

With technology changing at such a rapid pace, it’s easy for employees to become intimidated and fall behind in their skill sets.

The fact that it costs more money to hire a new employee than to keep a current employee will not change in 2020. Once a company has found the right match for a job, they’ll want to do everything they can to keep that person in that position. Continuing education is one of the keys to doing this.

Part of HR’s primary responsibilities will be to work with other departments to stay up-to-date on all the latest technologies and promote constant learning. This is a win-win for the company and the employees as well.

Prediction #6: Demand for niche HR specialists will increase

Even with all the automation and outsourcing affecting HR, it’s still called human resources. Employees are always going to want to talk to a human in person when they have a problem with their paycheck or need a mediator for conflict resolution or simply just need to feel like they are heard.

The demand for highly qualified and experienced HR professionals with particulars areas of expertise will increase as HR generalist positions will be eliminated. This is especially true in highly regulated industries such as healthcare and government.


The key to having a “futuristic” HR plan in place is simply to pay attention to the current trends. Given the fact that 2020 is not that far off, a lot of these predictions are already in motion in many human resource departments around the world.

Yes, technology now moves at the speed of sound. But it’s important to remember that each technological advancement is designed to benefit humans. No matter how “tech savvy” a company becomes, its success still depends on the people it hires.

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