In recent research, 72% of HR leaders told Sage People that the pandemic had increased their value and understanding of their role, with 59% believing that they had become more visible and influential as a result.
So, what next for HR? What lessons can we take from the last few years, and what does the future of HR hold?
Whilst no one can predict the future, we at Sage have spoken to a range of HR experts across the globe to find out what HR in 2030 will look like.
Some key themes stood out in our report, ‘HR in 2030’. Interestingly, many of the themes which arose are opportunities and challenges HR leaders are facing right now.
However, despite the findings revealing many issues that we are already aware of, it also highlighted that we’ve only just scratched the surface – and there’s still a very long way to go.
1. Diverse work-styles like the four-day week will become the norm
Flexible work-styles, such as remote and hybrid working, are already the norm today. Companies that don’t offer flexible ways of working are already losing top talent today, as the Great Resignation is proving.
As a result, true flexibility will become the norm by 2030, driven by employee expectations, explains Mel Norris-Green, Research Adviser at CIPD.
“The world of work is changing,” comments Norris-Green, “and the remit of HR needs to shift in line with this. HR will need to juggle things like changing employer-employee expectations.” This will mean things like working a four-day week will become commonplace.
Gen Z, already proponents of a better work-life balance and more flexible working, will make up a significantly higher proportion of the workforce by 2030
Gen Z, already proponents of a better work-life balance and more flexible working, will make up a significantly higher proportion of the workforce by 2030, also influencing how companies prioritise hybrid, flexible ways of working.
In 2022, HR leaders should review their flexible working strategies for their employees and prospective employees alike.
Consider if, and how, your organisation could implement a four-day week; write more flexible working hours into your contracts to give your employees the benefit of choosing how and when they’d like to work; and update and set parameters in your associated policies.
2. HR agility: HR will adopt more agile methodologies, mirroring how software teams operate today
Research conducted by Sage before the pandemic, shows that just 29% of HR leaders said they were organised for flexibility, adaptability and speed.
By 2030, HR will be working in a more agile way, like that deployed by software engineering today, to test and experiment new strategies and policies.
Daily stand-ups, iterating continuously and ‘responding to change, over following a plan’ – as the Agile Manifesto sets out – will become the norm.
Only 29% of HR leaders admitted that they were organised for flexibility, adaptability, and speed.
As a result, HR teams will be increasingly able “to make intelligent choices faster and accelerate business performance,” explains Mofoluwaso Ilevbare, Head of HR at Procter & Gamble Australia and New Zealand.
To get ahead in 2022, HR teams can familiarise themselves with agile principles and approaches by reading the Agile Manifesto, considering how it can apply in your organisation, and adopting a more ‘test and learn’ iterative mindset.
3. Predictive HR analytics will become routine
Many companies today are already using HR analytics, but Sage’s recent research found it’s not currently being used to drive actionable bottom-line decision-making, and HR teams are concentrating more on lagging metrics than leading.
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 more wider business decision-making.
“In tomorrow’s world of work, HR will not only be responsible for aligning their work with the employees they serve, but also, bigger business and bottom-line results”, explains Matt Charney, Head of Industry and Product Marketing at SmartRecruiters.
In 2022, there are several actions HR professionals can take to prepare and get ahead, including:
Understand where you currently are in your people analytics maturity. For example, are you simply collecting data? Or are you able to report on/analyse it? We often talk about people analytics being a journey – it’s paramount to be clear on where you are within that journey right now today
Bring external data skills into the team to support more targeted data use – either as contractors, agencies, or new roles with experience working with data
Find out what data the C-suite wants/needs to help inform business decision-making
4. The great admin liberation: HR will free up time to truly rearchitect work, by tapping into advanced automation, AI, and the Internet of Things
Admin is something HR leaders have been struggling with for years, and since the pandemic, this has added more pressure to HR’s increased workload. 40% of HR leaders say they’re still too focused on it.
By 2030, more advanced automation, AI, and The Internet of Things (IoT) will be more prevalent, continuing to liberate HR from menial admin.
Currently, businesses are searching for talent specialising in IoT to solve business challenges.
In order to stay ahead of the competition, HR leaders need to obtain heavy investment in new technology.
15% more jobs were advertised for candidates specialising in IoT in April 2021 than in April 2020, with both suppliers and companies looking to adopt IoT competing for talent.
However, Linda Holbeche, Co-Director of The Holbeche Partnership, explains that “it’s evolving so fast and it’s hard to get to the front of the queue when it comes to investing in technology.”
To get ahead, HR leaders in 2022 should seek buy-in from the C-suite for new HR technology.
Find out who would be involved in the buying decision and speak to them to understand what they’d need to see for a strong business case.
The full ‘HR in 2030’ report sets out in more detail what HR can expect, what skills will be important, and the role technology plays today.