If you are employed today, you might be wondering what your workplace will look like a year or even five years from now. The world that we work in is constantly changing, and we have to keep up with it to stay relevant and employable. Here are a few tips on what HR professionals should keep top-of-mind.

fabio-lucas-_eYDuLSjkpw-unsplashWhat Is the Future of Work (FOW)?

The world of work is constantly changing. You might hear words like automation, artificial intelligence (AI) and upskilling thrown around right now. The future of work is prepping the workforce for a time when simple tasks are automated, and humans focus on high-level tasks.

FOW can feel like a far-off concept, but many careers are already starting to feel the pressure of automation, especially since the pandemic began in 2020.

What Does the FOW Look Like in HR?

It is safe to assume the ‘human’ in ‘human resources’ isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. For HR professionals, it’s about using technology to make work more efficient.

Many HR professionals share that they are overwhelmed, and additional assistance can help relieve some of those feelings. HR technology companies are building products to help HR leaders be more effective at their jobs. Effectiveness does lead to smaller HR team sizes, but (unfortunately) HR has always been a smaller operation for many companies.

Here are some FOW changes you can expect in HR over the next few years.

Automation of Routine Workflows

Automation is a huge part of the future of HR. HR tasks like scheduling meetings with candidates and current employees, payroll processing and recruiting candidates can be automated in small ways. While many Americans fear automation and what it can mean for their jobs, this is an opportunity for HR to shed some of those easy tasks and focus their energy on big picture tasks.

Routinize and automate your biggest time-sucks so that you can focus on building relationships with employees, fixing talent retention issues, recruiting and creating an engaged company culture. These are the types of strategies you probably cannot problem solve if you are constantly putting out fires at work.

Agile Collaboration for a Decentralized Workforce

If you’ve been working from home this year, you already know the need for better collaboration. According to Deloitte, remote collaboration is suffering because of all of the outside distractions that employees face working from home, not to mention the lack of direct engagement with coworkers.

Companies have to learn agility and move quickly. Mix things up to get the most important work done. As companies become more decentralized (or location-independent), employees will have to consider how to stay connected as the future of work becomes clearer.

AI for Efficient Talent Acquisition

Some jobs have hundreds of applications as soon as the listing goes live, while some roles struggle to get enough qualified candidates. As the talent acquisition pool becomes bumpier and more unpredictable, companies need to find applicants quickly to win the best people for their team.

AI can help companies shortlist the best candidates and reduce diversity biases that keep qualified candidates out of the applicant pool. Consider an AI tool that doesn’t stop you from seeing candidates (just puts them further down the list) so that you don’t miss out on a potentially great fit.

Technology for Better Workforce Management

As your workforce grows, you need to be able to scale with them. One-on-one interviews and rewards might not cut it anymore. Through the use of technology, you can:

  • Design and implement precise feedback surveys that give you insight into your people.
  • Reward employees quickly and efficiently.
  • Recognize the hard work of your team with a few clicks of your mouse.

Employee engagement will continue to be a big issue for HR professionals. Technology gives you better insight into your people while helping you do everything quicker.

Evolution of Employment Models for the Gig Economy

Over the past few years, independent contractors have become a bigger part of the workforce. Since these types of workers were so new at first, there weren’t many laws or ordinances to protect them. Companies like Uber and Amazon have benefited from gig workers, and federal and state government is starting to notice that.

Laws like California’s AB-5 and the United States’ PRO Act, are two laws you might have heard a lot about lately. These laws aim to protect gig economy workers from misclassification. While many gig economy workers are doing so purposefully, some organizations are leaning on the gig economy to hire fewer workers.

Over the next few years, you will see a shift in the way employers and contract owners classify and protect workers of all types. You might have to provide more benefits, rights and protections to the independent contractors who help your organization grow.

Even the laws currently under consideration are bound to change over the next few years. It’s important to keep an eye on these changes going forward.

Talent-Based Workforce Planning

Workforce planning is becoming more important now than ever before. As the future of work becomes clearer, the skills you need today may not be in demand in a few years. Organizations are starting to prep their internal workforce through upskilling while putting thought into what skills their employees will need in the near future.

As an HR professional, you have to address your organization’s short and long-term goals/needs. Work with company leaders to determine where to spend your recruiting time.

stock-photo-business-technology-analytic-1809462-1Conclusion: Prepare for the FOW Now

The future of work isn’t a far-off concept. If you want your company to innovate and keep up with your industry’s trajectory, you should be preparing for the future of work today. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Go through your current workplace policies to ensure they are updated for today’s employees.
  • Keep up with local, state and federal regulations around employment and gig economy workers.
  • Create a more diverse and skill-tested talent pipeline.
  • Understand and use technology to help you become more effective at your job.
  • Bring up these changes to others at your company so you can all grow together.