5 key insights about the future of HR

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4 mins, 44 secs read time

I attended Namely’s HR Redefined 2018 Conference to hear from some of the top experts in the Talent industry. One of the sessions I attended was “What is the Future of HR?” and I learned although we can’t predict the future, we are able to reflect on the past and learn from leaders about how HR is evolving and what we can do to be successful in these changing times.

George LaRocque, Founder and Principal Analyst at HRWins dished out thought-provoking questions to top experts Peter Phelan, CEO at ValuesCulture, Debra Squyres, Chief Client Officer at Namely, and Cheryl Roubian, our Director of Talent here at Greenhouse.

Even if you couldn’t attend in person, are you ready for a sneak peek into the future?


1. Employee engagement is an innovative process that organizations should begin to implement.

One topic that kept cropping up throughout the conference was the necessity of employee engagement - and for good reason. According to a Harvard Business Review survey, 71% of respondents rank employee engagement as very important to achieving overall success. Whether you’re creating an entirely new product, or even updating policies, it’s important to utilize your strongest asset - your people.

“Rather than going in a corner and building something and then trying and push it out to the company, we try to engage staff from the beginning." - Cheryl Roubian

Debra agreed that today’s best practices are more about using the talent that you have to create organizational frameworks. Policies will feel less like they’re pushed onto the organization by the HR team, and there will be more buy-in and alignment across the company as a whole.

“For forward thinking HR professionals, the way to tap into the results you want to see is through the people.” - Debra Squyres

2. As our organizations grow, we’ll need to scale initiatives by starting with leadership.

“This scales well - especially through pilot programs led by progressive leaders in the organization.” - Peter Phelan

Cheryl provided an actionable way to engage management, claiming that workshops are an easy place to start. “It can be as simple as bringing managers together and asking them what they feel is important to do with their teams,” she adds. Key thoughts can be transformed into a manager playbook that reflects a cohesive story and aligned values.

“The most successful organizations are the ones where HR is not an effort given by a team, but an effort by an organization. The more you can involve teams in your business, the more impactful your initiatives will be.” - Cheryl Roubian

3. The “war for talent” is here and we need to change our recruitment strategies if we want to win.

“The single biggest factor impacting change in our organizations is the demand for talent and the sheer war that we’re in to bring in the best talent and unleash that talent.” - Debra Squyres

Companies are competing for top talent while neglecting their strongest weapon to do so, their brand. And while brand perception is everything, “it’s becoming difficult for companies to maintain their employer branding in the days of Glassdoor reviews,” Debra called out. Employers need to face this new challenge by promoting their values rather than behind the scenes offerings.

Debra added that in five to 10 years, we’ll start to see “independent workers” who are hired based on a company’s needs and an individual’s skillset, meaning it’s going to be difficult to find that “perfect person” to replace a candidate who leaves a job. Companies will be tasked with figuring out how to assess a candidate’s specialized skills when hiring, and develop them to take on more.

4. (Human) Talent teams have a magic touch that AI won’t replace.

George asked the panel’s thoughts on automation and artificial intelligence taking over jobs and after a slight silence, laughter ensued. Debra even responded with a to-the-point, “Eh, I’m not worried.” Automation and machine learning is coming, but no one seems to be too afraid of it taking over the talent profession so much as to replace human workers.

According to George, and the work he’s done with HROS in the Future of Work 2018 Report, those in HR are guiding an organization above these trends. AI may alleviate time-consuming administrative work, but today’s practitioners usually do so much more. HR is the “people” industry for a reason. We need personal interactions, emotional connections, and personalization that a robot just cannot match.

“AI will change jobs and will change the way things are run, but we’ll always need people... Progressive HR professionals are here to stay.” - George LaRocque

5. Investing in people analytics is a game-changer.

George noted that 40% of employers said that they’ll be implementing people analytics in the next couple of years. It’s crucial to business, as it helps quantify and address people-oriented issues like career dissatisfaction and employee morale in the workplace. It’s also a valuable tool for recruitment and retention. When we make data-driven decisions, we reduce unconscious bias that hides under the guise of a “gut feeling,” leading us to better hiring (and in turn, better companies).

And my favorite piece of gold nugget advice for the road...

“Reach out to peers. There’s so much change happening. We can’t predict the future, but we can learn from each other and learn from each other’s resources.” - George LaRocque

Check back here in a week for my full event recap of HR Redefined 2018.

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Micah Gebreyes

Micah Gebreyes

is a Senior Manager of Content Marketing at Greenhouse where she develops and leads the content strategy for Greenhouse blogs, social media and thought leadership newsletter, Modern Recruiter. When she's not working to bring the brand story to life, she enjoys spending time with her Pomeranian, Cashew. Keep the conversation growing with Micah on LinkedIn or through the Greenhouse LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.