A person who retired 10 years ago would not recognize the human resources department (HR) today. Similarly, a person retiring today won’t be able to recognize HR 10 years from now. This constant evolution is fueled by the need for HR to meet the developing demands of the organization as well as the changing needs of a dynamic workforce.
It’s up to HR professionals to be prepared for rapid changes taking place today as well as those on the horizon. Successful HR departments will be more adaptive and resilient, able to support organizational transformations while still being talent-focused.
Being prepared means planning a course that is forward-thinking enough to equip the HR function with the tools it needs to handle its talent-management functions while also playing a strategic role within the organization. Going forward, HR will become the differentiator in the modern organization’s ability to recruit, retain, and cultivate quality talent. To be prepared, it is essential that HR professionals incorporate an increasingly widening set of competencies.
Leveraging the cloud
It’s time to replace on-premise HR solutions with software-as-a-service (SaaS) human resource management systems (HRMS). Some industry observers call it a “hot trend. But, the concept of on-premise software along with its licensing, servicing, and maintenance headaches is almost a thing of the past. SaaS HRMS is the future.
The benefits of using a SaaS HR solution include improved user experience for HR staff and employees, savings in resource costs, access to ongoing innovation and best practices to better support the business, and speed to implement and achieve value. Another benefit includes the ability to significantly increase the productivity of the HR staff since many of their manual functions can be automated or fulfilled by employees through a self-service web interface.
HR professionals are increasingly leveraging the cloud. By 2019, the market for SaaS HR solutions will have grown to more than $5.5 billion. That’s up from $3.8 billion in 2014. And, according to a global study, 51 percent of respondents said their companies have already implemented or are planning to implement a cloud-based HR solution.
Better engaging employees
Employee engagement is emerging as an important driver of business success. It is defined by the employees’ connection and commitment to the organization. Engagement isn’t simple job satisfaction. It is the extent to which an employee is involved in advancing the goals of the organization. The higher the level of engagement, the better positioned the organization is to retain talent, increase productivity, and improve organizational performance.
Traditionally, employee engagement has been in the hands of managers and supervisors. Today, and into the future, employee engagement must become part of the HR solution. This means fostering a culture of engagement in the way HR designs, measures, and evaluates workforce policies and practices that support the attraction and retention of talent with the competencies necessary for sustainability and growth.
It also means providing employees with better support services. Employees desire instant access to records such as timesheets and paystubs. They also want to be able to manage their benefits without the delay involved with contacting a member of the HR staff. The self-service portals of SaaS HR solutions meet this need perfectly.
Aligning business goals with talent
A range of related statistics supports the conclusion that the U.S. economy is now an information economy. Manufacturing jobs peaked in 1977 and have since decreased from 19.5 million to just below 12 million. And, the cost of talent per unit of economic output has risen nearly threefold since 1977. Clearly, we are now operating in an information economy that values talent.
Going forward, HR professionals must deploy HR solutions that move beyond a focus on aligning business goals with processes. Solutions that align business goals with talent will win the day. This means selecting software solutions that empower collaboration, growth, and goal alignment through frequent review and feedback on the employee side. And, from the HR staff side, the HR solution must empower data-based decision making.
Exploring artificial intelligence
No. It’s not too early to explore the value of leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) in the HR department. As AI emerges as a way to improve business outcomes by expanding human expertise and improving decision making, it only makes sense that its impact should be felt in HR.
A recent survey conducted by IBM revealed that 66 percent of CEOs believe that AI can drive significant value in HR. Concurring, half of responding HR executives recognize that AI has the power to transform key dimensions of AI.
So, what does AI’s impact on HR look like? AI can support recruitment by creating a customized experience for every applicant. From automating scheduling interviews to answering a candidate’s questions in real-time, AI enables recruiters to spend more time recruiting and hiring.
When it comes to onboarding, an AI system can predict and answer a new employee’s questions to help them get up to speed. AI can automate repetitive, low-value tasks such as allocating space and assigning a laptop computer to an employee. This saves time for more strategic tasks like processing employee feedback.
Integrating contingent workers
Welcome to the new world of work. Today, there are 41 million contingent workers who represent about 31% of the U.S. workforce. And, according to a 2017 survey, 74 percent of companies plan to contract with more contingent workers while 28 percent plan to hire a greater number of contingent workers than full-time employees by 2020. Clearly, from this point forward, HR professionals must become contingent workforce managers.
With access to on-demand talent increasing, HR must adopt new policies and procedures that make it easier for managers to integrate contingent workers with their full-time workforce. Spreading the corporate culture to new-hires is already difficult. However, spreading the corporate culture among contingent workers can be impossible without the right plan in place.
Additionally, working with the contingent workforce raises compliance issues. Because internal leaders will increasingly have the ability to directly hire contingent workers, HR must be vigilant when it comes to compliance risk mitigation from a tax, classification, and financial perspective.
Planning HR solutions for 2019 and beyond—and following through with that plan—can be a challenge. While no plan is future-proof, it is critical that HR professionals at organizations of all sizes begin to get highly strategic with their decision making. Failure to act in this evolving world of work means losing key competitive advantages when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent.