Is HR at risk of extinction?

A global research study has predicted that the HR industry is at risk of becoming irrelevant if it fails to rapidly reinvent itself

Is HR at risk of extinction?
A global research study has predicted that the HR industry is at risk of extinction if it fails to rapidly reinvent itself.

The research was featured in last year's book Cliffhanger: HR on the Precipice in the Future of Work, co-authored by Sylvia Vorhauser-Smith, senior vice president of global research, PageUp and Karen Cariss, CEO and co-founder of PageUp.

The research suggests that HR’s own journey of reinvention has extended over the last few decades, with a lack of urgency, diluted focus and direction, and measures of success that remain ill-defined.

Moreover, the report says that workplaces are being redefined and reimagined, underscored by a new understanding of productivity and engagement which will see a multi-modal future workforce.

Cariss told HRD that in 2018 some companies are recognising that HR really needs to play a strategic role, understand the business strategy and then align the people strategy to that business strategy.

“There are so many choices now regarding how you can structure your workforce and how you can create a workforce that are going to support your business strategy,” said Cariss.

“We are seeing organisations starting to adopt and leverage some of those different mechanisms of structuring your workforce.

“And we are certainly seeing that technology is playing a very large role in that.”

Cariss added that there are challenges around having a distributed workforce, with workers that are not permanent direct hires anymore.

“How do you make sure that they have got the right information, that they are aligned with your business, that they are doing the things that are going to drive the right outcomes? New technology is going to be a big enabler to that,” she said.

“How do you maintain your culture? How do you drive engagement across your organisation when you have got workforces that are in different places, times and cultures? New technology is going to be a big enabler to that.”

Cariss added that there is now a much broader spread of generations in the workforce and there are expectations that some of those generations can pull up an app and get information quickly in the workplace just as they can in their consumer life.

“We are also seeing that HR is starting to really adopt those technology solutions to help enable the interaction with the workforce and the facilitation of the right information that people need in order to get their job done,” she said.

“HR is on the edge of a cliff and at real risk of falling over. They have two choices: either invent a way across the chasm or disappear into it.

“As time goes on, we will likely see some organisations get on with the process of reinvention and make the changes that are needed and reinvent their businesses to be able to adapt to the new world.”

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