Putting the ‘human’ back into HR

2020 has evolved workforce expectations, fast tracked AI driven insights, and broadened the skillsets of HR

Putting the ‘human’ back into HR

The year so far has reshaped our approach to HR. With majority of corporate Australia still bunkered down in their home offices, HR teams have had to discover new methods of coordinating, managing, and communicating with staff from afar.

Although we’ve just adjusted to the ‘new normal’, many in the HR industry feel there are plenty more changes to come.

According to Sage’s Changing the Face of HR research report, 82% of HR leaders anticipating their role to be unrecognisable in the next 10 years. Luke Thomas identifies three areas where he believes 2020 will leave an impact on the HR industry.

HR continues to become more employee focused
People companies and progressive ‘People’ teams have shifted from being largely focused on low value, manual processes, and policies, to a team generating more business value. They not only partake in the day to day tasks required of HR but now proactively build great experiences for their people that keep them motivated, engaged and productive, so employees and the business can thrive.

An overwhelming 69% of HR leaders anticipate employees’ expectations of HR will completely change in the next three years alone. Around four in ten are adopting cloud (43%) and mobile technologies (36%), followed by people analytics (26%) and self-service (24%).

Companies that have made significant progress in their HR to People journey know that becoming a People company isn’t just a nice thing to do. It’s vital in creating a successful business in the digital economy.

Read more: 5 ways artificial intelligence changes the workplace

Adoption of AI technology on the rise
Sage’s global research shows HR and People teams are in the early stages of learning the value of emerging technologies such as AI (13% of respondents had adopted some form of AI in 2019) and gamification (12%), but there is more to do.

AI is a hot topic at the moment. Experimentation is everywhere, from attracting and developing new skills, improving experiences and providing better analytical support.

Are expectations of AI realistic or is it just hype and creating confusion? Leading analyst John Sumser points out that AI is nothing more than a set of sophisticated statistics. The output of a machine is opinion not fact. Machine learning thrives on discovering patterns in data that requires large volumes of high-quality data to be meaningful.

While AI offers significant potential, there is also a need to avoid further confusion and understand the consequences of introducing these technologies. As AI becomes increasingly sophisticated, its decision-making processes become more opaque to all but a few.  There are also ethical considerations to overcome – employers need to find the balance between productivity and ethics when thinking about how machines and humans can partner to get the job done.

Expect the adoption of AI to play out in 2020 as companies grapple with the new possibilities it brings.

Read more: How to promote emotional intelligence in the workplace

HR on the hunt for wider skillsets
Our research found 82% of HR leaders believe the role of HR will be very different in the future, indeed, almost nine in ten (86%) identified skills gaps and the need for new skillsets.

HR teams noted they need to be more tech-savvy, creative and proficient in managing data and analytics. But they also saw a need for better communications and marketing skills, the ability to provide stronger vision and leadership, along with offering expertise in behavioural sciences.

In 2020, new skills mean fresh opportunities for career growth and the development of HR staff. It also provides the chance to work more collaboratively with experts in adjacent functions, such as IT or marketing.

Luke Thomas, people and payroll marketing manager, Sage.

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