HR in 2030: What Does the Future Hold
When it comes to predicting the future, there is nothing like a worldwide pandemic, economic turbulence, and geopolitical turmoil to remind us that forecasting can be an activity with more pitfalls than curtain calls.
Yet business leaders understand that they must keep looking ahead because sailing their companies into uncharted waters blindly, without preparation or a sense of direction, is the surest way to end up wrecked on the rocks.
Future of HR Matters to Organizations More Than Ever
When it comes to HR, the unprecedented turn of events in the past three years is cause for many to not just investigate what 2023 holds, but industry experts are imagining what HR in 2030 will look like.
“The global economy is continually being shaken by disruptive forces that will affect both social and professional life. Not only will the day-to-day work of employees and the tools they use change, but also entire organizational processes, such as the way companies find, reward, and retain talent. The days of Human Resources (HR) as we know it at present may be numbered,” wrote Deloitte in a bit of prophecy several years before Covid-19 became a household word.
Global accounting, payroll, and payment systems software and solutions provider Sage argues today HR is battle-tested after leading the way through the most challenging crisis in most of our lifetimes.
“The pandemic has truly shone a light on HR in organizations,” says Sage in its “HR in 2030” report. “With no pre-existing playbook for dealing with a global crisis, businesses turned to “people leaders” to help steer them through the uncertainty—and HR leaders well and truly took up the mantle.”
One Big Takeaway: Putting “Human” Back in HR
Sage interviewed HR leaders for its report and found that the pandemic and resulting crisis led to:
- Increased the value and wider understanding of HR’s role across organizations (72 percent)
- Enabled HR to become more influential and visible in their organization (59 percent)
- Employees noticed changes in HR’s role as it became more people-focused and strategic (60 percent)
“The crisis well and truly shifted the world of work in every way. To succeed in this ever-changing landscape, HR and “people leaders” will need to work with the c-suite to re-evaluate what productivity means in the new reality, and to redefine what an outstanding employee experience looks like,” says Sage.
One of the biggest takeaways from Sage’s research is that in the coming decade we can expect an emphasis on the “human” in HR.
“From personnel to HR, to [company leaders] – the function is shifting again towards ‘human’. The HR and “people leaders” of 2030 will be agile, tech and data-oriented, and with a strong human emphasis,” says the Sage report.
5 HR Trends Expected in 2030
The Sage report interviewed 17 HR experts and came up with a consensus of five HR trends we can expect to see in 2030:
- Flexible and Hybrid Working: Zoom calls are here to stay, at least part of our ideal work weeks. HR will be challenged to thread the needle to meet employee expectations while optimizing workforce needs. Those employee expectations include:
o 92 percent of millennials said flexible work was a top priority when job hunting
o 70 percent of employees felt flexible work made a job more attractive
o 50 percent of employees want a great work-life balance
o 43 percent of employees place career advancement as their top priority
o 41 percent of employees place ethics and values as their most important priority
HR will need a focus on a training-forward approach to help employees acquire new skills, as well as designing, sustaining, and implementing tailored employee experiences that provide positive outcomes.
- Organizational Flexibility, Fluidity, and Agility Led by HR: The pandemic taught HR leaders to be ready for the unexpected. For 2030, one expert said HR should be “future-ready and ‘on the front foot’ during challenging times.” Agile, digitally savvy, and inclusive are all components of this strategy. Technology can play a role in helping HR make faster, and more intelligent, decisions.
- People Analytics: By 2030 expect analytics in HR teams to have evolved beyond just data reporting and collection and leading to driving business impact across all organizations. The shift will include predictive analytics that will support c-suite decision-making. One expert said that “data will be the daily language of HR by 2030, with it defining and creating the way in which HR communicates with strategic stakeholders.” HR’s grasp of this data and analytics will make it a central player in their company with sought-after insights, opinions, and views.
- HR Automation Will be the Great Admin Liberator: Automation will free up HR leaders' time to focus on the things that really matter, as well as to take on more of a leadership role across organizations. The hope is that automation can free up a third of HRs current time which will balance the fact that 40 percent of HR leaders feel like their workload is too focused on paperwork and admin chores. As in the analytics above, tech (especially the promise of AI) will play a leading role in this HR 2030 trend.
- DEI Will Encompass Sustainability and Much More: Companies, says Sage, still have a long way to go when it comes to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), and employees already expect and deserve more than just hollow words. Employees will expect in 2030 that their companies show true efforts to contribute to global sustainability.
What 12 HR Skills Will be Need in 2030
Looking ahead to 2030, today’s HR leaders see these 12 skills as being crucial to getting ahead in the future:
- Innovation: Companies must innovate their HR and leadership practices as the way people are managed changes rapidly.
- Agility: Have the energy and creativity needed for those challenges and crises yet to come.
- Influence: HR leaders that want to be able to affect change must have the communication skills and business understanding to build their standing in the organization.
- Collaboration: Working with other groups and leadership teams such as IT is key.
- Compassion: Putting the “human” back in HR will require compassion and the ability to build people-to-people connections.
- Empathy: Identifying with others and understanding their point of view is the hallmark of great leadership.
- Critical Thinking: No two problems or situations are identical so critical thinking is a skill set needed for the future of HR.
- Resilience: Covid-19 taught many HR leaders that resiliency is a core skill to survive chaotic and unpredictable times.
- Analytics: HR leaders will need to enhance their analytic skills because data and analytics will place such a central role in 2030.
- Confidence in Decision Making: Critical thinking and influence are great, but HR leaders need to have confidence in their own ability to make big (and small!) decisions.
- Emotional IQ: Working on your own emotional intelligence can help HR leaders to motivate team members and help them and the organization move forward positively.
- Digital Savviness: There is no turning the clock back on the digital revolution and HR leaders need to educate themselves on software tools and other IT infrastructure that will be the basis for HR in 2030.
While we focused on the “human” in HR and its important role, an underlying theme across the trends and skills for 2030 is technology.
“Technology opens so many doors for HR leaders and their teams,” says Sage. “IT means reducing laborious admin, having the right data to understand your people better, becoming more agile to support the well-being of your employees, and so much more,” says Sage.
Contact Employer Flexible for help in identifying opportunities in your operations and how you can leverage HR to help your company navigate the coming decade.