The world is changing extremely quickly and companies are working hard to stay relevant in a fast-paced and hypercompetitive business environment.

But staying relevant is not just a matter of innovating or achieving operational excellence. It’s also about transforming the business and the corporate models it is based on in order to become a real workplace of the future.

I believe that Human Resources (HR) professionals have a big role to play in that transformation process. HR will be the pioneering force in creating the workplace of the future. To accomplish this, it will essential to leverage new technologies, data management, and other innovations.

Here are five important trends that will transform the workplace and Human Resources in the next 10 years.

Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Automation

Research by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne shows that around 47% of all jobs in the US will be lost to artificial intelligence (AI) and automation in the next 10 years. Today, many companies have robots and humans working side by side. Robots are becoming cheaper and human skills are not keeping up with technological developments. This trend will continue, and the replacement of humans in various jobs remains inevitable.

This poses a myriad of ethical workplace dilemmas. HR will have to deal with and manage a healthy balance between robotic and human labor. In particular, HR will be essential to ensuring that employees are provided with professional challenges that maximize their creative potential, allowing them to contribute more value than their robotic counterparts.

The ROI metric will no longer be based on the number of outputs, but on the quality of the creative outputs. HR will have to design a workplace that facilitates this.

Virtual and Augmented Reality

Virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR) will impact several corporate functions, among them recruitment, training and collaboration.

In terms of recruitment, companies spend $3.5k for every new hire they bring onboard. That’s around $72 billion in recruitment per year in the US alone. VR and AR will become important tools for HR operations. For example, VR will be useful for interviewing candidates. It will make it easier for candidates to get to know the company and for the recruiters to assess, in real time, the skills that the person is bringing onboard.

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In terms of training, US companies spent $164.2 billion on training and development in 2012. About 50% of those expenses arose from travel, facilities and equipment. VR will provide 3D scenarios in which employees can fully grasp the information and principles taught during a training module.

The bottom line here is that HR needs to redesign itself to become more tech savvy. By doing so, it’ll be able to better manage its resources, provide effective solutions and offer the best ROI to the company.

Personalization of Services

Some people are motivated and inspired to achieve different goals in life. Ultimately, we are all different and behave differently. Some want to be the best performers, some want to innovate, others want to collaborate and have strong personal relationships with their coworkers, while yet others want to become leaders.
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Accordingly, the way to approach each person’s needs and incentives can’t be the same. However, today’s workplace rules and policies apply equally for everyone, regardless of their differences. The reason is that it’s just too expensive to personalize services and perks based on an individual. Treating everyone the same might sound like it creates an egalitarian workplace, but it doesn’t.

That’s about to change.

Using HR technology (for example, robots, data management and AI), HR can truly understand individual employees and design services accordingly.

The Death of Performance Management (As We Know It)

The performance management (PM) approach, based on annual rating assessments, will eventually die out. The current approach to PM continues to be the big elephant in the HR room. Everybody knows that it doesn’t work, yet it still remains in place.

The current PM approach is demotivating and disengaging. It doesn’t tackle the issue of low performance, nor does it effectively reward high performance.

But a new approach is on the rise. It relies on the fundamental need of millennials and other recent generations to receive continuous and timely feedback. It’s an agile strategy — it’s a coaching and human development approach.

Future workplaces won’t be based on ratings or focused on assessing people’s performance once a year. Instead, modern companies and leaders want their people to unleash their creative potential, and they know that for that to happen the essential components are continuous coaching and feedback, and jobs that challenge people to develop their skills and talents.

HR will be a cornerstone in redirecting PM towards this coaching and human development approach.

The New Leadership Style

Finally, a new leadership style is emerging in innovative and forward-looking companies. This leadership style focuses on individual development, collaboration, innovation and the use of technology.

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HR has a huge responsibility to train the new cadre of up-and-coming leaders. HR needs to ensure that there is an effective workforce and to put in place succession planning so that there is a smooth transition from the baby-boomer leadership to the millennial generation.

By 2020, 75% of the workforce will be composed of millennials. Many companies are quickly getting ready for the transition between two dramatically different leadership styles (baby boomers vs. millennials), but most companies and HR groups are still unaware of the radical changes that will take place during this transition.

HR has to pick up the pace and get ready for the upheaval that will result, either intentionally or inadvertently, from this transition.

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Conclusions

The pressure on HR to become more strategic and innovation-oriented will continue to increase. That trend is unstoppable.

Today, there are many HR professionals who see their job as being “business as usual”. But the world is changing dramatically, and companies that want to stay relevant need to change too.

HR can be and must be a pioneering force in the transformation process that will create the workplace of the future.

And this will be impossible to accomplish without maximizing the use of HR technology, data management and cutting-edge innovation. The time of gut feelings, preconceptions and intuition in HR is long gone; today, relying on hard data provides a more accurate way to approach people and design the future workplace.


aaeaaqaaaaaaaagmaaaajdg1otk0ogyzltc5mtctngjlnc05yzc2ltnhmdq5nwfmzteynqEnrique Rubio is passionate about Human Resources, entrepreneurship, technology and innovation. He’s interested in the question “how to remain relevant in the time of intelligent machines”. His background in electronic engineering and HR helps him work in the fascinating intersection of technology and people.

Now Enrique is an HR Specialist at Inter-American Development Bank.