“The best way to predict your future is to create it.” – Peter Drucker.
It’s a provocative statement: instead of waiting for the future to arrive, take a role in shaping it. (After all, once it’s here, it’s no longer the future.) Let’s consider this idea in the context of the role of human resources (HR) in today’s organization. The transformation of organizations’ digital capabilities will (if it hasn’t already) radically revolutionize how HR stewards organizations across a number of areas.
This shift is raising some important questions – questions that need to be answered in order for HR to lead into the future, rather than follow in its wake, including:
- How might technology empower higher-touch experiences between the organization and its talent? Employees are looking for a consumer-grade experience from their employers, and more organizations are answering the call – leveraging technology – and redefining the overall talent (not just employee) value proposition. At the same time, employees are better connected to each other through technology – things such as instant message, web meetings, text message, social media and talent profiles. Digitalization has opened the lines of communication in an unprecedented way.
- How might technology change the operating model and value systems across the enterprise? Consider how work is done today (e.g., an employee calls a service center to get answers to a benefits-related question). Now think about how the nature of work is changing and how routine, cognitive tasks will continue to become more automated (e.g., an employee engages with a chatbot that doesn’t just search a document for answers, but actually searches multiple resources and learns how to anticipate questions and answer in a more conversational way). This will result in changes to the HR operating model and shift roles of the employee and leader. In fact, according to Willis Towers Watson’s 2017/2018 Global Future of Work Survey, nearly two-thirds of employers expect leader and manager activities to change over the next three years with increased digitalization.
- How far is HR willing to go and what does this mean for the future of our profession? This is the million dollar question. How far, how fast and how much risk are we willing to take? HR functions have started to take actions to prepare for organizational change, but break-through approaches are needed in critical talent and reward areas as a result of digitalization and automation.
These aren’t questions to be answered quickly or taken lightly. But, it’s critical to address them. In the month since Willis Towers Watson announced our partnership with Silicon Valley innovator Plug and Play and the launch of Enterprise 2.0, we’ve seen more than 30 start-up presentations that aim to tackle these questions.
In speaking with some of the start-up founders, we’re learning that their solutions are just that: a start. Many of the companies have a longer-term roadmap, kick-starting their solutions with quick wins and the flexibility to collaborate with organizations on testing and evolving solutions. We’re enthusiastic about how our partnership with Plug and Play will enable us to discover, curate and deliver focused solutions that will change the talent experience and pave the path for the future of work.
What does the future hold?
We don’t have a crystal ball, but we can tell you this: It’s not likely to be as overwhelming or scary as it might seem. As a next step, consider joining our upcoming webcast, The Future of Work is Here: Leading Change and Reinventing Jobs in a Digital World, on Friday, May 4, at 11:00 a.m. ET/4:00 p.m. GMT.
Remember, if the future is here, it’s no longer the future. Let’s continue the conversation and shape what’s to come.
Jennifer Miller is a senior consultant in the Talent line of business at Willis Towers Watson.