The Future of [HR] Work in a Technology-Driven World

As a Human Resources (HR) leader in the tech space, I often find myself engaged in conversations where I’m asked to share my thoughts and opinions about what I think the Future of Work  (FoW) might look like for HR professionals in the post-pandemic technology-driven era.

I’ve shared some of these thoughts in disparate places. In brief or somewhat lengthy conversations with other career professionals, tech leaders, enthusiasts and HR consultants alike.  However, my recent participation in an HR Technology conference inspired me to pen down my thoughts concerning this subject matter in a bit more detail.

I’d like to start by first defining the term “The future of work”. The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), defines it as “a projection of how work, workers and the workplace will evolve in the years ahead”. Conversations around the FoW would be incomplete without discussions around the intersectionality between current/emerging technologies and work trends, and how these will help shape the workplaces of the future.

For HR professionals, the Future of Work speaks to and defines the Organisational Culture and Workplace Practices that will either emerge or gain increased and widespread acceptance in the corporate workplace in the coming months and years.  Some of these trends have already started to emerge – actively driven and supported by technology, with the most likely future scenarios being an increase in their adoption.

Talent Acquisition/Recruitment

The Talent Acquisition function will likely holistically embrace the digitalization of the full end to end Talent Acquisition process. Prior to the pandemic, few organisations were able and/or willing to facilitate recruitment using remote enabling technologies – with the exception of the first stage of online testing. Candidates were often required to physically attend interviews and assessment centres. Technologies had however existed for the last several years that enabled the execution of all stages of interviews as well as the administration of assessments centres virtually. The COVID-19 pandemic saw organisations being forced to adopt these technologies, thereby changing the culture around the hiring process. In the future, organisations will be significantly less likely to expend resources on transporting candidates across locations to physically attend recruitment activities, and more likely to embrace digital tools and resources in completing the hiring process.

New Hire Onboarding

Although virtual onboarding programs have existed and been commonplace in use in large organisations for several years – the pandemic introduced a new dimension to the new hire onboarding experience, with a significant number of new hires between 2020 and to date “resuming” their first day of work from home. This resulted in some organisations providing new hires with a “Home Office ” set up an allowance to enable them to purchase items for their work from home spaces. In the future, especially for fully remote or hybrid workspaces, the new hire on-boarding procedure might involve the delivery of Home Office equipment such as noise-cancelling headsets, high-speed fibre optic wi-fi installations, printers, ergonomic chairs, smart desks with built-in monitors and speakers, etc alongside company merchandise to help enable their efficiency at remote working. These costs could potentially replace current costs spent on running and maintaining office facilities across single or multiple locations.

Learning & Development (L & D)

My prediction for the L & D function is that there is likely to be a deepening of the online and virtual learning experiences.

During the pandemic, in-person classroom training and development activities were put to halt. This led to the increase in adoption of and subscription to online learning platforms, which saw an increase in their revenue within the period. We should expect to see online learning platforms and other technology companies invest R & D into gamification and Virtual Reality experiences as a method of delivering and facilitating learning interventions. I firmly believe, for example, that training courses and activities will take place in the Metaverse at some point in the not too distant future.

Employee Engagement

The pandemic saw the introduction of a number of employee engagement trends including Remote Working, the execution of virtual office events and increased emphasis on Employee Benefits & Wellness.

McKinsey estimates that 20 to 25% of workers in advanced economies will be able to work remotely for up to 3 -5 days a week. One lasting result of the pandemic will be increased levels of remote or hybrid working practices across organisations. HR teams will need to equip the workspaces of the future to better adapt to and facilitate hybrid work teams with members working from both within and outside the office environment. We are likely to see the introduction of technologies that provide a more realistic virtual meeting and collaboration experience. These technologies would also support the delivery of a better employee experience for virtual events such as monthly or quarterly town halls, team bonding activities, employee recognition etc.

We could also expect to see organisations embrace technology-enabled and driven benefit services and offering for employees that will enrich their work from home experience. E.g the provision of services such as laundry, cleaning, personal grooming, and meal delivery from vendors all solicited for and tracked via apps.

Finally, the pandemic lockdowns resulted in increased levels of mental health stress, and feelings of loneliness and isolation for millions of people across the world. This led to organisations investing increased resources in wellness programs in an attempt to help employees better manage stress generated from the effects of the pandemic. Many of these wellness interventions were offered virtually.

These employee engagement trends seem set to continue even as some offices begin to resume – albeit on a hybrid basis. As employers are keen to maintain employee engagement levels as many employees begin to re-adjust to yet another new normal after almost 2 years of working from home.

In summary, I believe that in the workplaces of the future, the Talent Acquisition, L & D, New Hire Onboarding and Employee Engagement HR functions, in particular, will see significant changes from what was previously obtained, and that most of these shifts will be driven, enabled and facilitated by tech tools.

About Weyinmi Barber

Weyinmi Barber is an HR Professional with experience across multiple industries. She has worked across the span of the Human Capital Value chain including in Talent Acquisition Strategy, Talent Management & Development, Change Management (is Prosci ADKAR Certified), Employee Engagement, Total Rewards & Remuneration, HR Projects & Internal Communication.

She is currently serving as an HR Leader in the Tech space; working to build progressive Talent Management strategies and Implementing organisational redesigns to enable tech companies to scale effectively.

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