Agile project structures, virtual teams and smart HR technologies: HR is changing, or rather, it is at a new beginning. Employees’ mindsets are changing, professional roles need redefining. With HR managers leading the way. But how do HR professionals manage the leap into the Future of Work era?
What is Future of Work?
Future of Work represents a fundamental change in the working world. Trends such as digitalization, globalization, global networking and demographic change are adding a fair amount of complexity to how we work: New skills are required, and businesses need to move away from traditional and inflexible work structures that are simply no longer up to the challenges of rapidly changing work environments.
How did the Future of Work idea come about?
Social philosopher Frithjof Bergmann developed the concept of New Work in the 1980s out of a desire to create an alternative to capitalism. He defined “freedom” as the central value of a new, flexible way of working that would help people to actualize themselves. Quelle: t3n
What Does Future of Work Look Like in HR?
Future of Work is not some vague vision of the future – it already defines the daily work of many modern companies. These companies have set themselves up with agile teams, are living flexible home office arrangements and work hand in hand with smart technologies.
But which trends and drivers of Future of Work have a particularly strong effect on HR routines – and how can HR professionals prepare themselves?
5 Powerful Trends and Drivers of Future of Work
Digitalization is one of the biggest drivers of Future of Work and is really stirring up worklife in HR. New technologies and artificial intelligence mean…
…changed job profiles. Because many activities can now be automated and are simply no longer required. At the same time, new jobs are created, such as the Social Media Manager a few years ago. This means: HR professionals and recruiters have to have a good feel for the competencies that businesses in the Future of Work era need to be successful.
…new ways of working and new processes: The days of meticulously updating Excel spreadsheets will be a thing of the past. Instead, data can now be kept in decentralized locations and processes organized digitally. This relieves HR managers and allows them to focus on more important Future of Work topics.
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2. Decentralized employees
Today, the whole world is interconnected: Ideas spread within seconds via the internet, travel is more convenient than ever, and cloud-based solutions facilitate data access from anywhere. As a result, more and more employees are location-independent when they work. Virtual teams are a normal part of Future of Work – and they, too, need to be coordinated, motivated, and acquainted with their company’s corporate culture.
3. Different generations
The last of the baby boomers, Generations X to Z and the millennials: There are currently more generations working together under one roof than ever before. They all have different tech skills and different ideas of what their ideal employer looks like. This means that HR professionals need to take a very close look:
- Which competencies do you already have and which have to be developed so that employees can work smoothly?
- How can employees of different generations work well together?
- What incentives do different generations need to stay motivated?
Employees have different priorities. Apart from the salary, we also negotiate components that can be flexible, like vacation days.
–Stefan Zimmermann, Head of HR & Organisational Development at OPED.
4. New attitudes toward work
We see younger generations’ attitudes towards work expressed in three ways:
Searching for meaning: While previously, work was purely an obligation and a means to an income, younger generations look for a deeper meaning in their job. Therefore, companies have to create a strong vision and communicate their culture and values to employees clearly.
Work methods and climate: Self-determined, creative and independent work methods have therefore also become increasingly important. Bye bye, micromanagement, hello, intrapreneurship! And a good working climate is crucial, too. HR can guide this through the possibilities and quality of teamwork, but also with plain practical things like office furnishings that enhance employee comfort.
Employees are getting picky: This has to do with a familiar topic: the skilled workers shortage. The lack of skilled personnel allows employees to have higher expectations of their employer. So, companies that don’t want to lose the best people to their competitors need to have something they can offer – occupational health management, for example, or special corporate benefits. A good corporate culture, in any case. And still, these are not enough; the key word is: Employer Branding. Do good things – and talk about it. Show why working for your company is worth it.
Provide an attractive employer package
Employees at medical device manufacturer OPED can choose what their employer package should look like – depending on how they are motivated.
- Flexible salary components
- Flexible working hours (e.g. flextime, home office)
- Additional vacation days
- HR analytics
- A choice of training and development opportunities
5. Agile collaboration
In times of Future of Work, our work environments are constantly changing. The usual structures and experiences no longer offer a reliable setting, which is why collaboration must also become faster, more adaptable, i.e. agile. “Agility should not be confused with flexibility; it requires a lot of discipline,” Stefan Zimmermann explains. “Agile teams are high-performing and have to collaborate methodically.”
This means that HR has to keep track of any possible requirements and the competency profiles of managers and employees. It also means that structures need to be built that facilitate agile work – such as targeted software support.
From HR Management to HR Development
Stepping into the world of Future of Work also means fundamentally changing the work of HR. And not just by HR professionals adapting to the changed conditions. Quite the contrary! In HR, you have the opportunity to take an active part in shaping the change. “HR professionals are increasingly becoming organizational developers too,” says HR expert Stefan Zimmermann, who clearly sees his own role in the “unfolding of employee potential.”
New HR Tasks in the Future of Work Era
It wasn’t always like this: “Until a few years go, the role of HR in many companies was purely administrative. Specific content on human resource topics, such as skill requirements, or how to develop new managers, was directed by company executives”, says Zimmermann. The new role of HR is, however, versatile, and in the context of New Work absolutely crucial to company success.
Today’s HR departments are experts for entirely new subject areas – from corporate culture over e-Recruitment to Employer Branding. As strategic partners of the company management, it is their job to develop a methodical process for the personnel future of the business. “In addition, HR managers have to become Change Managers, too, and actively guide and support employees and managers in their digitalized work environments,” says Stefan Zimmermann.
These HR Skills Go with the Megatrend Future of Work
As a consequence, the skill set of HR professionals has to change as well: Effective recruiting, efficient HR management and meaningful employee development – all this demands new skills that are far beyond administration.
“People in HR need to be able to implement and use tools that make their work easier, such as HR software and project management tools,” adds Katja Bauer, CHRO at executive recruiting agency i-Potentials. Project management and IT user skills are followed by basic competencies to get HR and the whole organization ready for the future.
Which HR Skills Are Required for Future of Work?
- Project management
- Computer literacy
- Analyses and evaluations of employee data
- In-depth expertise, e.g. in tech recruiting
- Strategic and methodical thinking
Of course, HR will continue to take care of a number of operational activities as well. But the attitude of HR professionals in the digital Future of Work era is important, says Zimmermann. “HR professionals have to adopt the mindset of organizational development managers. They have to think in methods.”