An HR lens on the future of work

What will HR look like in the next years? A host of new roles are likely to come on stream, says a new report which shows how different ways of working and technology are changing the way we work.

women leadership in tech

 

What will the future roles in HR consist of and how do they show what the future of work will be?

A new report by the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work and Future Workplace lists 21 HR jobs of the future and it makes interesting reading in several areas and shows the crucial role HR will play in the shape of how we work in the next decade, with technology changing some roles and creating new ones. It is based on brainstorming with HR and talent leaders.

Jeanne Meister, managing partner of Future Workplace and a co-author of the report, says: “Our clients are all HR leaders. They really need to know a lot more about the jobs that are coming down the pipe rather than worrying about the impact on jobs of automation. The path to the future of jobs goes through  CHROs’ [chief human resource officers] purview. Businesses need to look at their CHROs and their teams to know what the world of work will look like.”

Rob Brown from the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work told a recent podcast on the report that HR was the prime mover of business strategy.

The report looked at the impact of technology. Brown said a lot of new HR jobs will be affected by technology advances, but HR people will not require a computer science degree to do them so need not be afraid. An example of a new job affected by technology might be a human-machine teaming manager who manages teams which include robots and humans or an HR data detective.

Virtual reality or augmented reality will become more prominent, says Brown, spawning new HR jobs, such as  VR immersion counsellor. VR can help relieve the drudgery of back to back 2D zoom calls, for instance, he says, but could also mean new jobs related to the health and safety procedures of using VR equipment and getting it to people who are working from home.

Several other new roles will be needed to bridge the gap between humans and machines and different types of working, for instance, machines, full-time workers and gig workers. There are likely to be gig working managers and humans, in form perhaps of a chatbot and human facilitator, will need to be trained to coach bots and integrate them into the workforce, according to the report. That will free up humans to do higher level work such as strategic work. Key strategic roles include chief purpose planner, head of business behaviour, a future of work leader and a strategic HR business continuity director, vital in times of turbulence.

Other roles will focus on social networks, for instance, a human network analyst who can engage with potential and current employees on different social media platforms. A genetic diversity officer could deal with all the issues thrown up by developments in genetics science and a distraction prevention coach could work on ways to help people focus amid information overload.

Covid-19

The impact of Covid-19 can be seen in some of the new HR roles, with Covid having sped up changes in the workplace. Roles such as workplace environment architect and director of well being were likely to come on stream. Worker well being will have to be viewed in a holistic way, says Meister, encompassing emotional, physical and even spiritual elements.  “Leaders of companies have been doing well being communications and training during the pandemic. They realise that there is such a thing as Zoom fatigue,” she adds.

Meister says individual and organisational resilience will be key in the wake of Covid-19 and other disruption such as climate change for which a climate change response leader may be needed. Greater working from home – including permanent working from home or hybrid working – will also affect jobs with one new role being put forward being that of a work from home facilitator.

“Covid has accelerated everything we have been talking about for the last few years and has made it more complex and interesting. We need to talk about that now,” says Meister.

Other influences on new HR roles include Diversity and Inclusion.  Those roles could include a human bias auditor or an algorithm bias officer as the use of algorithms becomes more critical to business success and ensuring they don’t have built-in biases is a central issue. Other roles put forward by the report focus on the multigenerational workforce as people work longer. They include a second act coach for older workers, a university4life coordinator for lifelong learning and an employee enablement coach.

Brown says: “CHROs are at the vanguard of connecting strategy to execution. The report shows why they need an active seat at the table.”



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