A Low-Hype Guide to a Some of 2018’s Digital HR Trends

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Far from being an exhaustive and exclusive list of Digital HR trends to look out for in 2018, take this summary as a brief introduction into the vast changes and challenges rolling out across the wider HR landscape.

  1. “Digital Culture”

According to a recent study by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte, digital transformation has now reached a stage where technologies are not only limited to separate channels or divisions, but are used across the organization to support the development of a specific cultural strategy. This strategy emphasizes the need to nurture an environment that prioritises; a desire for experimentation, values soft skills for leaders, invests in talent, and takes appropriate risks. Technical prowess is of course required in any transformation (HR is no exception), but it means very little without creating the right ecology for everything to fit within. The potential flaw in over-estimating the need for a digital strategy that focuses on high-tech advancements and sophisticated multi-division organizations is evident; digital disruption is already here – but do you have the right people on board to navigate it as it becomes even more complex?

  1. AI / Robotics / Cognitive Technologies

We’ve all heard the stories about how AI, robotics and advanced cognitive technologies are going to irrevocably change the workplace (on this note: does anyone think zero human interaction is actually a good thing?). Without any exaggeration, many types of employment and services will become automated or at the very least, become significantly altered by technologies as they mature. Many people processes are going to have to be carefully re-formulated. However, this gives HR a mandate to put its mark on the future of work, entrusting it with an ethical, social and financial imperative to construct the processes that manage people programs.

  1. Organization re-imagined

HR will stand at the vanguard of contemporary explorations into organizational re-design. HR professionals must be the leaders in developing and synthesizing newly structured teams and people networks that re-frame the workplace. Agility is key; and building agility into the HR organization is a critical step. To keep on top of exceptional technological and organizational change, HR must also change or risk turning a relic of the past. To do this, HR must invest in itself, finding those people with the skills, mindsets and critical awareness to capture the benefits of the ‘being digital’. If the organization is going to be more agile, how will HR evolve to embody this ideal and create value?

  1. What does the science say? No, but really – what does the science say?

It will be a surprise to nobody that the HR profession has seen a huge upswing in interest regarding HR Analytics and evidence based HR in recent years. But beyond all the hype that data is the great savior; the scientific process itself remains a distinctly un-romantic toil. You define, you measure and you analyze, it’s not magic, and should not be seen as a total panacea for any business – let alone HR. However, when the frame of “what does the science say” is ultimately embedded in the mindset of all HR professionals, it becomes an exceptional tool. Organizations now must learn to embed not only a process of scientific excellence in their teams, but foster an environment where evidence-based decision making is a conscious part of HR’s operational scope in its emergent digital era.

  1. Mobile Technologies

Mobile is here to stay (at least for now) and has become already a significant factor in the personal and professional lives of many people. Organizations must be aware of the transformative power that hand-held devices contain. HR programs must be designed to incorporate the inherent strengths of mobile technologies, from building platforms for talent acquisition, right through the whole employee lifecycle. Not only do mobile platforms potentially universalize touch points between employees, between employee and the business, and between businesses and the wider world, but the implications for transparency and instantaneous communication effectively shatters many pre-existing rules. HR must not only deeply understand this risk/reward dualism, but act decisively to grasp the strategic imperatives for the organization and turn them to the advantage of all stakeholders – and most importantly, the employees.

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