The Future of HR – Trends and Forces Re-shaping the Profession and the Role of the CHRO [Session Summary]


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The following article is a short summary of a presentation by Romina Morandini, VP HR EMEA of Bunge at The CHRO Virtual Summit 2018.

As the wider business, economic, social, and political worlds evolve and intermix, it should be no surprise to anyone that HR as a profession and the role of the CHRO are being re-shaped. Romina Morandini, the VP of HR EMEA at Bunge presented a short overview of the global trends impacting HR, particularly in three areas; speed of change, demographics, and connectivity.

1. Speed, agility and anticipation

As organizations begin to move towards flatter, leaner and less-bureaucratic operational models, HR leaders have a unique leadership position that enables them to set key principles of agility. Morandini suggests that the HR department should therefore model itself as a disruptive department now that it has a fantastic ally in technologies. To get to a position of effective agility, HR has to be fundamentally willing to make errors and correct them in real time, in the same way that any project based on agile methodologies would be. Being more agile enables HR to respond to organizational needs and give feedback to all parties in real time. Prototyping is also essential – failures can be more quickly forgotten, lessons learned faster, and positive changes adapted in shorter, less resource intensive cycles.

This focus on speed and agility also feeds back into the wider knowledge economy and ‘gig’ economy model that’s prevalent at present. It provides HR and the business with a level of contingency that it would not otherwise have been afforded. Despite the gig economy’s shortcomings, with the right mindsets and technology, HR can still address the needs of all significant contributors and ensure processes are embedded into the organization, so that all employees are given the support they need to succeed.

2. Demographics and the employee life-cycle

As healthcare and living standards rise throughout much of the world, it’s clear that working lives will generally be longer. People will be able to work effectively for more years than previously possible, and therefore HR must adapt to a host of challenges. Shorter employment tenures are becoming more common, and succession needs are quickening. Along with demographic changes and evolving career models, there are now more entrepreneurs and freelancers than ever before. Multinational careers and employee mobility models are changing – not only because of international mobility, but that distributed work is now a real possibility for many professionals.

As populations age, Morandini suggests that reverse coaching may also become a more important element of the employee environment, as will the prevalence of double career families. In terms of diversity and inclusion, Morandini suggests that HR should be careful and focus on creating well structured, lasting changes – as meaningful change will come from culture shifts where skills shortages are de facto open to all qualified employees. In summation, HR leaders will need to be aware of how to manage these changes and the subsequent individual strategies required to optimize their workforce composition – potentially through increasing investment into analytics functions.

3. Connectivity and flow

Morandini suggests that HR will be transformed towards a function that operates under a project management model – as will the entire organization. In this way, HR will be involved in structuring research by means of data-driven, iterative projects that solve business problems. For this emerging model, it will therefore be essential that HR professions focus on continuous upskilling, not only for themselves, but for all employees in the organization. As technologies and business models evolve, it’s simply crucial to facilitate the flow of information and have employees aligned clearly with the goals and ambitions of the organization. As a final cautionary note, Morandini says HR should be wary of becoming over-reliant on technology, as the human touch is still the most important means of driving business success. She concludes that technology will be driving the fundamental changes in how employee experience and personalisation practices take place, but that technology after all is just an enabler, not a replacement.

Of course, the future of HR has yet to be written, but anyone who is interested in the evolution of the profession should be cognizant of some of the emerging trends and practices today. As the role of the CHRO becomes more and more blended with business leadership, HR as we know it will likely not exist too much further into the future. The potential for HR leaders to really become a crucial cog in organizational growth and evolution is near; new technologies, agile methodologies, demographic shifts, and wider economic changes aren’t simply going to wait for around for HR!

If you missed Romina’s presentation (or indeed any others), you can sign up on The CHRO Virtual Summit website for free and view it until June 30th!


The 3rd HR Congress Brussels, November 27-28 will feature a selection of sessions that will explore this topic and much more! Make sure you follow The HR Congress Blog and #HRCongress18 to stay posted on all the latest news, updates and content from the world of work!

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