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Future of HR

A bright future lies ahead

A bright future lies ahead

When we invited our HR professionals to an immersive 72-hour conversation on the future of HR we were sure it would open our minds. I’m happy to say we weren’t disappointed!

In our new KPMG report – The Future of HR: In the Know or in the No – I share my view that today’s HR leaders have an unprecedented opportunity to convene how the world of work will take shape in the technologically enabled, interconnected environment that lies ahead.

That demands we occupy a more strategic role at the leadership table. Helping business leaders realize the value that can be created by embracing technology and emerging capabilities. But there’s also the need to convene an all-together different conversation. By reaching down into our HR teams to surface the innovation and fresh thinking that’s bubbling away.

The latter was the focus of our ‘People Jam’ last year when almost 1,000 of our HR professionals engaged in a conversation on the future of HR. When we analyzed the rich commentary, across almost 200 topics, a few themes emerged.

Be agile to a new future. As the scale and velocity of technological innovation expands, HR teams must be agile and respond quickly and strategically to change. But not at the expense of empathy for the human dimension. The power of AI, predictive analytics etc. isn’t possible without human insight, creativity and judgment.   

Don’t confine innovation to the lab. Because you’ll never realize the power of an organization. When it’s embedded in your culture, innovation drives continuous change. That’s hard in a hierarchical workplace where barriers inhibit the productive exchange of ideas. And it clashes with the expectations of the new generation entering the workforce. We were told: “innovation is everyone’s job, HR’s as much as anyone’s”. If organizations don’t listen they won’t adapt. And if they don’t adapt they won’t survive.

Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate. We (HR) can help exploit technology, including information-delivery tools and cross-functional collaboration platforms, to enhance workflow and productivity. But it’s not just about technology. We need to remember that it’s only when you bring diverse minds to a problem, using this technology, that the magic happens.

Hearts matter. I couldn’t have been prouder to see the discussion build around the importance of the ‘people experience’. The future of HR is as much about maintaining a human-centred approach to everything we do as it is about leveraging the power of technology. And that’s true for every aspect of HR – from L&D and onboarding to recruitment and talent management.  

HR is at the threshold of a new era. And no one knows that better than the emerging generation of HR leaders. I for one am excited about what lies ahead. And I’m going to do all I can to set that generation up for success.

Susan Ferrier is Global Head of People for KPMG International