The rise of digitisation in organisations over the last decade has transformed the way people work, from their working patterns and location to their roles. As the workforce begins to transition from human to hybrid, as people increasingly work alongside Artificial Intelligence (AI), automation and robotics, what does this mean for HR? It too will have to change to meet employees’ wants and needs in this new digital era.
Capita People Solutions’ white paper Human to Hybrid: The Next Workforce Frontier reveals the thoughts of more than 2,000 employees and 500 business leaders in the UK. It explains how employees feel about the transition from a human to a hybrid workplace and, because of this change, how HR will transform to accommodate the future workforce across the employee lifecycle.
Why HR must evolve
Our culture and the way people live have changed dramatically even within the last five years, as our lives have become intertwined with technology. This has permeated work during a new era for organisations of employees working alongside technological innovation. Roles, learning and skills will transform and with this so will employees’ needs and expectations. With change continuously on the horizon, due to the rapid rate of technological innovation, HR must become an agile and technologically-astute function. It must be one that can evolve and adapt alongside the changing world around it so that it can support people across the entire employee lifecycle.
Technology can eliminate the manual and repetitive administrative tasks that have gradually encroached on what HR was originally created for: to manage the employee experience. Our research found that 82% of business leaders think that HR’s role needs to change to accommodate the modern-day workforce’s ever-changing requirements. By utilising technology to carry out simple yet time-consuming tasks, HR professionals will have the opportunity to go back to that original role.
Creating a culture of change and learnability
The hybrid workforce must be an agile one, as working alongside ever-evolving technology means employees will never cease to learn and gain new skills as their roles constantly redefine themselves. Organisations must capture learnability - the ability to adapt and respond to changing business needs by proactively developing oneself to remain productive - in their culture and embed it throughout their business. The hybrid workforce is agile and innovative, and HR must be too, evolving and learning alongside technology and sending this message out to the organisation.
Technology will enhance, not usurp, HR
Automation, robots and AI can take on labour-intensive responsibilities, freeing HR teams to focus on projects that provide organisational value and enhance employees’ work lives, development and wellbeing. HR’s human elements have always been fundamental, and our findings show that employees, even though they want organisations to digitise certain processes such as the ability to control their own L&D programme (81%), believe that human interaction cannot be replaced by a machine or robot. They want human contact during interviews (75%), line management (74%) and performance reviews and appraisals (71%). This shows that human touch-points are necessary throughout the employee lifecycle.
Contrary to scaremongering media articles predicting that machines will remove humans from their roles, technology is joining HR back to its workforce, giving it the tools and time to attract, retain, develop and reward people, to improve retention and productivity.
The changing yet familiar face of HR
The face of HR will change, but back to the familiar one we once knew, with employee engagement and management firmly at its centre. Enabled by the hybrid workplace, HR appears to be going full circle, as technology supports HR teams to become more focused on high-value work. They are needed to manage continual change and create an agile culture where continual learning, development and evolution become second nature.