Study These 5 Areas to Prepare for the Future of Work

Future of Work

Despite all the talk of digital transformation and the dynamic workforce, Gartner says only 9 percent of CHROs believe their companies are prepared for the future of work.

To prepare for “this next phase” of work, companies must plan for and leverage the changes in the way work will get done over the next decade, said Brian Kropp, chief of research for Gartner’s HR practice. Those changes, he believes, will be influenced not just by technology shifts, but by social and generational trends, as well.

HR leaders can get themselves into trouble if they take too narrow a view of their organization. Rather than look only at different aspects of work—such as AI, the gig economy and the multigenerational workforce—in silos, “HR leaders should focus on the big picture of what the future of work can and should look like in their organization,” Kropp said.

Of course, Gartner has a plan. The research firm’s identified five areas that HR leaders should study as the workplace evolves.

Despite all the talk of transformation and the workforce, Gartner says only 9 percent of CHROs believe their companies are prepared for the future of work. Here's their 5 tips. #HR #HRTech @Gartner_inc Click To Tweet

AI Ethics

Gartner says 75 percent of organizations are “dramatically” increasing their investment in analytics, and the fastest-growing budget line items in HR are related to talent analytics. As their reliance on data spreads, HR leaders are thinking more about how they can collect, and use, information in an ethical way. Going forward, Gartner says HR must drive a strategy on the ethical use of AI and analytics “that trains leaders on real-world employee data misuse and builds roles focused on data and AI decision ethics.”

Skills Development 

Most CHROs—73 percent—say one of their top priorities is building critical skills and competencies. At the same time, the skill sets they need are changing significantly: Some two-thirds of job postings had more than 25 percent skills change over the last dive years. And while on-the-job training is the leading method of helping workers develop their digital skills, 47 percent of OJT opportunities may be automated and eliminated by AI, Gartner said.

To address this, Gartner recommends audit their learning strategies to understand how much they depend on on-the-job training. Once that’s done, HR and Learning functions must “reimagine” their approach to skills development so they leverage new technology while still providing employees opportunities to develop.

Internal Transparency

The idea that sites like Glassdoor gives people a clearer view into an employer’s workplace and culture isn’t new. Sixty percent of candidates say they’re well-informed about an employer before they apply for a job. On the other hand, Gartner said, 71 percent of current employees believe their company should increase transparency. That means HR must have a strategy for pushing the organization that goes further in opening the curtains than it does now, and specifically educate managers on how to operate in a more transparent environment.

Revamping the Manager’s Role 

In 2010, the average company spent $471 per manager on training, Gartner said. That equals about $5,000 per manager over the last 10 years. That doesn’t seem like a lot of money, but you het what you pay for: Gartner said those 10 years of training “achieved zero net improvement in the effectiveness of managers.” Looking ahead, Gartner expects more than two-thirds of what managers do—things like approving expenses, reviewing project status and onboarding new employees—to be automated by 2024.

That means the role of manager requires a significant overhaul. Gartner suggests HR leaders focusing on which management tasks should be automated, establishing new expectations for managers and designing career paths that offer growth with fewer management opportunities.

Using AI to Build the Labor Market

More than nine out of 10 companies report making significant investments in over the last couple of years, Gartner said. Seventy percent of CHROs expect that AI will begin replacing jobs in their organization within the next three years. At the same time, Gartner expects advanced technology will “enable access to jobs for people who have not historically had access.”

It feels like Gartner’s mixing apples and oranges here. It recommends that HR audit systems and practices to uncover “potential barriers to success” for these new workers. Then, organizations should implement technology that will allow the “new entrants to the labor market” to work.  

We’re not sure what Gartner’s getting at here: It sounds as if it’s saying AI will eliminate the need for some kinds of workers while opening up jobs for a different sort. It may be the two aren’t all that closely linked, however. No one argues that AI will transform the way specific tasks get done, or that it will open up opportunities for workers who’ve traditionally been unable to gain employment. HR’s real challenge here is to understand how the dynamics of its overall workforce is changing and to understand how the organization’s overall technology strategy supports employees as they do their best work.

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