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August 12, 2015

Could there be a dawning of a new age for HR?

Ian's Morning Musing image

I recently co-authored a short article with Ray Johnston, which appears in the Canadian HR Reporter’s spring/summer issue of their ‘Canadian HR Strategy’ magazine. Our thoughts were based upon the Focus 2040 student competition that SCNetwork has been running annually with the DeGroote School of Business. In the article, we captured some high level observations of the HR challenges that organizations should be thinking about, and in some cases, addressing today. We remarked that “robotics, artificial intelligence and drones will be leveraged, as will other technologies, so finding the right balance between technology and person-to-person contact will be key.” Let me emphasize the word “balance” in the last sentence.

This past Saturday, my wife and I attended the wedding of a daughter of a close friend. Our friend is a school teacher, and, at the reception, we were seated with a number of her professional colleagues. At one point, we discussed the merits and quality of our current educational system, and I was introduced to the term STEM. I was informed that it was an interdisciplinary and applied approach to integrating science, technology, engineering and mathematics. As I understood it, the disciplines are intertwined, using a case study methodology, and I was reminded that tomorrow’s employees will be bringing broad levels of intelligence that will continue to shake up the status-quo in most organizations. It also sounded somewhat similar to holacratic organizations where individual employees take on a broad array of cross disciplined tasks to get work done.

But we know this already, right?

Dawn of new HR eraTechnological advancements are transforming industries. Think Uber. How long will it be before Google cars are safer and faster than human drivers? How long will it be before computers will be better decision-makers based on a combination of algorithms, past precedents and/or test case methodologies? Perhaps we should believe that Silicon Valley will provide all the answers. Forty years ago we predicted four day workweeks and more leisure time. How wrong we were. Yet technology continues to transform companies, and, in some industries, is reducing the number of jobs. Where will it end?

In previous musings, I’ve referenced the changing nature of work and the advent of the “free agent.” Look at some of the very sophisticated recruitment engines many larger employers have built. Consider the screening tools already being leveraged. Understand the importance of the brand imagery that is being developed. Finding the best talent in a free agent society will separate winners from losers. HR is using technology to gain competitive advantage. If we think more broadly, is it possible we are at the dawning of a golden age for HR? We have a cross-enterprise perspective and broad functional capabilities, so what is holding us back from setting ourselves up at the intersection of great talent and technologies that get work done? Is it within the realm of possibility, but more importantly, does HR have what it takes to seize that pivotal mantle?

What do you think?
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Ian Hendry headshoptIan Hendry is the president of the Strategic Capability Network. In his Morning Musings, he provides insight on issues facing today’s business leaders and looks at subject matter related to upcoming SCNetwork events. He is also VP HR & Administration at Interac Assocation.


Filed under: morning musing, world of work Tagged: morning musing, world of work
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