In doing some reading about the workforce of the future I was reminded of this post I wrote in 2014. I think it is still very relevant.
In 2011 Thomas Frey wrote an article about Eight Critical Skills for the Future. He applied these to the world in general. It was an interesting article and naturally, I started thinking in terms of human resources. I have borrowed and expanded this list and specifically applied it to the HR department. Here are the nine critical skills for the future of HR.
Skill #1 Communication Management
According to a study by Experian, as reported in the BusinessInsider, U.S. smartphone owners aged 18 to 24 send 2,022 texts per month on average. That is 67 texts on a daily basis and receive another 1,831. This is the future of our workforce. As an HR department if you have not mastered communicating by text message you are and will continue to be, behind the curve. An unfortunate effect this is having on this age group is that they are tired, all the time because they sleep with their device and stay semi-aware in order to receive messages.
This presents HR with three problems. First is adapting to their method of communication. The second issue is tracking their time if they are conducting work this way. Thirdly the question is raised on how productive they are going to be if their sleep patterns are disrupted.
Skill #2 Reputation Management
People today are becoming continually aware of the idea of reputation management. Story after story shows how an error, a post, a tweet, a picture or a video can affect a person’s reputation. Sometimes this is a good thing and sometimes it is not. In HR we pay attention to this “reputation” by reviewing social media and conducting searches on candidates and sometimes even employees. The world is reacting to that by increasingly talking about privacy. Younger generations are even beginning to grasp the idea and are being more careful of what they put out on the Internet.
But that street goes both ways. More and more employees are also checking up on companies to see what their reputation is on the Internet. Sites like Glassdoor make it easy for candidates, and even employees, to both review and comment on how the company treats candidates and employees. That will not be changing other than to become more prevalent. Company reputation management will be a key skill for HR.
Skill #3 Privacy Management
I broached this slightly in the above paragraphs. It is a huge issue. People are learning to pay attention to their privacy, especially the younger generation. It is the older generations that pay less attention, generally because we can’t figure out how to change the settings. (Yes, I can take that shot at older folks, I am one and I know that is a true statement.)
What is causing many people privacy issues are the actions of companies with the information they have collected. In HR we have both the legal and moral obligation to protect the information of our employees and prospects. That job is not going to go away and will only get more regulated.
Skill # 4 Information Management
Frey talked in terms of the amount of information that people are being exposed to on a daily basis. I am talking in terms of the amount of information our employees are producing on a daily basis. Information is also knowledge and if your company is not capturing the knowledge that is produced on a daily basis then you are letting your competitive advantage walk out the door. HR needs to help insure, along with IT, that there is a knowledge retention system in place.
Skill #5 Opportunity Management
The youngest worker today may have 200 plus “jobs” before they exit the workplace. The move toward the use of independent contractors, as a prime method of getting things done, means that younger workers will always be on the hunt for new opportunities. It will be HR’s responsibility to learn how to position those opportunities to attract the needed talent, while working within the legal framework of employment laws.
Skill # 6 Technology Management
I have written so much on the topic of technology and HR. From software, BYOD, robots, drones, to wearables, HR is going to be hugely impacted by technology. All HR professionals should make studying technology a second job. Most HR departments would be smart to hire HR Technologists to be permanently on staff.
Skill # 7 Relationship Management
This is a broad subject and deserves more verbiage than I am going to give it here. It is important that people are still people. They have relationships outside of work that affect work. They have relationships that can benefit work. The size of an employee’s personal network can offer significant benefits to their employer. They have relationships with coworkers and managers that have, and will continue to, provide challenges to HR. Regardless of how numbers oriented we get it is important to remember HR is still in the people business.
Skill # 8 Risk Management
This was not in Frey’s original list, but was suggested by a commenter on the original post. Risk assessment is not paid enough attention to by HR. Often this is considered to be an insurance issue. I take a slightly different view and feel that risk assessment is not about today but it is about tomorrow. Of all these skills it is the one most future oriented in HR. The HR professional needs to be asking “What is happening out there that has the potential for disrupting what we do in this company?” If you find something study it and develop a story around it so you can share it with your executives. This is how HR becomes a strategic player.
Skill # 9 Legacy Management
To Frey this is about your personal legacy. I think that is important. How will you be remembered? But in the same vein HR also needs to be concerned with how the company will be remembered and that can be a challenge.
Frey had a couple of final thoughts that included time management and money management. Neither is a new idea, but both of them will be radically altered by technology and the global nature of our world today. Both deserve some consideration.
As you can see I have given HR a hefty plate of responsibility for the future. I think it is time we step up and take that responsibility on.
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