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From Digital HR to Human Capital Management – How HR has evolved

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Human resources (HR) is evolving fast. Right now, talent – how to find it, how to keep it and, how to build on it – has become the biggest challenge facing HR professionals today. A core challenge is that a “job for life” is no longer what people aim for. Employees are willing to chase opportunities and workplace culture across the globe – right now there are 95,000 skilled migrants in Australia for this very reason – meaning HR teams must be nimble and competitive to find and keep the right people for their organisations.

Understanding how HR has changed, including the new demands placed on HR professionals, is critical to effective people management. Let’s take a look at the key changes in HR over the last 10 years:

Employees expect a lot more

In a bid to keep talent high, employers are increasingly finding themselves trying to satisfy growing employee expectations. It’s no longer about meeting holiday entitlement and salary demands, it’s also about the operational technology and tools available within your business – employees want it all. The “issue” is that living in an “always on, always connected” world brings with it the requirement for immediate access to information alongside demands for intuitive design and great user experience. Known as the consumerisation of technology, this trend reflects how we expect a similar user experience whether at home or at work, and it’s up to HR to deliver.

Employees are more diverse

Talent acquisition and retention are further complicated by the significant changes to the modern workforce. For the first time, we are seeing three to four generations working under the same roof. According to Deloitte, millennials will comprise nearly 75% of the workforce by 2025. This significantly changes the approach to staff retention, as employee expectations vary immensely across the age groups. To attract the best employees, companies must take note of the changing and varied outlooks of their staff and deliver accordingly.

More value is placed on company culture

Employees no longer look at profit announcements or the financial success of an organisation as the only metrics for determining their next workplace. Thanks to LinkedIn, Glassdoor and other social media sites, workplace culture has become transparent. Therefore, the values and mission of an organisation have become important elements in attracting and retaining talent. Flexible working, alongside salary, are often factors as to whether an applicant takes a job because it’s a good indicator of company culture. As a result, we’ve seen everyone from large technology companies like Google and Facebook to niche start-ups across Australia, offering flexible locations, hours and open plan offices to staff.

Digital HR has become the norm

Digital HR is here to stay, putting technology at the heart of HR strategies. Companies have invested hugely in integrated, cloud-based, core HR systems to support their digital HR strategies. Cloud-based technologies have allowed HR teams to become more efficient via intuitive design principles and increased mobility. Cloud enables organisations to re-engineer processes to be more efficient and increase employee engagement. Beyond cloud are innovations, albeit still in infancy, such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and augmented and virtual reality that will further change the dynamics of the workplace.

There is huge demand for flexibility

A flexible and open mindset is critical to HR professionals today, particularly as we see an increasing call for new ways of working. It’s up to HR to enable this through the right approach to technology and processes, in addition to educating senior stakeholders on the benefits of remote working on staff morale and productivity. This means that HR teams must make their organisation as attractive as possible with the implementation of “perks” like flexible working, or they risk losing employees to the competition.

Employee experience is key

Forming part of digital HR strategies and in response to the increasing demands of employees, HR practices have evolved to focus on delivering great employee experience. HR is no longer purely focused on operations – ensuring people are hired, paid and so on. Instead, HR has become more strategic and now includes the development of talent management portals, improving productivity, aiding collaboration and focusing on developing company culture.

Training initiatives are evolving

The implementation of training across an organisation is also changing. Online learning is already prevalent in workplaces, and over the next 5 – 10 years this will extend to include augmented or virtual reality and social collaboration. Looking forward, with the rise of the contingent workforce and the increase in contractors, individuals will need to take more responsibility for their own learning and development. HR will instead be responsible for providing the right tools or platforms to enable staff to learn.

In today’s competitive market, strategic HR operations have never been more important to organisations. Technology now plays a huge role in disrupting how organisations work – inviting improvements, increasing transparency and enhancing the employee experience, all of which directly impact engagement. As people move faster and the workplace becomes more globalised, HR teams are working harder to engage employees, attract and retain talent, and ultimately foster a positive culture all-round.

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