The American Workforce is Becoming Nontraditional, How is HR Holding Up?

young employees

“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”

– Winston Churchill

Life is a constant change: this is an adage great philosophers have reiterated through the years. In the digital age we live in, it certainly holds true.

Research firm International Data Corporation predicts that at the end of 2018, worldwide spending on digital transformation technologies will hit more than $1 trillion.

Despite the quick acceleration of digital transformations, many Human Resource (HR) leaders still have a hard time operationalizing digital technologies. While tools such as Service Now HR are now available to upend and simplify HR operations, many teams still find themselves struggling to adjust to change.

In fact, a report by talent management firm Allegis Group entitled The New Meaning of Talent: Adapting to the Work and the Workforce of Tomorrow reveals that the obstacles to HR automation are very real. Almost 58% of HR decision-makers, for example, revealed that their organizations have not taken steps to identify areas for future automation and digitization. For this reason, many organizations still rely on outmoded models and processes, in a time of emerging technologies and transformative workforce demographics.

Automation does not exist to replace humans, yet resistance is still apparent. This can present a huge problem, especially as workplaces are becoming more diverse and nontraditional.

The Modern Nontraditional Workplace

modern, non-traditional workplace

Today’s workforce is not anymore a narrowly defined group of individuals. Many organizations are beginning to see a mobile, diverse, and even geographically dispersed collection of individuals.

What’s more, the gig economy, also referred to as the contingent workforce, has become a major talent sourcing disruptor in many industries. Freelancers are growing in number, and companies are scrambling to hire them for their affordability and ability to deliver projects of all types.

The sudden explosion of diverse talent and freelance workers, however, have created a serious HR problem. To respond to changes, the role of HR and the technology they use also needs to transform.

For a long time, HR tools and technology solely facilitated back office transactions. This old process helped the then simpler organizations ensure accuracy and consistency. It also worked to keep records for tasks like payroll, hiring, and time off management – essentially, it was designed to cater to the needs of a particular group in the organization: HR.

HR is no longer back office staff. They are now in the front office and on the front lines. HR responsibilities now encompass workforce alignment, and making sure employees are engaged and motivated, so they can help deliver their organization’s purpose and mission.

Fortunately, technology has also evolved to support HR in their new role.

Embracing the Shift to Digital: It’s Time

Digital transformation offers countless benefits for HR. It is not, in any way, trying to replace recruiters. Instead, the shift to digital can help HR handle low-value tasks that take time to accomplish. This way, HR teams can focus on higher-value activities.

To fully reap the benefit of automation opportunities, organizations need to embrace a systematic approach to zeroing in and prioritizing the areas that need automation and how workforce responsibilities can change to create the most value.

It’s true that technology provides remarkable value to HR. But, while good and humane public relations is just as important, we will always need the human element.

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