Redefining HR for 2020 and beyond

Not only is a new year upon us but also a new decade, and our world is propelling us forward to reach new heights in business, talent, and social awareness. On the first full week of the new year, I would like to share some Progressive HR visions with you from influencers across Wisconsin. It was a pleasure to collaborate with each of my contributors.

Impact skills will lead, and your ‘boss’ may be a robot

Derek Deprey, director of people, Wisconsin Athletic Club

“According to the 2018 McKinsey Global Institute Workforce Skills Executive Survey, between 2016 and 2030, demand for social and emotional skills will grow across all industries by 26 percent in the United States.

“In 2020, we need to stop calling these skills ‘soft skills’ or ‘non-cognitive skills,’ as this implies that they are easy and don’t need to be a priority. Let’s call them ‘impact skills.’ Leadership development must be explored and utilized more than ever to ensure the focus is on impact skills and that the leadership lid of people stays above bots. You’ll survive if you are an engaging, compassionate, and inspiring people-leader. However, average and below average ‘managers’ will be replaced by robo-bosses who will save the day for the two-thirds of employees who are miserable at work due to poor management.

“What is a robo-boss? A manager that runs on code, such as your computer, phone, or Alexa, and is capable of doing many tasks and processes that managers have always done. Don’t believe me? According to Oracle and research firm Future Workplace, 93 percent of workers would trust orders from a robot.

“The future of leadership, however, is not robots or people. Instead, the future of leadership is smarter people because of the collaboration of people and robots, and the use of AI to build our impact skills and empower our employees and workers.

“AI must have a seat at the table. With the help of AI, employees will become accountable to each other in a flattened organizational structure. Leaders will become the true coaches and mentors that we’ve always wanted. By the end of the new decade, leaders might even be freed to solve real-world problems, like curing disease, minimizing poverty, and solving world hunger.”

DEI is the forefront of business strategy

Kingsley Gobourne, diversity, equity, and inclusion coordinator, UnityPoint Health-Meriter

“It’s no secret that the demographics of the U.S. workforce are changing. Based on U.S. Census data, since 1980 the white workforce has declined from 82 percent to 63 percent, while the minority workforce has doubled from 18 percent to 37 percent. In a time of low unemployment, if you have any expectation of hiring and retaining an effective workforce, it will be critical to have a robust diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) plan to ensure your workplace is a welcoming, inclusive environment that truly creates a sense of belonging for all.

“A strong DEI strategy considers more than just typical HR functions around recruitment and engagement. To be truly successful, your DEI strategy needs go beyond recruitment, to encompass and reflect your environment and your customers.

“As well, to keep DEI initiatives at the forefront and moving forward, many organizations should move to creating DEI roles within their organization to help build and lead their organization’s long-term strategy. In fact, data from Indeed recently reported that DEI-related job postings were up 25 percent just from 2018 to 2019. This trend continues into the next decade and beyond.

“Those organizations that holistically embrace DEI in 2020 will be the same companies we see succeed throughout the new decade. According to a 2015 McKinsey report that looked at 366 companies throughout the Americas and the United Kingdom, there’s a strong correlation between diversity and profitability. In fact, companies in the top quarter for racial/ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to do better financially than their peers, and those with more gender diversity were 15 percent more profitable.”

We will invest in our under-recognized talents pools to gain advantage

Leia Ferrari, talent placement manager, i.c.stars|*Milwaukee

“In 2020, Wisconsin employers have a huge opportunity to tap into ‘our own’ when it comes to talent attraction and retention. Apprenticeship is the name of the game.

“In 1911, Wisconsin was actually the first state in the union to adopt legislation around apprenticeship. One hundred-plus years later, it’s time for companies in the tech sector to adopt apprenticeship as a means of growing their own highly skilled employees in this rapidly growing field.

“The structured on-the-job training of apprenticeships makes high-paying jobs accessible to individuals who lack the resources to attend college. Offering a practical work experience in-house — at a subsidized cost to employers, thanks to tax credits — leads to technicians who have experience in a specific employer’s line of work, making their workforce contributions even more valuable. According to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, for every dollar spent on training an apprentice, employers earn $1.50 back. Talk about positive ROI!

“As the student-debt crisis looms and tuition prices continue to rise, it makes sense for employers to remove degree requirements in favor of practical work experience. In 2020, I encourage employers in Wisconsin to leave degree requirements in the past. Instead, consider developing apprenticeship programs to invest in talent — this makes your talent acquisition strategy more inclusive and accessible, a win for all jobseekers in the state.”

Agile adaptation or agile adoption?

Chad Beier, organizational agility advisor,

“As we enter the roaring ’20s of agility, many organizations continue to focus on transforming and adopting ‘agile things’ outside of DevOps. Nonetheless, most agile transformations and adoptions tend to change vocabulary used in the organization without significant changes to structure and processes. The 13th Annual State of Agile report finds that 78 percent of respondents state that ‘not all of their company’s teams have adopted agile practices,’ leaving room for vast improvement in the level of agility organizations can realize.

“The report continues: ‘Organization cultural issues remain the leading impediments to adopting and scaling agile. General resistance to change and our defaults of yesteryear, inadequate management support and sponsorship, and organizational culture that is at odds with agile values rank as the top three challenges.’

“The phrase often communicated to executives is ‘you must be agile to survive.’ While there is certainly truth in the phrase, survivability exists on a timeline. Many will continue starting adoptions and transformations over and over again for the next few decades, chasing an end state of agility that may not exist since the world is adapting around us faster than we can keep up.

“Trending into 2020, my advice is to look inward at your organizational structure and processes — management layers, incentives, information flow, and decision making — and ask some questions. How responsive are we today? How adaptive are we to change our organizational structure and processes? If the answer isn’t acceptable for your context — customers and industry — then get help to increase your adaptiveness vs chasing a prescribed agile transformation or agile adoption.”

People over everything!

Laura Kiley, vice president and recruiter, Somethingnew LLC

“From applicant tracking software and a ‘numbers game,’ the hiring process has become cold and non-people-centric, giving the talent acquisition industry and recruiters an even worse reputation. Candidates are noticeably pushing back, and demanding companies return to being people-centric and place a renewed emphasis on their employees.

“It shouldn’t be a surprise that the lack of focus on people has placed companies in distress and forced them into talent shortages and financial hardships. The 2019 New York Times Business Roundtable, a summit that brings together a group of almost 200 CEOs from top-tier brands, revised its mission statement for the first time ever, stating that companies must focus on employees, as well as customers, suppliers, and the communities in which they operate.

“Smart leaders have already set the intention and made the proper investments in making real connections with their talent pools. These proactive and innovative companies are ahead of the game in winning the war for talent.

“People over everything is a trend that will take precedence in 2020, one that CEOs and HR/recruiting cannot afford to ignore and must intentionally lead with. Companies are no longer valued by their products and fancy technologies, they are valued with indefinable assets such as brand value, intellectual property, and their people.”

Redefining work leads to value creation in job redesign through the decade

Lastly, a vision of my own:

Eighty-five percent of the jobs we will be doing in 2030 do not even exsist yet. So how can we be sure that the “reskilling” we are investing in today will lead to the right skills we need for the jobs of the near future?

The demand for purpose-driven work, automation, our growing diverse and inclusive workforce, and other factors make job redesign critical to ensure our organizations prepare for this new decade. But before we work to redesign jobs, we should reflect on redefining work.

Leaders who embrace AI, blockchain, augmented reality, and other emerging technologies will look at how they can free up capacity to enable work to be ultimately redefined and more flexible, and chart new pathways for our workforce to learn within the flow of work.

Future-proofing jobs means shifting our work defaults from task execution to the focus on identifying and addressing problems and opportunities (i.e., less time being busy and more time for what matters). Start by considering what tasks can be automated, eliminated, or disrupted, then redesign the work that creates value and meaning for everyone into the next decade.

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