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Are You Ready for HR Disruption?

February 15, 2020

By Anthony Kaylin, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

From technology to employee and applicant expectation, HR is never going to be the same.  And depending on the administrations, additional costs and burdens will have to be accounted for, while working with a much smaller staff and budget.  An election is coming up again-2016 déjà vu it seems. Technology is moving so fast, and budgets cannot keep up.

So, what are the changes that HR needs to be making?  First, anxiety, anger, and aggression are now serious workplace problems.  According to the Gallup 2019 Global Emotions Report, 68% of Americans report being angry at least once a day.  With less resources to do the job, loss of knowledge funds as baby boomers retire at a record rate, and a growing sense of employee entitlement from the younger generations, HR has to practice mindfulness on a daily, if not at times, hourly pace.  Workplace violence is being reported at a higher rate, and this election could well replicate the emotions in the workplace during the 2016 election.  HR has to be more present to employees and try to reduce tensions and flareups. 

Next, Millennials and Gen Zs are more aggressive in their demands on employers than their parents.  According to the Randstad 2020 U.S. Compensation Insights survey, almost 60% percent of Gen Z workers and the same amount of Millennial workers have used a potential job offer to negotiate a higher salary with a current employer.  Just 48% of Gen X workers and about 30% of Baby Boomers said they’ve done the same.  Further, 55% of Gen Zs and Millennials have lied, telling a prospective employer they have another offer when they don’t, to aid negotiations.  And more importantly, applicant brand is not that important to the younger generation.  Ghosting an employer for a better paying job somewhere else is what about half of Gen Z and Millennial workers have done.

Further, employee activism is on the rise in a big way.  Amazon, Google, and other employers have experienced employee “revolts” against business decisions.  Edelman’s 2019 Trust Barometer found that 80% of U.S. employees see their employer as their most trusted partner for change, and almost 50% of Gen Zs, who are entering the workforce for the first time, want to work for a company that demonstrates social responsibility, transparency, and a shared sense of purpose.   Although a variety of employers have social programs in place, most for-profit employers and shareholders have expectations about profits, and if listed, so do the funds.  HR is going to have major difficulty managing expectations.    

Flexible workplaces has been discussed for many years from the sandwich generation to the Z generation.  The new workers have experienced their parent’s pains and want flexibility at work.  A  Kronos survey found that 26% of Gen Z respondents said they would work harder and stay longer at an organization that supported flexible schedules, and 33% would not tolerate a company that did not give them any control over their work schedule.   Can HR manage the expectations of senior leadership with the new workforce?

In addition, the workforce skill deficit will likely only increase as technology evolves and employee roles are required to keep up.  According to The World Economic Forum, by 2022, 54% of employees will require significant upskilling/reskilling because of these changes.  Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machines will take over routine everyday tasks.  Robotics will also be more prevalent.  Amazon warehouses are a great example of machine learning.   Costs of technology will decrease as more embrace the new technology.   HR will have to focus on training and career planning and lattices to provide transparent growth opportunities to new workforce and to identify succession planning.

HR is no different with this reskilling need. AI in both recruitment and benefit planning, among other HR departments within the organization, will require a new breed of HR.  In another study, while 74% of HR leaders see the value in AI and 70% recognize the need for workforce transformation, only 37% are confident in their own ability to transform according to the KPMG 2019 Future of HR report

Finally, HR cannot kid itself.  According to the KPMG report, 74% of HR executives believe that their HR function is seen as a core value driver by senior leadership. However, results from KPMG’s 2018 CEO Outlook survey paint a different picture: only 24% of responding CEOs rated their workforce and HR capabilities as “highly effective”.  If HR thinks that they are doing a great job, why are they still not getting a seat at the table?  ASE highly recommends that our members take the McLean HR Stakeholder Management Survey to have a hard look to ensure that reality is really reality.  Otherwise the future will not be kind.

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