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The future of work is now – HR must catch up

Published on: 2 Nov 2017



Work has evolved dramatically over the past few years, with new technology and digital innovation disrupting the way we do business and changing the way we operate within organisations. Data and algorithms are now capable of making better and less biased decisions than human beings, while artificial intelligence is able to learn and provide a better customer experience than many of our employees.

Smartphones and apps have already ‘gigified’ many industries - from food delivery to house cleaning and taxi driving. The omnipresence of social media has created an always-online society in which employees and customers expect to get what they need here and now. Bad employers are named and shamed not only by the press, but also online by their own employees - anything short of great is now no good at all.

HR no longer has a choice: writing policy after policy or coming up with new tick-box processes is just not good enough. The world has moved on, and we need to move with it if we want to remain relevant. We must embrace technology, digitalisation, flexibility, engagement, inclusion, automation. We need to make a bonfire of the policies and really start empowering people to work at their best to build a fairer and more inclusive society.

The key to it is knowledge. The only way to navigate the innovation deluge is keeping on top of the latest technologies and trends. Technophobia has no place in the modern people profession. We need to learn what is out there that will help us become more flexible and automatise transactional tasks so that we can focus on what really matters - championing good work, becoming the ethical compass for our organisations, and empowering people to be the best they can be.

Internet and social media provide wonderful resources that we can use to keep ourselves up to date, but reading the latest articles is not enough. We must get out there, as often as we can. We must connect with our peers to learn what they are doing, and we must meet the people who are devising the new technology - to learn directly from them and understand what technology can do for us and our profession. We need to try it with our own hands to understand the possibilities. 

The time for HR to sit comfortably in their office drafting new competency frameworks has come to an end and it’s not coming back - if we don’t put ourselves out there to learn, connect and deep-dive into technology and innovation, nobody will do it for us. We only have one choice - embracing the new world of work or becoming obsolete.

The 70th CIPD Annual Conference & Exhibition takes place 8 - 9 November 2017 at Manchester Central. Book now to secure the last conference places. Free Exhibition registration is open until 7th November 2017.

Anton Riolo, Conference Production Manager, Haymarket Media Group