HR leaders feel unprepared for the future of work

Gartner and the future of workOnly 9 percent of chief human resources officers (CHROs) agree that their organisation is prepared for the future of work, according to a new report from Gartner. The study ties in to Gartner Gartner ReimagineHR conference, which took place last week. It concludes that to address the needs of organisations and workers in the future, HR leaders must focus on five areas of work. It suggests that tackling the future of work should not mean looking at the various changing aspects of work, such as AI, the gig economy and the multigenerational workforce, in silos. Istead, HR leaders should focus on the big picture of what the future of work can and should look like in their organisation.

Gartner has identified five areas that deserve deeper consideration as work continues to evolve:


Developing an AI ethics strategy

Data is increasingly used to make work-related decisions in talent acquisition and management and even workplace design. Gartner research finds that 75 percent of organisations are dramatically increasing their investment in analytics; in fact, the budget line item associated with talent analytics is the fastest-growing within the typical HR organisation. This increasing focus on talent analytics has led senior HR leaders to question how to collect data in an ethical way, and also how to ethically use the data that is collected.

These questions are particularly important given the increase in AI in the workplace. Going forward, HR must drive an ethical AI and analytics strategy that trains leaders on real-world employee data misuse and builds roles focused on data and AI decision ethics.


Rethinking how employees develop skills

Gartner research claims that 73 percent of CHROs say building critical skills and competencies is a top priority. At the same time, the skill sets needed are changing significantly – nearly two-thirds of job postings had more than 25 percent of their required skills change compared to five years ago. On-the-job training is the primary method being used to develop employees’ digital skills. However, 47 percent of on-the-job learning opportunities are at risk of being automated and eliminated by AI.

To ensure that employees still have the learning opportunities needed to develop the critical skills required for today and tomorrow, organisations must audit existing learning strategies to understand the dependence on on-the-job training. Then HR must re-imagine how skills development can and should be done to best leverage new technology while still providing employees opportunities to develop.


Building an internal transparency strategy

The rise of sites like Glassdoor and Fairygodboss means there is more information on employers and workplaces than ever before. For candidates, this is a good thing – Gartner research found nearly 60 percent of candidates feel like they are well-informed about the company they’re going to apply to before they apply. However, employees don’t feel as informed as they’d like, with 71 percent stating they think employers should increase transparency.

To meet employees’ growing expectations for information transparency, employers must develop a strategy that goes a step farther than the current culture might allow. In addition, managers must be trained on how to operate in a more transparent environment where employees are privy to more information and the balance of power is shifting.


Overhauling the role of managers for a new era

Gartner research shows that in 2010, the average company spent $471 per manager on training, which equates to more than $5,000 per manager over the last 10 years. These efforts have achieved zero net improvement in the effectiveness of managers. Progressive organisations are now asking how is technology fundamentally changing what it means to be a manager. In fact, 69 percent of what a manager currently does will be automated by 2024. This includes tasks like approving expenses, reviewing a project’s status, even on-boarding new employees.

Gartner recommends HR leaders focus on three things as organisations overhaul their manager roles in this new era of work:

  1. Determine which management tasks should be automated
  2. Establish new expectations for managers
  3. Design career paths for growth with fewer management opportunities


Using AI to create access to jobs for those who have been left out of the labour market

AI deployment is widespread with more than nine out of 10 companies reporting to Gartner that they have already made significant investments in the implementation of AI across the last couple of years. A recent Gartner survey revealed that 70 percent of CHROs expect investments in AI to replace jobs in their organisation within the next three years. While there are jobs that will be lost as new technology is implemented, technology will also enable access to jobs for people who have not historically had access.

To enable access to new talent pools, HR first needs to audit internal systems and practices for potential barriers to success. Then, the organisation should look to implement technology that can create an enabling work environment for new entrants to the labour market.