Professionals talking about Ulrich and ‘having a seat at the table’ need to look forward. HR of the future needs to be focussed on helping organisations become digital. In order to do this, the HR team could start to look quite different. The future of HR is likely to see a move away from a strict interpretation of the three-legged stool of the Ulrich model. The HR operating model of the future will need to adapt to endure the rise of the gig economy, developments in automation and AI, as well as the changing nature or work and fast paced, almost continuous transformation of businesses.
The future HR operating model may see increasing similarities with the squads, tribes, and guilds models observed in the management process of the business, which embraces lean teams of practitioners. Changes to the HR function can be significant; however, these are likely to be by the way of evolution, rather than revolution and could bring some challenges.
One of the leading organisation in this space announced in 2018, that it would move away from the traditional Ulrich HR model in favour of an agile, project based HR consulting group to focus on strategic people projects. In addition to introducing an HR consulting group, this organisation’s HR administrative function has plans to move to a global business services (GBS) model alongside other back offices functions such as IT, Finance, Procurement and Security. With 61% of organisations using a GBS model to gain efficiencies through multidisciplinary service offerings, this could mark the end of traditional tier one HR meaning that HR functions will become lean teams of strategic practitioners.
It is predicted that Robotic Process and Cognitive Automation will be ubiquitous in business by 2020. Ai Assistants offer opportunities to augment the workforce to rapidly unlock significant efficiency, improve decision-making, reduce cost and enable the deployment of resources to critical functions and tasks. Ai Assistants’ capability ranges from ‘simple automation’ such as repeatable payroll processing to ‘complex cognitive’ such as Deloitte Australia’s on-boarding bot Amelia who helps new starters choose their laptop before they start. As appetite for automation grows, we could see the end of traditional Tier 1 Operational HR with first level query response and triage being handled by machines. Those at Tier 2 would play an important role as a ‘coach’ for the machines. There is increased opportunity for uptake of Robotic Process and Cognitive Automation across particular areas that lend themselves to automation, including Payroll & Time or HRIS, Reporting & Analytics. These areas, along with aspects of the entire HR operating model could see new automation technologies implemented, from Robotics used for rules-based processing, through to A.I. aimed to completely replicate human interactions. 42% of organisations believe automation will have a major impact on job roles over the next two years but only 17% of organisations say they are ready to handle a workforce consisting of people, robots, and AI working side by side. HR of the future will play an important role in enabling machine-human collaboration paving the way for ‘humboticTM organisations’ that are purposefully designed to enable humans and software-driven robotics to partner to deliver a shared workload efficiently and effectively.
40% of organisations have moved to cloud for their HCM, so with the prevalence of employee and manager self-service coupled with rise of process automation the traditional HR function is likely to change in shape, with less warm bodied capacity required in HR Operations. This will offer CoEs of the future the opportunity to add value through new expertise such as an ability to help organisations translate new and interesting - but arguably theoretical - concepts such as wellbeing and employee experience into tangible business value that affects the bottom line. Ultimately COEs may be smaller with greater focus on skills such as organisational psychology than deep HR expertise.
HR of the future is seeing a move towards flexible pools of resources that can be engaged on a needs basis; this could be the area of further growth for HR, the fourth leg of the stool. This new model is shown in the diagram below with an agile pool of resources from within HR supported by a peripheral team of business resources.
Resources in this agile pool are assigned to support business initiatives and key talent programs. This new approach to HR and the move away from the traditional model has four potential benefits:
HR is evolving as businesses and the world of work is changing. We are seeing a need for the operating model to change to reflect those changing business needs and the importance of understanding and engaging the whole of workforce. One area where this is immediately evident is in how HR utilises the data and technology that is available to it, we will explore this theme in our next blog on how HR of the future can become data and technology fluent.