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HR’s Jobs of the Future Are Already Here

August 24th, 2020

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What will the human resources profession be like 10 years from now. How about in just five years?

In many ways, it will still be recognizable to a practitioner today. There will still be recruiters and benefits managers and compensation specialists, though they’ll be aided in the heavy lifting by artificial intelligence. HR generalists will still be around, especially at smaller companies, but with automation handling much of the rote work, they’ll take on higher value work.

What will be different will be the multitude of new HR jobs, some already here, many just beginning to emerge and others like “genetic diversity officer” and “distraction prevention coach” sounding like something out of sci-fi.

The Harvard Business Review recently published the results of a project by The Cognizant Center for Future of Work and Future Workplace predicting what the future of HR will be like in the next few years. The 100 HR executives they brought together brainstormed the possibility of 60 new HR jobs by 2030. The HBR article focused on 21 with the most organizational impact.

It’s a list that leans heavily toward the techno-capable.

“All jobs will utilize innovative technologies,” write the authors, Jeanne C. Meister and Robert H. Brown, who go on to add, “but only the most tech-centric will actually require a grounding in computer science.”

That any HR role should require a tech background is a remarkable development for a profession traditionally dominated by liberal arts and psychology majors. Yet at many companies, this is already happening. What the HR think tank dubbed HR Data Detective is a job that already exists in many of the largest – and some smaller – companies where it’s called simply analytics or workforce analytics or more commonly, people analytics.

“People analytics,” explains the HR analytics technology firm Visier, “Is the practice of collecting and transforming HR data and organizational data into actionable insights that improve the way you do business.”

Speaking to the HBR authors, Chase Rowbotham, who heads people analytics at Genentech, says, “As remote work becomes the new normal, we are able to gather insights from our HR information systems to develop a number of new HR practices such as training managers of remote workers on successful strategies for leading a remote global team to ensure both productivity and continued employee engagement.”

That job of developing and training for remote work and building their engagement will be the domain of the Work from Home Facilitator.

Whether that’s the actual title, the job, according to the think tank, will “ensure that the organization’s processes, policies, and technologies are optimal for remote workers. A key metric of success for this role would be to build remote workers’ strong sense of belonging within the organization, ensuring that they know their purpose and feel deeply cared for.”

Such a job might not have been thought of a scant 6 months ago. But as the authors point out, the coronavirus pandemic has changed much. The work from home movement was well underway before COVID-19, but when the pandemic sent everyone home, it provided workers could be as productive – or more -- working remotely.

“The advent of Covid-19 compressed time like an accordion, resulting in a handful of these roles becoming ‘jobs of the now,’” say the authors of the HBR article.

That compression is continuing and is illustrated in the timeline for these new HR jobs. Two-thirds are predicted to emerge in the next five years; several will be a fact in just two or three.

The authors conclude their overview of the new jobs with this advice, “Change is coming, and it’s best to get a head start. Companies that can anticipate their organization’s future HR roles are not only in a position to outperform competitors, they are also squarely positioning HR as a strategic business driver.”

Photo by Guilherme Stecanella

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