Tuesday, December 01, 2020
Wednesday, 23 July 2014 20:00

What Do You See in Your Future?

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The emerging trends within our workforce and businesses will have a significant effect on the Human Resource profession in the coming years. As HR professionals, we will play a key role in addressing these changes. Given this, we need to answer one essential question: What is the future of Human Resources? We asked two prominent Human Resource professionals this question and received these insightful responses.

Elissa C. O’Brien, M.A., SPHR, comments: As a Human Resource professional for more than 20 years, I see the next five years of our profession as our opportunity to have the greatest influence and impact within our organizations. As Human Resource professionals, we will need to be the architects for organizational effectiveness, to give our organizations the competitive edge in this global economy. It is all about “survival of the fittest” and to have the talent and leadership within your organizations to drive that success. On the horizon, I see three areas of human capital management that will be critical for Human Resource leaders to tackle within the next five years: human resource analytics, leadership development, and where “work” is performed.

Human Resource Analytics: Talent shortages will continue to grow globally, requiring HR to become the provider of human capital analytics in order to make the most informed strategic business decisions. The use of human resource analytics for a competitive advantage will become in demand and part of a solid HR plan. Common talent opportunity models and metrics to measure candidates’ potential for success will be vital, as well as enhanced workforce planning models. There will be a great need to match internal organizational competency demand with external workforce competency supply in the United States and around the world. Predictive index models will be in great demand, and the investment of training of unemployed and underemployed workers is one of our greatest opportunities to close the talent gap.

Leadership Development: Developing the next generation of corporate leaders on top of the mind for most HR professionals as 76 million Baby Boomers will retire in the coming years. That is an unprecedented number of skilled workers and leaders leaving the workforce. The challenge for HR professionals will be to ensure that they have the depth of leadership throughout the company and that leadership is focused on the right things. Developing leaders and emerging leaders who embrace a corporate culture to attract top talent will be front and center for HR. HR professionals will come under increasing pressure to retain and develop their top leadership talent.

Where and How Work Gets Performed: As HR professionals, we will be called upon to create structures to effectively manage a diverse and global workforce as well as create a new model of how work is accomplished. Workplace flexibility is a way to define how, when, and where work gets done and how careers are organized. New models and effective practices for continuous employee engagement and retention are needed to fit the demands of changing demographics as well as the ways and places where work gets done. HR will be leading this charge in shifting incentives systems to focus on work-life balance and flexible work arrangements to attract Millennials as well as develop models and effective practices for leading and managing remote workers as we conquer the war for talent.

I see a very exciting time for Human Resource leaders, as we are called upon to be the architect of talent, culture, and leadership and deliver on our promise to drive organizational effectiveness.

-Elissa C. O’Brien, M.A., SPHR

Shannon Lands, SPHR, comments: Extended Workforce: One of the biggest areas where I see change coming has to do with the growing use of an extended workforce. With the business environment changing as rapidly as it is, more companies are tapping into an extended workforce to gain a competitive edge. They are tapping into workers who aren’t employees, but people, such as freelancers, consultants, vendors and outsourced partners, who can temporarily lend companies their skills, knowledge, and abilities to help meet the challenges of a complex and ever-changing business environment. In this rapidly changing world, companies have to respond with more agility than ever before. As the complexity of the business environment changes and needed skill sets become more urgent, decisions on whether to buy, build, or borrow talent is asked more than ever. Given that HR is known as the “keeper” of talent management and talent strategies, I see this shift towards increased extended workforces causing HR to redefine its talent management activities, strategies, and goals. HR is going to have to create new strategies in talent management that correlate with the new realities of the workforce. No longer will HR’s customers and the company’s talent be comprised primarily of the employees of the company. The customers and talent will extend out largely to an extended workforce; therefore, HR will have to embrace a broader perspective on talent management and create strategies that reach everyone involved.

-Shannon Lands, SPHR

Elissa C. O’Brien, SPHR is Vice President, Membership for the Society of Human Resource Management. Her specialized areas of strength include development and execution of workforce and HR planning. She may be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Shannon Lands, SPHR, is the Human Resources Manager for Saltmarsh, Cleaveland & Gund. She is also Vice President of HR Florida. She may be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..