The modern workplace is undergoing tremendous change.
In what is being referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, automation is quickly replacing jobs involving repetitive tasks. According to
McKinsey, "in about 60 percent of occupations, at least one-third of the constituent activities could be automated, implying substantial workplace transformations and changes for all workers." If the current trends continue, expect a total loss of 7.1 million
jobs—two thirds of which are concentrated in routine white-collar office functions, such as office and administrative roles—between 2015–2020.
At the same time, the makeup of the workforce is evolving rapidly. According to the 2018
Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report, companies expect to substantially increase their use of contractors and freelance workers, rather than hire full-time workers. Why? Because technologies enable them to be more productive with fewer staff and
expand their operations without having to invest heavily – all while freeing staff time to focus on adding value to the business.
HR must evolve to meet complex and emerging needs
In light of these trends, the role of HR is expected to change – radically.
Another big 4 (PwC) predicts, "HR as we know it vanishes, replaced by automation, outsourcing and self-organising teams." From an HR perspective, this means that almost every aspect within an organisation will be streamlined, and methods of collaboration
and defining organisational structures will evolve. HR will need intelligent technologies to analyse employee data and create customised talent offerings. And CHROs will be asked to evaluate external technologies and make their organisation more strategic;
leading with comprehensive cloud solutions (for both permanents and temporary staff) and data analytics.
But the path forward for HR appears uncertain, in particular for the banking sector
Pressures on HR executives in a banking environment are that much more accentuated. With the
FCA pushing accountability and supervision, focus on remuneration (deferrals and clawbacks) on senior executives, needing to support whistle blowing and employee wellbeing, the banking CHRO have their hands full. Add to that a changing workforce (the ever
growing need for digital skills) and the ongoing challenge of the 'banking brain drain' (resignation, redundancies), it is time for HR functions in banks to introspect and innovate.
Most HR teams are trying to understand if – and how – they should be doing more for their bank and what that effort should look like. Along the way, they are redefining:
- Business expectations and the role of HR
- How to use and understand data analytics and leverage new employee insights
- How to align competency frameworks given new robotics, cognitive, and AI requirements
- The best ways to retrain and reskill employees to complement these technologies so the bank realises maximum value from both
- How to deploy employees as automation and artificial intelligence replaces them – ensuring that these decisions are made based on predictive insights into future business needs and strategy
Given these pressures, it's critical that HR focuses its attention on getting the right person doing the right role in the right way.
So, how can HR embrace the new digital agenda?
As a CHRO, success depends on:
- Asking the right questions – such as, "How will new technologies ease everyday pressures on our employees, how does data science help the HR agenda?"
- Learning from examples of success – such as banks that are developing
employee-centered, self-service mobile apps that help them find information, answer HR-related questions, and feel connected to the business
- Staying on top of emerging digital technologies and trends in HR – especially current technological trends in employee engagement that will be essential to driving productivity
- Being aware of new technology soutions including self-service HR, ML-enabled HR bots (for example, to cost-effectively scale HR for seasonal hiring peaks, onboarding, training, and even employee self-assessments and reviews), digital communications, including
video, and social networks
Is data (Machine Learning) a ready solution to drive new possibilities?
Machine learning is certainly creating new possibilities for banks in terms of what it can do with the terabytes of employee data.
With the right data, technique and algorithms, HR functions can mine their data for deep employee insights and use it to drive new executive decisions: attract the right employee, hire the best talent, proactively manage attrition, provide an exceptional,
mobile-first onboarding experience, deliver engaging learning and development experiences, and through cloud based solutions enable effective talent management and total workforce management, working in tandem with Finance (ERP), Procurement (direct and indirect
spend) and security (access governance and inappropriate behaviours).
It's time therefore for a mind shift in HR
It's time for CHROs to help the HR function understand digital and ML technologies and the innovative implementation possibilities for HR. Data analytics and machine learning cannot remain just an IT topic. HR professionals need to learn
what machines can do so they can start to reimagine HR – and ultimately lead successful ML and data centric implementations.
To this end, CHROs need to start planning to further emphasise the "D" (digital and data), into their agenda. This may involve working alongside the IT function. Awareness of technological and data possibilities will be fundamental to achieving the mind
shift needed to think anew about the familiar in HR – and ultimately transform it and lead the business with the employee agenda.