Tomorrow's HR World: What’s next for HRDs? An ADP White Paper

An employee from the 1980s would barely recognise aspects of working life today. Stepping out of a time machine in 2012, they could only marvel at the changes that have taken place in the past 30 years.
In terms of technology alone, the evolution has been remarkable. In the early 1980s, many companies were only just switching over to push- button telephones; fax machines and photocopiers were considered pretty advanced; mobile phones were the size of bricks. Today, email, video- conferencing, smartphones and tablet computers have transformed the working environment for many people – and the increasing globalisation of companies has radically altered many employees’ aspirations  and expectations.
Yet if the 1980s worker got back into their time machine and set the controls for 2022, they would have yet more surprises in store. With communications systems still advancing rapidly, the next decade is likely to see technology take an even more central role for businesses and their staff, allowing extensive and sophisticated remote working and a further evolution in working practices and habits.
In addition, issues such as the ageing population and the international nature of companies are likely to further shake up the traditional employer-employee dynamic. And with many of the world’s largest economies in the doldrums, and large swathes of companies and business sectors still struggling to recover from the effects of the 2008 credit crisis, the economic climate is likely to cast a long shadow over the evolution of business in the next 10 years.
The HR profession, too, is in the midst of a transformation that will continue for at least the next decade. Over the past few years, traditional “personnel” functions such as payroll, administrating employee performance appraisals and tracking holiday entitlements have become the province of external service providers, automated systems and line managers. Instead, HR directors and their staff have begun to take on more commercially focused tasks that have influence and impact at the heart of their organisations.
HRDs are increasingly making decisions linked to strategy and profitability. In the words of one industry professional, “gone are the days when an HR lady in a floral dress would fill in all the forms for the employees”. HR professionals, he says, are increasingly becoming “change agents… helping their organisation change culturally, geographically”.
Yet if HRDs have already taken steps towards a more strategic role, what is the next leg of their journey? What would a trip to 2022 reveal about the life of the HRD, and how will the changes taking place in the wider business world affect the work that HRDs do in managing their organisation’s relationship with its employers? This ADP White Paper looks at the possibilities.

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