influx of new skills. Data analytics, robotic process
automation (RPA), 3-D printing, artificial intelligence (AI) and other advancements are also rewiring
existing business processes.
“Clearly, these massive changes create many work-
force challenges—and opportunities,” notes Volini.
“In a significant departure from what we’ve known
as the norm, it’s now very difficult—if not impossi-
ble—to accurately predict the skills workers will need
in the near-term, let alone the long-term to transform
digitally, adopt advanced technologies, and change
how we work in concert with those enabling tools.
Career models, learning, organizational design, and
workforce planning all must be rethought in the new
norm of rapid change and technological advances.”
Despite the difficulty of forecasting future skills
needs, more CHRO’s are being called upon to do so;
that requirement features prominently among a handful
of new realities and trends that emerge as HR consult-
ants frame client challenges:
1. CHROs have their seat at the table: “We sometimes call this the golden age of HR,” McAndrew says,
because HR challenges and strategic business challenges are converging. Thriving in their new role requires HR leaders to look ahead more frequently and
further into the future. Nearly all CHROs are focused
on the talent their organizations will need in the next
six to 12 months. The most effective HR executives are
also looking three, five and 10 years down the road to
project looming talent needs, assess the current talent
pool and develop plans for filling gaps, Schwartz notes.
2. New talent management thinking and practices
are on the way. Speed now marks one of the CHRO’s
biggest challenges. The pace of technology introduction—and perhaps, even more so, technology obsolescence—is exceeding the process by which the skills
to use that technology are acquired and developed
through traditional modes. Companies want help figuring out new places to source, hire, train and even share
a growing number of talent segments and skill sets.
“It’s not just build, buy or borrow talent,” McAndrew
says. “Now it’s build, buy, borrow, ‘bot or boot talent.”
3. Retraining is giving way to retooling. While
RPA and other advanced technologies will result
in significant job losses over time, the “booting”
McAndrew and her peers focus on relates to the
challenge of assigning higher-value work to employees and teams as robots take over greater portions (the repetitive aspects) of their current roles.
“The issue is still talent,” Benson explains, “but the
focus is shifting from just recruitment and retention
to continuous upskilling… the challenge is continuous reskilling at scale.”
4. Improvements to organizational culture, diversity and inclusion, and the employee experience
drive business value. It is fair to say that these areas have traditionally received uneven attention and
spotty funding in many companies. While lip service was often paid to their importance, these topics
tended to move up priority lists only after a highly
publicized ethical or behavioral lapse. Consultants
say this is changing due to business reasons. All of
these areas help attract, retain, and develop highly
skilled, adaptable, intelligent talent. When HR consultants talk about the employee experience today,
they sound more than a little like marketing consultants promoting the virtues of mapping the customer journey and managing the customer experience.
This need will grow as more dramatic changes buffet
workforces that are already feeling “change fatigue”
during the early days of a technology revolution that
will play out over decades.
5. Societal issues loom. As the adoption of advanced
automation progresses, more pressure—to swiftly
produce new skills—will be placed on existing educational systems. Tech companies have already taken
a page from manufacturers and forged new relationships with some community colleges that are being
reconfigured as tech-talent “incubators.” More of this
type of thinking and innovation is needed. Plus, companies, and perhaps entire industries, may need help
developing new methods for managing the process
and impacts of large-scale layoffs concentrated in certain segments or geographic areas.