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5 Jobs for the HR Department of the Future


In a recent article on The New Talent Times, I asked industry experts to predict what the HR department of 2020 would look like. Among their predictions: a move toward a more strategic in-house HR. But what exactly does that mean? What positions will this “more strategic” HR department of the future include?

In order to find out, I did a little digging, consulted industry experts and talked to both up-and-coming and well-established HR technology firms who will supply the systems these new employees will operate. Here are five roles we discussed.

Resource Procurement 

James Gasteen, Co-founder and CEO of Precursive, pointed me to a study by MBO Partners which found that  by 2020, independent workers will be the majority of the workforce—in the US alone “free agents” will be over a third of the labor force. According to Gasteen, “This is symptomatic of a trend which will see companies relying far less on full time salaried/benefitted employees and far more on people who can fulfill skills gaps and are hired for specific outcomes.”

The result: the rise of resource procurement professional, a new breed of recruiter that will hire individuals to fulfill a specific task over a set period of time, rather than fill full-time positions.

This type of position already exists in some fields—Richard Susskind predicted a similar change in the legal field, while in management consulting the same idea is being pioneered by Eden McCullum, a European company of independent consultants offering far more flexibility than a fixed workforce, at a lower price. We even have a similar role here at Software Advice in our marketing department—our resident Contributed Content Editor, who finds and hires contract writers for specific pieces on a tight deadline. 

Internal Mobility Coordination

While Gasteen predicts that resource procurement specialists will more efficiently find “free agents” to meet immediate and specific goals, Karen Stevens, Vice President of Practice Strategy at RiseSmart, contends that HR will need to appoint a member of staff to ensure companies aren’t neglecting to promote in-house talent—what she calls an Internal Mobility Director.

Generally, organizations seek to reduce turnover to improve their bottom line, as well as retain what Stevens calls, “tribal knowledge,” or the familiarity with a company’s operating procedures that occurs when employees stay with an organization longer term.  Stevens claims, “Internal Mobility Directors will be responsible for ensuring a certain percentage of employees are considered for open positions in other divisions of the organization, and given the opportunity to develop skills with 'on-the-job' projects.”

This position will become increasingly important as millennials enter the workforce in greater numbers. In fact, in a 2011 Price Waterhouse Cooper survey of recent college grads, the company found that employee loyalty had decreased drastically—in 2008 only ten percent of participants expected to have six employers or more in their lifetime, while in 2011 over a quarter expected such a career trajectory.

To increase loyalty and reduce turnover, younger employees need to know their efforts will be rewarded with new opportunities. As Stevens says, “Employers must start to look at how they can redirect energy back into the organization and make it as easy to move internally as it is to find a job outside of the organization.”

Cultural Coordination

This one shouldn’t be surprising. There’s been quite a bit of buzz around the importance of corporate culture in the past few years. To engage employees, Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin Healthmiles, says, “Corporate culture is a key ingredient. In fact, study after study shows that less than one third of employees across the US are actually ‘engaged’ at work.” 

Rachel Mathews, AnyPerk’s Client Success Manager—an internet service that gives businesses access to corporate perks and discounts—argues that a fundamental shift has occurred in what people look for in an employer. Mathews says, “In order to impress and retain employees, companies have to go above and beyond. Fostering a strong and rewarding culture is a way to do that.” 

Enter the Culture Chief.

While this position may not yet exist per se, there are already similar positions emerging at innovative tech companies. For instance, Google currently employs  “People Services Coordinators,” Klout has a “Director of People & Culture,” while Dyn has a “Director of Culture.”

Big Data Analysis

Big data is becoming more and more important in HR, as Josh Bersin pointed out earlier this year. Using data that is already available, an HR analyst could help companies better understand factors contributing to things such as high employee retention, great sales performance, or even determine which current employees might be great fits for leadership positions down the line.

However, there is a current lack of HR professionals with the data analysis skills necessary to put the data to use—a fact that Jonathan Ferrar, Vice President of Smarter Workforce at IBM, says must change. “Tomorrow's HR department must include an analytics expert to take advantage of the ever-increasing amount of data a company has access to, analyzing the already collected data to better understand what it needs from employees and increase profitability.”

Wellness Coordination

Finally, as changes to health care go into effect, Shelly Henderson, Manager of Wellness Programs at Healthentic, claims that an on-staff Wellness Coordinator will become one of HR’s future roles. According to Henderson, “Employers will be scrambling to fully understand the legal ramifications of the Affordable Care Act.” The answer: a wellness coordinator to help navigate these changes, but also work to improve the overall health of the organization. 

According to Georgia Suter at MINDBODY, a wellness software provider, this individual would set up a company wellness plan encompassing biometric screenings, fitness classes, smoking cessation programs and more. Ultimately, companies will be looking to minimize health care costs, and, as Suter says, “With diabetes, obesity and heart disease on the rise, coupled with inflated health insurance premiums, a point person that oversees the health and wellness of the employees will become critical.” 

And the technology is keeping up. Companies like Healthentic and MINDBODY offer tools that let HR managers combine employees’ health data in order to analyze current and future risk conditions. With such tools, Henderson says, “Employers can define the success of various wellness programs that will create job satisfaction, presenteeism, productivity, and increase overall health while reducing health care spend over time.”

These are just a few of the potential jobs industry experts predict will emerge in the coming years. Is anything missing? What changes do you predict? Join the conversation by commenting below, or let us know on Twitter @NewTalentTimes.

Thumbnail image created by SurFeRGiRL30.

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About the Author

Erin Osterhaus joined Software Advice in 2012 after earning an M.A. in German and European Studies from Georgetown University. She focuses on the HR market, offering advice to industry professionals on the best recruiting, talent management, and leadership techniques.

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