Future HR … Some food for thought
Future HR … Some food for thought

Future HR … Some food for thought

I am genuinely passionate about the future of HR, and I returned to the CIPD (the professional body for HR and people developmentas a member because I believe the CIPD has a good idea or “feel” for where HR is going as a profession, and what HR needs to be thinking about. I say “feel” as the future cannot be predicted and often emerges – it therefore “feels” right to say it. But do HR professionals actually take time to consider what future HR might look like or do we focus too much on getting stuff done now, with an occasional eye on what might happen next? Well I’d like to write a few bite size posts on what I think might happen in order to start the discussion.

Giles O’Halloran – freelance HR Professional & Digital HR Strategist, freelance HR consultant at go2-work, a freelance associate at CIPD.  You can contact Giles via e-mail giles@go2-work.co.uk or his LinkedIn page.

Could we make HR innovation a strategic reality?

HR has and will continue to evolve, but it will do so at different rates in different sectors due to the culture, environment and mindset of that sector. Although culture is usually organisationally bound, you can see common themes in the personalities, mindsets or “ways of doing” things across any given sector. That is why when I hear someone say at a seminar “that’ll never work in our organisation,” I avoid getting frustrated and take comfort in Rogers’ Innovation curve – it will work, it just might not work now or where you are as an organisation.

BUT … and it is a big but … you need to think about the “why” and “so what” when it comes to the world changing around you. This is where a more strategic solution mindset is key to the future of HR if organisations are going to be able to survive in a world driven more by technology and faster paced change. Both of these key drivers have human factors, and even though machines are continually developing to take on more traditionally human work, HR needs to look at where humans still have a competitive edge over the machine.

Who are we in HR now and going forward?

HR professionals often say they “landed in HR.” They didn’t choose to be there but simply ended up there! What does that say about HR as a career to our stakeholders? However, on the flip side of the coin, there are countless others I have come across who have studied HRM or related courses, have HR related experience, but then find it very difficult to get into HR – often because HR itself is too fixed on what the job spec says and not what the person can truly bring to the role.

How can we as HR advise management and leadership teams on talent when we are ourselves being too short sighted? We therefore need to manage this gap, we need think creatively, and create opportunities at all levels to open the doors to future talent in all its forms – from within, outside and alongside the profession.


The future of our work is not based on the silo and functional mentality of the past, but the ability and agility to tap into networks that connect talent, capability, knowledge and energy to make things happen. HR is in a perfect position to be able to facilitate, encourage, role model and train this capability to create organisations of the future.

What will HR become or mean?

We were called Personnel and then we became HR. Whatever we call ourselves or become going forward doesn’t really matter, what matters is that the future of our profession is about people. Future HR should focus more on getting the best out of people through developing their talents and capabilities as individuals or communities (the Human bit), but then use technology, workspace design, and challenging work design to create a positive and fulfilling working experience (the Resources bit).

HR therefore needs to understand the nature of work, how it can be done and how technology will play an even more crucial role going forward. This means that the future dynamic and demographic of HR teams could be a subtle blend of psychologists, ergonomists, technologists and other specialists who do not traditionally sit in HR. However, the heart of what we do is about people and how they interact or work together in order to create organisational value – we therefore need to strike the balance and ensure the connection between Human and Resources.

Want to read a bit more?

This is just a brief taster of my thoughts and an intro to a few pieces I intend to share on here about what HR could become …. Why? Simple … HR needs to stop apologising for being what it is, start to think about where it is going and step up to show what it can become.

Please feel free to comment and share your thoughts … it is very much about having the discussion and sharing the learning.

If you are coming to the CIPD L&D Show – do say hi! I am looking forward to seeing and learning about all the great stuff going on :-).

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