The Future of Work and the Human Resources Renaissance

December, 15 2022

New pandemics, new technology, new workers... Although it was easy to imagine how COVID would impact the proliferation of remote work, much harder to was imagine the reshuffling of priorities.

Does every time have to be an unprecedented time?


The undeniable shift of workplace culture spurred on by COVID, has led to both expected (people working from home) and some expected ones—namely acknowledged importance of human resource officers.


Human Resources Renaissance

Human Resources (HR) has always been vital to the function of organizations, people do make the organizations after all, but COVID disruptions has placed the spotlight directly on HR departments. Among the reasons for this HR boost are working remotely, a new generation of workers with different expectations, and a plethora of tools at their disposal.


While all the above are certainly reasons the crux of the matter is more immaterial (all with be covered more in-depth below).


Working Remotely: The Expected (But-Maybe-Done-Too-Fast) Future

The idea of a remote workforce has been discussed since the early days of the internet. An article from the Academy of Management theorizes about new technologies and the exciting possibilities that they can revolutionize the workforce by connecting colleagues, was written in 1998. The paper charmingly calls them “virtual teams,” but, 24 years later, about 17.9% of Americans work remotely (myself included).


It's safe to assume that most remote workers want to stay remote; however, this raises problems. How does one know a remote worker is always working? How does one pay people all over the world, with different average incomes? How does one manage people across the world? All are questions for HR.


More time is being given to those questions, not just because they need to be answered, but because the answer carries with it implications. For example, Brian Elliott, the executive leader at Future Forum and VP of Slack, warns against implementing measures of remote productivity checks as it encourages a culture of mistrust—inevitably leading to an exodus.


Similar implications can be made from paying people differently based on their city, despite there being no offices in said city. Is the worker from Baltimore entitled to less than the worker from New York? What does being paid less signal to the worker in Baltimore? Some companies now work off a “capital” city-based pay, regardless of location.


How employees feel about a company my not hold much importance for older generations, but it certainly does for the newest workforce, Generation Z.


Generation Z and Accepted Volatility

The “Great Resignation,” a term used to describe workers leaving their jobs at rates perceived to be higher than normal, shows no sign of slowly down in Generation Z. According to a study done by Lever, 65% of Generation Z plan to leave their job by the end of the year (2022).


There could be many causes for this, but one is certain, the general belief that employers don’t care about you. Resulting from this, Generation Z prioritizes life-work balance and learning opportunities. Where slightly older workers wanted leisurely offices, Generation Z may just want information that they can tap into at any point which, given the working from home, is easiest to supply on CoreAchieve.


Almost half of Generation Z will leave if they feel like there is too much workload pressure. The prediction Brian made earlier is less prophetic than it is grounded. Whenever implementing new work policies, one must consider how a much more volatile generation of workers will react.


Cornucopia of Tools

The same technological developments that led the Academy of Management predicting virtual teams, have continued to grow far beyond merely allowing people to communicate. Now organizations can perform most, if not all, necessary functions online.


Functions delivered online can range from learning, with a LMS like CoreAchieve, sharing collaborative files, to automating customer relations. Naturally, many of these tools deal directly with the administration and conduct of the organization which typically falls on HR.


The New Human Resources Standards

Mirroring the shift in workplace, workers, and technology, the perception of Human Resources has changed dramatically. Where HR used to be seen as the report-collector inappropriate behavior, it has now become one of the centerpieces of organizations.


Tracey Franklin, CHRO at Moderna, claims this change is visible in company meetings—she now gets the highest priority at meetings, just under the CEO. One anecdote may not be convincing, but the estimated 70,000 new HR jobs within eight years (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics) is.


What’s The Real Reason for This Change

All the above have been real reasons, but they all point to underlying causes. The United States has been rapidly turning into a service economy, full of technology, and a new generation of workers that values work differently. These elements all point to a new company need: an attractive culture.


Organizations being able to work with people regardless of location, time, or, sometimes, country is amazing—it allows an exponentially bigger pool of talent. Yet this goes both ways, just as an organization can find talent anywhere, talent can (typically) find work at a variety of organizations (of course, the power still isn’t equal—hirers still have power over hirees). This effect is multiplied by the volatility of the new generation.


The most descriptive word for the new work landscape is flexibility. Now, more than ever, people have options in who they hire or who they apply for. The result: culture is what binds organizations together.


Cultural Glue

Big technology companies have focused on culture for a while, after all, if you employ people that a competitor would love to have, you must make sure they enjoy your organization more. The problem being that organizations need to evolve with new generational cultural standards. These standards will constantly be changing, making it imperative for the HR department to be actively striving for a better company culture.


More importance than perhaps ever before is being placed on the shoulders of HR departments. The tools and techniques used to foster the organization’s culture hold more weight. Begin developing your organizations core, the people, and its culture, with CoreAchieve for free.


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