By John Boudreau, professor and research director at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business and Center for Effective Organizations
The forces shaping the future of society are impacting more than just how we live. They are impacting how we work too. Long gone are standard forty-hour work weeks made up of five consecutive eight-hour days. Our fast-evolving work ecosystems are now incredibly diverse, made up of people engaging via traditional employment, as well as contracting, crowdsourcing, telecommuting and freelancing.
As a means to understand how these changes – and upcoming iterations – are impacting employees, top HR leaders joined forces three years ago in a collective effort called CHREATE (the global Consortium to Reimagine HR, Employment Alternatives, Talent, and the Enterprise). Their effort has revealed a step-change in organization challenges and capabilities. Successfully navigating this new work ecosystem requires “retooling” HR, using the best thinking from disciplines such as engineering, finance, neuroscience, marketing, operations and supply chain.
Yes, the team responsible for the recruiting, hiring, development and sustainment of your people needs to be comprised of more than traditional HR players. Leaders need to deploy their best and brightest from all disciplines to optimize the future of work.
To help frame where the world of work is going, CHREATE leaders identified five fundamental forces driving change:
Along with identifying the five forces that are driving change, the CHREATE project also identified four roles necessary to meet these coming challenges.
To illustrate how the four roles will come to fruition in the new workplace, let’s look at how IBM has successfully evolved the Trend Forecaster and Technology Integrator role. IBM – like most organizations – is evolving its use of analytics to support future workplace decisions. But now, IBM’s workforce analytics team truly contributes to the strategic direction of the business. By marrying demographic data, financial data and performance metrics, the team is able to solve specific business problems such as identifying – early on – who’s most likely to leave and understanding – in real-time – what’s inhibiting people from performing at their best. This knowledge is invaluable in helping the organization build the best team.
The analytics team is made up of a wide range of individuals with strengths spanning HR, business acumen, consulting, storytelling, change management, statistics and visualization. And that is what makes this endeavor successful – fusing multidisciplinary skills together to solve specific business problems.
And that’s not all. IBM plans to focus on the following three things next:
Where will the talent to fill these roles come from? It will require tapping leaders from areas beyond traditional HR, including marketing, operations, finance, engineering, communications and more. Top leadership teams must recognize that the most thorny, enticing and challenging questions for such disciplines will involve using their expertise to rethink the future of work and HR. It means “retooling” the fundamental idea of HR, to apply frameworks from these disciplines to the challenge of optimizing the workplace in the face of these trends. Imagine that you have a career path where your engineers take up the challenges of organizational culture, social networks, etc. How will you harness that potential?
John Boudreau is professor and research director at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business and Center for Effective Organizations, and author of the forthcoming books, “Lead the Work” with Ravin Jesuthasan and David Creelman and “Global Trends in Human Resource Management” with Edward E. Lawler III.