In last year’s attention-grabbing Harvard Business Review study, “21 HR Jobs of the Future”authorsJeanne Meister and Robert Brown worked with CHROs and other people professionals to discern what new responsibilities HR leaders will have in the coming decade. And at an HR Tech Conference panel this week, Brown shared that those roles are closer than we think.
Brown—who himself opted to follow the bright lights of digital transformation as vice president of the Cognizant Center for Future of Work—said the new chapter of HR jobs are focused on five essential themes: wellbeing, organizational trust, creativity and innovation, data literacy, and human and machine partnerships.
The pandemic will speed up the development of jobs like genetic diversity officer—especially important after the mRNA vaccines used to treat COVID-19— and human network analyst, the need for which became clear after more than one-third of employers didn’t have an emergency preparedness plan prior to the pandemic, Brown said.
“Work-from-home facilitator is one job that is hot right now,” he added. “This will be important because it involves what we call the three Cs: coaching, contacting and caring.”
For the past 18 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the experience of using Zoom and Microsoft Teams will blossom into the use of 3D VR and augmented reality, prompting new titles like VR immersion counselor. “We will be in immersive worlds,” said Brown.
One of the panelists demonstrated the message that the jobs of the future are already here. As an HR analytics business partner at WL Gore & Associates, Willis Jensen is a data detective. He describes this role as someone who “sources, sifts and investigates people data from multiple sources, including HCM and HRIS data,” he said.
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“There is so much data out there and it’s often not helpful. But when it is applied correctly, it can help with these problems,” said Jensen.
On his list of issues to address as a data detective—one of the HR jobs of the future cited in the report—Jensen points to rising attrition, overload, burnout, dissatisfaction and engagement.
“We need to collect the data, analyze the data, generate insights and act on the insights but don’t expect the tech to do it all,” warned Jensen. “You have to start with the problem to save and then determine the right analysis. Always start with asking the question you are trying to answer.”
Despite the projections for tech-specific HR jobs, that doesn’t mean that all jobs will be automated—instead, the shift will require more focus on the partnership between humans and machines. The role of human machine teaching manager, for example, will liaise with and lead the machines. “People do the art of the job, machines do the science of the job. People know the right thing to do but machines can do analysis,” said Brown.
How do we look at the skills needed for these HR jobs of the future? “It will resemble the Harry Potter sorting hat for skills,” he said.
Megan Leasher is chief solutions strategist of Talent Plus, which offers a five-week course on the “21 HR Jobs of the Future” which it separates into four quadrants: The Investigators, The Definers, The Advocates and The Strategists. The Advocates, for example, listen to people with a keen ear and are often mentors, second-act career coaches and distraction prevention advisers.
When it comes to developing HR jobs of the future, Jensen advised HR leaders to look for potential candidates in house. “Develop your internal talent. They might be IT analysts, statisticians, engineers, business analyst … give them a chance. Support the people in your organization who are ready to grow and give them opportunities,” he said.