It was one heck of a gathering. For two days, an enclave of west London was turned into an HR wonderland. More than 1,000 delegates, 100 partners, suppliers, customers and speakers from 30 countries came to learn about the future of training, development and resources.
Cornerstone’s EMEA Convergence on the Future of the Workplace drew delegates like moths to a candle. The company has added 100 European clients in the last two to three years, collectively representing 6 million users from large regulated industries to small and medium sized companies. This occasion was, according to Cornerstone’s EVP and General Manager, EMEA, Vincent Belliveau, the chance to celebrate together and for the HR industry to learn and advance in the digital age.
Guest speaker, David Rowan, editor of forward-looking Wired magazine, helped open our eyes to the rise of the machine and its effect on the workplace. Think that self-flying vehicles are a thing of the distant future? Think again. They are already here. Technology will never move this slowly again and with Gartner predicting that by 2018 fast -growing companies will have more smart machines than human employees, the way we work needs to rapidly develop as well.
Machines haven’t outsmarted us yet and Rowan highlighted that companies are still most effective when machines and humans work together. So, what does that mean for the future of HR?
One of the main emerging trends in the world of HR is employee engagement – a few years ago it was a footnote on most HR manager’s notebooks, but now, in this new digital environment, it is vital company’s keep hold of their top talent.
With that, comes the demands for more flexible working, meeting the needs of the new generation of mobile communications, and unlocking the information in big data silos.
“There are many companies trying to go through a digital transformation, but it is not a technology change they need, but an entirely new cultural change,” said Belliveau. “They need to change their behaviour through their management programme. It is a totally different mind-set.”
According to a Cornerstone study, more than half of all companies are driving their HR models through flexible digital HR strategies. But there is still much to do to complete the journey. Not everybody can access expertise and insights from David Rowan - so it’s up to companies to make use of modern day HR tools and change behaviours to make sure their teams and structures are up to scratch.
A glimpse into the future from the founder
By Adam Miller, founder and CEO, Cornerstone
The future of HR is all about facilitating business transformation. Digital disruption and the rise of AI is no longer a possibility in the workplace; it is a reality. There is good reason why every company now considers itself to be a technology company –we can no longer afford to ignore its impact.
With the influence of digital disruption, companies need to re-enforce their position in the market or even move into new markets. With everyone using the same technology, everyone facing the same issues and challenges, how can organisations do this? A simple answer: through their talent. Talent drives business transformation and it is people who change and define the future of a company.
Yet, when it comes to employees, there is a sense of mass unease amongst organisations, with 86% of companies worrying about engagement challenges. Employers need to recognise that the impact of technology has changed how we work and how organisations should approach their talent management. Providing a talent programme that spots the right people, stops them slipping through the net, or conversely, stops them pushing their way to positions where they are unsuited is a scenario all HR managers aspire to and it is technology that will help them achieve it.
More and more companies are embracing the uses and power of data but it is no longer enough to assess and evaluate your current workforce, you need to anticipate and plan for your workforce of the future. Employee learning, performance management and recruiting need to equip employees to work in your “new” company, the company that will exist in five years’ time.
To this end, the addition of machine learning and AI across all aspects of talent management, can enable better interpretations and analysis of big data, making it into something more meaningful and formulating predictions for the future. AI can help predict who the rising stars in the company are, or who needs training to fit into the future skills’ gaps.
Employee development needs to prepare employees for the “jobs of tomorrow”. Through AI companies can create recommended learning and anticipate behaviours, foreseeing what courses and training employees will need to take for their own personal development and that of the company. Employers can optimise content and training catalogues, instilling a culture of ongoing learning. Leveraging machine learning can also aid the determination and management of career paths. Providing managers and employees with an overview of all possible career moves, helps ease the issue of employee retention, ensuring that employees do not look for their next move externally, as well as helping attract new talent.
Beyond administration and maintenance, this task optimisation enables HR to move from being process orientated to employee centric, focusing on business impact. This ultimately leads to smarter decisions about what to do with your people and organisation, which can lead to higher stock market returns, better employee engagement and better company performance.
Simple data analytics allows you to structure your workforce but machine learning and AI allows you to look into the future. It removes the ‘intuition’ from decision-making processes, ensuring you hire, fire, and develop the right fit of people to grow your business.
What a party! What a night!
Don’t say that the people at Cornerstone don’t know how to throw a party… The end of the first day at the conference was the time to relax and let your hair down. Bloomsbury Big Top was the venue of choice for Cornerstone to celebrate its very own Diwali festival. Colourful decorations, flowers and lanterns re-created a true festival of lights. Indian drummers and flame throwers, as well as dancers and astounding acrobatics got everyone in the party mood, with attendees partying until the early hours.
The battle for talent – a view from Cornerstone
Not only is technology changing, but the human capital landscape is changing. This inevitably leads to a lot of changes in HR too. We need to look at how HR can become more insightful. HR managers now have the tools to predict which actions will have the most impact on their business. Now, with these tools, the HR function has an even greater ability to affect the future performance and direction of their business.
We are witnessing a huge shift in the workplace, most notably the workplace demographic. 10,000 baby boomers retire every day and in the next ten years, 75% of the workforce will be millennials. How do we meet the demands of this new digital generation?
The whole evolution of learning is changing – how people learn, what they learn and when they learn has all altered. For those that are adjusting workplace practices accordingly, employees are dramatically more engaged, productivity is significantly higher and the performance of an organisation is better than its peers.
Talent management is at the heart of creating a successful business. You need to evaluate: Who are the right leaders for your business? Do you have the right leaders, not just at the top of your organisation, but at the middle management level too? Do you have a pipeline of talent to replace those who are about to retire or leave? How do you develop your staff? How do you manage performance and recruiting? How do you deal with compensation? Are your compliance and reporting procedures up to date?
It is all about evolution. Talent is the new battlefront - it’s what moves the needle of a business.
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