Thursday, August 9, 2012

Can HR Be Innovation Revolutionaries?

Human Resources is not traditionally thought of as a hot bed of innovation. Most HR people are steady, thoughtful and deliberate. Good thing too – who would want HR to be a “risk taking” group. But in my opinion this is exactly where the next decade of innovation has to come from. The way people (employees if you must) interact with the company they work for is rapidly changing. Traditional concepts around career growth, employee engagement, recruiting, screening and retention are all changing rapidly. The relationship that kids in high school today will have with the companies they work for in the future will be radically different than what we see today; and most forward thinking companies associated with human resources in any form are beginning to see this change. Whether you are in recruiting, onboarding, background checking, employment verification, drug testing, employee development or payroll you are going to be impacted. We see it every day in many forms but don’t always slow down to think about the impact. For instance I saw an article the other day about how “Gen Y” is having their midlife crises early, they don’t want to stick to just one thing. A few other signs of the change: independent contractors are the fastest growing job category, job hunting on social networks sites is exploding, Gen Y loyalty to the company they work for is at an all time low. The term employee is anachronistic. People (resources) will have relationships with employers (resource consumers). And this relationship will be much less permanent. It is a relationship of convenience. This change in relationship is being fueled by the rapid growth of data and open communities (like social networks or company “Alumni Communities”) that make free agency so much easier. What happens to HR when the workers of the future won’t have to worry about a steady job but instead “bid for work” when they feel like working? What will this mean for recruiting, staffing, background checking, credential verification and employee development? It will mean that the process will shift from being company centric to being worker (or resource centric). People will manage their brands and market themselves as “ready to perform”. For instance, free agents will probably be “pre certified” to do certain kinds of work. They will bid on a job and show that they are already screened, confirmed, and ready for work. This is not so far-fetched really. Take the evolution of doctors (and now nurses) who staff hospitals. Not too many years ago the majority of the staff were employees, now it is exactly the opposite. I see no reason why this type of shift won’t happen in all industries. It is going to be an exciting decade to watch the innovation and invention that comes out of the HR community in the years to come. Will HR lead the way - or continue their squabbles about employment law!