September 22, 2014

7 Key HR Trends You Can’t Ignore

Head in the sandWe can become so immersed in our HR and recruiting jobs and careers, that we can often forget to ‘look out the window,’ in a manner of speaking. We just plod or power on for months or even years at a time, faithfully dedicating ourselves to our HR careers, without realizing that the HR world has changed around us, meaning that the next time we look out, the world may be very different. We could find ourselves on the curve — or behind the curve and missing opportunities. And so I thought I’d take a look out the window for a moment to see the key trends affecting the HR profession that shouldn’t be ignored.

1. Do you still have/crave an HR administrator? 

The days of HR administrator/apprentices are numbered. HR administrator jobs are already being automated away by sophisticated HR software solutions, and this Oxford Martin study suggests that around 90 percent of the HR admin tasks will be automated away in the next 10 years. The days of human HR admins are numbered, and if you have one or are expecting to continue to have one for years to come, you may be a little out of touch.

2. Be prepared for a pincer attack from other functions

As HR admin roles diminish, the bottom will be pulled out of the profession and the traditional talent feeder channel into mid ranking HR roles will dry up. This doesn’t mean there will be shortages or less competitition. I predict that this gap will be filled by sideways pincer movements of people-focused professionals from operations, marketing, sales, and finance into HR. The traditional HR professional will now be competing and collaborating with HR candidates/professionals who have not worked their way up through the ranks of HR.

3. Turf wars

There has always been a bit of a turf war between HR and finance, with respect to payroll and compensation and benefits ownership. With the rise of social recruiting, expect to see more turf wars around employer branding and social hiring between HR/recruitment and marketing. I predict that in time these wars will acquiesce and perhaps a specialist “people marketing” role will develop that will be open to marketing-focused HR people or HR-focused marketing people. A happy ending.

4. Increasing expectation for big data backed insights and decisions

This KMPG white paper shows that 85 percent of C-suite executives claim HR teams “fail to provide insightful data analytics,” and this creates distrust. It’s no longer OK to say, “I need more training budget.” What HR professionals need to say is, “Data shows that a $50,000 investment in training should lead to a 3 percent increase in productivity.” Data-focused HR professionals are four times more likely to be respected by their colleagues, asserts this Forbes article.

5. The HR experience level of practicing HR professionals is declining

According to the SHRM, over the last 25 years, there has been a sharp decline in the number of HR professionals with over 15 years’ experience in HR and a sharp rise in those with less than 5 years’ experience

6. HR generalist roles are declining in number

If you are an HR generalist, you may find it harder and harder to get a job, as there has been a 20 percent drop in HR generalists over the past 25 years, with 10 percent of that decline occurring in the last five years. To find increased job security and availability in HR, you need to specialize — ideally in growth areas like recruiting, which has shown a sharp increase in jobs in the last six years according to the SHRM, along with HR planning/strategy/affirmative action, which have also shown an increase in jobs.

7. Education level of HR professionals is rising

The SHRM study showed that the number of HR professionals with graduate degrees has increased by 25 percent over the last six years, meaning that more emphasis is being placed on education and qualifications in HR.

I’d like to hear of any other HR trends that you believe may be seriously impacting the profession.

Read more in Job Trends

Kazim Ladimeji is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and has been a practicing HR professional for 14 years. Kazim is the Director of The Career Cafe: a resource for start-ups, small business and job seekers.