Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 2 seconds

A paradigm shift doesn’t always begin at the top, but successful transitions almost always beg strong leadership from principal decision makers. Human Resources administration is amidst a substantial transition--one born from a changing workforce and new technology--and the HR managers are grappling with major short- and long-term decisions.

Even the very nature of “leadership” is undergoing a transition. According to those in the field, the changing tides are still fairly hard to fully understand and their impacts hard to predict. However, there are trends. The HR Technology Conference, held this week from Oct. 18-21 in Las Vegas, highlighted new trends in technology are driving the changes in the HR landscape and forcing the hands of executives. Understanding those trends will allow companies to make critical choices about how to structure, or restructure, their HR departments and leadership.

Key Trends in Leadership

The next five years will feature big changes; as “fast-paced industries and rapidly developing markets combined with the shortage of relevant talent push the level of competition to new heights,” according to OnRec. Added to that, changing social norms will also impact how candidates look for work and companies look for hires.

The emerging prominence of the Chief Talent Officer, who has an intimate knowledge of the broad-stroke business context, is one trend. Such a person would be “capable of connecting strategy with execution, people with outcomes, and deployment of resources with results.” Someone with experience outside HR might be particularly adept at transitioning HR from a supporting role to staring one.

In addition, the softening of ridged hierarchical structures will lead to a greater number of employees learning leadership skills and taking leadership roles. Creating new opportunities within the company will help retain the young and restless employees who seem to be anxious. Managers will be acting as coaches focused more on the future, and less on past performances, changing the traditional performance appraisal.

Technology Advances Need to be Understood to be Implemented

Decision-makers have to ask hard questions. Managers are looking at company strengths and weaknesses, social and mobile recruiting, succession scenarios and fluidity, among other things. Looking far, far into the future will be a commonplace necessity, according to a recent article from Forbes.

Upgrading HR technology must also be commonplace, and it is important the executives who pull the purse strings understand the magnitude of the changing HR environment. Engaging employees, retaining employees and creating the right culture are vital.

A recent Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report that shows 87% of companies surveyed view those as key issues, according to the Forbes article. Research takes on an obvious importance. “The key to meeting that trifecta of needs lies in those powerful tools that can provide actionable data and insights. We’re seeing some of those innovations taking a multifaceted approach — they really are customizable and responsive, and getting even more so. So be selective.  

Embrace Data Analytics

HR analytics uses data to measure the impact of HR campaigns on business outcomes, according to an article from Financial Express. “… In absence of solutions which can measure the effectiveness of HR decisions, HR leaders would always be shooting in the dark. HR analytics helps in predictive analysis to make and execute the decisions in a rational way,” the article reads. 

Companies like LinkedIn and Xerox have been actively engaged in using analytics, with the former purchasing Bright.com for $120 million in 2014 to help match resumes with job openings. Xerox used a tool called Evolve to profile candidates for job stability and reduced call center turnover by 20% from 2012 to 2014. Tech solutions, however, should optimize HR decision making, not replace the skills and experience of HR leaders.

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