Staying ahead of the curve in HR these days requires technological prowess and an ethos of inclusion.
The HR landscape faces a raft of key workforce challenges including the onslaught of digital disruption, which have rapidly accelerated over recent years. How are we as individuals constantly adapting to meet these needs?
Are we resisting change?
The current state of the workforce is complex, perplexing and exciting, which makes the number of challenges and opportunities for HR both vast and unprecedented.
The role of the modern learner is geared by personalisation and the flux of changing workforce trends. How can we continue to engage our diverse workplaces within an environment of technological advancements, globalisation and the cross-generational population, while preparing for the unknown?
The PWC 20th CEO survey shows that six out of 10 CEOs believe there’s a skills shortage. There is also plenty of data about the increases in the contingent workforce globally. In Australia, this has increased from 15 per cent in the 1980s to 25 per cent, with about 40 per cent of the workforce now in non-permanent roles.
What HR leaders are looking for in their talent is changing. Today’s landscape is making way for more complex niche roles. McKinsey reported that by the year 2020, 20-23 million workers in advanced economies will lack the skills that employers need.
Advances like AI have moved the focus away from transactional roles, but at the same time increased the need for skills to build and support these technologies. If in the near future, where 30 per cent of typical “duties” are forecast to be automated, then the challenge will be to balance between the human touch and advancing technology.
What comes first, diversity or inclusion?
Bill Boorman, managing director technology and innovation at Recruiting Daily (UK), presented at a leading HR event in Auckland on diversity and inclusion, and the role HR plays in this sphere. He is responsible for consulting in an advisory capacity and driving the expansion of Recruiting Daily communities across the EMEA and APAC regions.
In his address, Boorman tackled the challenge around how individuals feel threatened by difference, technology, change and security. He added that experts are talking, but not listening or asking. Is HR actually creating a new problem?
As HR leaders we must ask ourselves:
- How often do we create environments where people feel excluded rather than included?
- Our diversity drive creates exclusion rather than inclusion. Do we highlight the differences or embrace our similarities?
“Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance.” – Jo Lockwood, founder SEE Change Happen, Transgender awareness and inclusion specialist
Boorman stressed that it’s crucial to be yourself and be judged on your performance – not your age, gender, or orientation. He poses the question, “are you ready to get inclusive, or are you too busy counting diversity?”
Biased algorithms are everywhere
Machine learning enables companies to deliver “No bias on steroids”. By this we mean machine bias, programming that assumes the prejudice of its creators or data.
Consider that in designing the programs to match the selection process of companies, have we created an environment where we are not only generating bias in technology but enhancing it into programming?
As much as machine learning offers significant increases in convenience, these benefits can often be detrimental to others. Every company that builds technology in any capacity is at risk of incorporating the prejudice of its creators.
Facial recognition is a well-known form of machine learning. The software, common on social media platforms like Facebook or with Google Photo, contains an algorithm that can put a name to a face it has seen in a photo before, yet it has been well reported as unreliable.
Similarly, when you surf the web across various social media platforms, you will see pop-up advertisements. These ads are tailored to your specific interests and needs, determined by your online search history. Through using marketing automation, it’s possible to track user interaction with the website and all activity therein. This data is captured and analysed with machine learning algorithms.
Learning and development, talent acquisition and HR in general, need to work together and consult across the business to create opportunities for inclusive relationships within organisation.
Overall, HR leaders should prioritise creating ongoing opportunities for employees to be successful in their environment. If we then review our talent and notice that there is an issue with diversity, we should consider whether the environment is creating opportunity for inclusion or exclusion.
A recent article in HRDive: ‘How teaching employees to find their purpose can lead to better engagement’, supports this view. Even though job seekers are looking for employers that appreciate their values and personal goals, not all employees have identified their individual purpose. If they do have one, they may not have recognised that it can align with the work they do. The organisation and learning and development team can help staff members find their purpose and channel it into staff satisfaction.
Digital disruption, diversity versus inclusion, and machine learning are mere pieces of a complex jigsaw puzzle comprised of an ever-adapting image. The opportunities our future workforce will present us with will be many, and HR leaders require dynamism and agility to stay ahead.
Kineo is helping businesses adapt to meet and exceed their learning needs. Discover the ways you can prepare your organisation for the future.