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Because I’m an HCM[1] nerd, I spent some time analyzing dozens of lists of New Year’s predictions about what will shape the HCM world in 2016 and beyond.   The goal of this pseudo-scientific exercise was threefold:

  • To identify major meta-trends affecting the HCM market.
  • To see if anything major is changing in the talent landscape.
  • To uncover changes that may be seem minor but could have profound impacts on certain areas of HCM. HCM changes fall into two general areas: meta-trends and focused transformations.   Meta-trends are broad changes that have a widespread impact on multiple aspects of HCM. Things like the aging of the workforce or the impact of technology on access to HR data.    Focused transformations are things that profoundly change specific parts of HCM, but may not have a widespread impact on the entire field.  For example, the emergence of Linked-In as a dominant tool for recruiting or the impact of European data privacy legislation on use of HR technology.  Focused transformations occur all the time and it would be folly to try to identify all of them.  But I was curious if any things showed up in my review that I had not really thought about before.

This paper contains the results of this thought exercise.  The overall conclusion I drew from this study is that things that were top of mind for HCM leaders ten years ago are mostly still relevant today.  The tools we have available to address HCM challenges have changed considerably, but most of the actual challenges are the same.  However there are some noticeable differences between now and ten years ago worth considering.   For example, the following are far more important now than then they were in the past:

  • HCM Technology Transformation:  developing professionals and organizational functions focused specifically on understanding and using technology to increase workforce productivity and efficiency
  • Business Oriented Human Resources:   increasing the role of HR in operational business decision making to ensure that company strategies can be achieved given the capabilities of the workforce and that the workforce is being effectively developed to support future business needs and goals
  • Continuous Coaching:  creating work environments that provide employees with more ongoing feedback and guidance to maximize their engagement, development and performance

These three things were discussed in 2004, but they were not major themes ten years ago.   This study uncovered several other things along these lines and certainly shaped my thinking about the HCM field and its future.  I hope you find this work similarly enlightening.

The Study – sorting 131 predictions from over 15 Thought Leaders into 20 Categories

The study consisted of three steps:  data collection, data categorization, and data conclusions.  First I conducted Google searches using terms such as “2016 HR predictions” or “Trends in HCM for 2016” to find different predictions.   I focused on predictions affiliated with organizations generally considered to be reputable sources for HR data such as SHRM, HR Technology, TLNT, Forbes, Fortune, Gartner, Korn-Ferry, Oracle, SAP, Deloitte, McKinsey, and others.   I identified predictions made by over 15 HR thought leaders including Anthony Abbatiello, Dan Schwabel, Danielle Monaghan, David Green, Jeanne Harris, John Boudreau, Josh Bersin, Marcus Buckingham, Peter Capelli, Todd Palmer, and Yvette Cameron.   The predictions ranged from things as broad as “talent from within will be realized as a true asset” to as specific as “organization charts begin to disappear”. The predictions were both about how the HCM world will change and about how companies will adapt to these changes.  For example, one person predicted the “battle for talent will increase” and another predicted that companies will respond to this by getting “serious about office design and use it as a way to attract top talent”.  I ended up with a list of 131 predictions.  And I could have easily expanded the list by parsing some of the broader predictions into sub-categories.  

The second step was to sort the predictions based on general themes.   To assess if new changes were emerging, I decided to see if I could sort the predictions made in 2015 using a list of HCM predictions made in 2004.  If a 2015 prediction[1] is highly similar to a 2004 prediction than it is not a “new change”.  2004 was also a time of economic growth somewhat similar to 2015 which provided some control for the major shifts in employment outlook that occur during economic recessions. 

The 2004 predictions were drawn from a research paper I wrote 12 years ago that took an in-depth look at labor markets at the beginning of the millennium[2].  This paper was written primarily from a staffing perspective but most of the predictions expand across all aspects of HCM.   Appendix 1 lists these predictions exactly as they were written in 2004.  The predictions were divided into changes happening in the labor market and actions companies must take to adapt to these changes. Aside from some language sounding dated, there is remarkable similarity between the 2004 predictions and many 2015 predictions.

I condensed the twenty 2004 predictions into a smaller set of twelve predictions to better align with the level of specificity generally used for the 2015 predictions. This made it easier to compare predictions between the two time periods.   Table 1 provides this condensed list along with the original 2004 predictions they are based on.    Table 2 summarizes the results of comparing the 2004 and 2015 predictions.  The predictions are listed in order of frequency that thought leaders included them in the 2015 forecasts.  54% of the 2015 predictions were very similar to predictions made in 2004.   Clearly for much of HCM, “the more things change, the more they stay the same”.   However 46% of the 2015 predictions were quite different from those made in 2004.

The Results:  what  has changed since 2004 and How has it changed?

The results of this study indicate that there has not been overwhelming change in the focus of HCM since 2004 but there has been noticeable change.  Three categories of predictions in particular stand out as things that are far more important now than then they were 10 years ago:

  • HCM Technology Transformation:  developing professionals and organizational functions focused on understanding how technology can be used to increase workforce productivity and efficiency
  • Business Oriented Human Resources:   increasing the role of HR in operational business decision making to ensure that company strategies can be achieved given the capabilities of the workforce and that the workforce is being effectively developed to support future business needs and goals
  • Continuous Coaching:  creating work environments that provide employees with ongoing feedback and guidance that maximizes their engagement, development and performance
  • Technology Enabled HCM/Easier HR. This was a theme in 2004 but it was not nearly as strong.  Many of the 2015 predictions stressed that companies can no longer afford inefficient, cumbersome and overly bureaucratic HR methods. People now expect easy-to-use technology applications in all aspects of their life, including their human resource systems.   Companies will struggle to engage modern employees if they force them to use clumsy and outdated HR systems.

These four predictions were discussed in 2004, but they were not major themes ten years ago.   The following are some additional thoughts for these and the other predictions identified through this study. 

  • HCM Technology Transformation – New. This new category of prediction reflects how central technology has become to the field of human resources.  It is no longer possible to run an effective HR organization without making extensive and effective use of technology.   Companies increasingly need people who fully understand the nature of HR processes and how to effectively leverage technology to support them.  The days of HR designing process and then handing them over to IT to build out the technology platform are coming to an end. HR technology and HR processes need to be interwoven with one informing the other.  

  • Business Oriented Human Resources – New.   This new category emphasizes how the role of HR has changed over the last 10 years.   HR used to be seen primarily as a support function whose job was to handle administrative and regulatory tasks such as payroll and benefits associated with fulfilling employment contracts.   HR is now expected to play a leading role in helping businesses acquire, develop, direct and retain the people needed to execute the company’s business strategies.   HR professionals must understand the organization’s financial models and operational goals and guide leaders in creating a workforce that can achieve the company’s business strategy.   HR used to largely be about making sure employees are treated right by the company. HR is now about ensuring the company has the right people in the right jobs doing the right things needed to make the company successful.

  • Employee Retention.   This was a theme in 2004, but the 2015 predictions stress a few things that are noticeably different from what was talked about ten years ago.  First, there is growing emphasis on holding leaders accountable for employee engagement.  This is similar to the predictions about more continuous coaching.   Simply put, companies can no longer tolerate managers who are ineffective at managing, coaching and engaging their employees. Second, several people forecast the end of the annual employee survey as way to measure employee engagement. Companies are increasingly measuring employee engagement using ongoing metrics gathered through social and mobile technology.  This includes short micro surveys to assess employee attitudes and process metrics that reflect things tied to employee retention such as tracking the frequency that managers and employees have discussions about career development.

  • Flexible Work Models.   What was a relatively minor prediction back in 2004 has become a major theme for 2016.   The fundamental concept of employment is changing for many jobs.   Work is increasingly about creating relationships and working on projects across different organizations rather than pursuing a series of jobs within a single company.  In more and more professions the concept of going to work in an office is being replaced by the practice of joining virtual teams.  And the line between employee and contractor is becoming increasingly blurred. Organizations must rethink what it means to have a workforce largely comprised of people do not work in the same location, do not have clearly defined job roles, and who may not even be employees of the company.

  • Growing Skill Shortage.   This was a primary theme in 2004 and remains a major issue in 2016.   The skill shortage is actually becoming even more acute now that baby boomers are starting to retire in large numbers.   Companies must find ways to keep older skilled workers involved in the workforce as long as possible.  At the same time, companies must accelerate recruitment and development of additional skilled employees who can perform newly created jobs or step into existing roles that are being vacated by their older colleagues.
  • Continuous Coaching Environments – New.  This trend is largely about transforming traditional “annual review based” performance management models into processes stressing ongoing coaching and feedback.  Companies have long struggled to get managers to provide effective coaching to employees.   The growing skilled labor shortage means companies can no longer tolerate incompetent management practices that restrict employee development or decrease employee engagement.  Greater focus is being placed on providing managers with tools and training to support ongoing coaching and holding managers accountable for actually being good managers. 
  • Workforce Analytics.  People have been predicting growth in the use of workforce analytics to guide business decision making for well over a decade.   This growth has been far more incremental than revolutionary. An interesting theme in the 2015 workforce analytic predictions is a focus on making greater use of technology to provide simple but up to date automated reporting, and less emphasis on building sophisticated causal or predictive analytical models.  As one person put it, “focus on big results not big analysis”.  

  • Recruiting Marketing.  The 2004 predictions in this area stressed things like applicant reactions to staffing methods.  The 2015 predictions emphasized the need to automate administrative recruiting tasks so recruiters have time to provide high touch “concierge” like service to candidates.   Recruiting has always been a combination of selling candidates on the job while also selecting them based on their capabilities.  Companies are increasingly leveraging technology to find qualified candidates, but getting candidates to actually join the company increasingly requires meaningful person-to-person interactions.  This includes internal recruiting of existing employees so they choose to build their careers in the organization instead of going elsewhere for the next opportunity.

  • Hiring for Potential & Culture.   The idea of hiring based on general competencies and culture fit instead of specific job skills has been around since well before 2004.   What is interesting about the 2015 predictions is the growing importance placed on values based hiring.   As job roles become more fluid and less well defined, employees have more latitude to decide how they want to perform their work. In addition, in a highly virtual and constantly changing organizational environment a lot of work is done in relatively unsupervised conditions.  Since “values are about how you act when no one else is watching”, these more flexible, virtual working conditions are causing  companies to put greater emphasis on hiring people who will comply with the company’s ethical and cultural norms regardless of whether they are actually being watched.  

  • Technology Enabled HCM/Easier HR.  The big theme in this area in 2004 was embracing the capabilities provided by the internet.   In 2015 the major theme is around mobile technology.   Much of the world went online between 1995 and 2005.  Most of the world is going mobile between 2010 and 2020. Companies must increasingly assume that almost every HCM process they provide will need to be delivered via mobile devices.   This requires thinking more in terms of simple “apps” as opposed to complex systems and processes.   Some 2015 predictions also called attention to the small but growing use of wearable technology such as Apple watches. 

  • HR Legislation – New.  This theme emerged largely due to two legislative changes in the US and Europe.  In the US, new laws will require organizations to reclassify many salaried/exempt jobs as hourly/non-exempt positions.  This will have a massive impact on many companies’ workforce financial models.  In Europe, growing legislation around data privacy is impacting how companies can leverage technology to support HCM methods.    These changes are more focused transformations than meta-trends, but if you are an organization that will be affected they could end up taking a considerable amount of your time and resources.

  • Measuring & Rewarding Performance – New.   To create a highly effective workforce it is necessary to accurately identify and reward high performers and recognize and effectively address issues of employee underperformance. This trend is related to the earlier trend of Continuous Coaching as it requires helping managers and employees effectively collaborate on defining and tracking performance expectations.   But this trend places emphasis on better performance measurement, compensation and recognition as opposed to coaching, development and career growth.

  • Developing Talent Pools.  Predictions in both 2004 and 2015 stressed the importance of building internal talent pools through developing existing employees.   But the 2015 predictions also called for greater use of employees’ social networks as a source of potential talent.   The 2015 predictions also called for increasing use of former employees as a source of talent (so called, “boomerang employees”) and a renewed return to large scale college recruiting programs.  Although the nature of college recruiting may look much different from the job fairs of the past given the shift to online recruiting forums and networks.

  • Improving Collaboration – New. Although this was not a 2004 prediction, the theme of teamwork has been a core focus of HCM for years.  It was not surprising to see it emerge in the 2015 predictions under the guise of collaboration.   The predictions in this area stressed the need for better tools that enable teams to quickly form and reach peak productivity given the constantly shifting nature of work.   This includes tools that allow team members to connect with one another, define shared goals and role expectations, and provide ongoing feedback and support. 

  • Virtual Organizations.   This theme was largely just a continuation of similar predictions made in 2004 that organizations will increasingly employee people working around the world.    We are now a truly global economy and companies must increasingly think across borders, countries and time zones when addressing workforce development, staffing and management. 

  • Providing Effective Healthcare – New.  These predictions were limited to HR thought leaders focused on the US labor market.  The aging workforce coupled with changes coming into play due the Affordable Health Care act will require many companies to rethink how they provide, position and support employee healthcare.   Healthcare is likely to become an increasingly expensive and important tool for attracting and retaining employees in the US job market.

  • Data Driven Decision Making.  Greater use of empirically developed tools to guide talent decisions related to staffing and development was predicted in both 2004 and 2015. However in 2015 emphasis is placed on moving away from formal assessment tools such as tests or questionnaires, and finding ways to collect data through more ongoing or organic processes.  For example, scanning the web to collect and interpret data on candidates based on online profiles or postings, or using social networking activity to evaluate employee performance.   If the next 10 years are like the past 10, use of these tools is probably not going to emerge as a wide spread meta-trend.  But we can expect to see more focused transformations in certain areas through development of highly specialized and specific data driven decision making tools for certain types of jobs and HR functions (e.g. staffing applications).

  • Workforce Aging.  The 2004 predictions in this area primarily emphasized the impact of an aging workforce on the skill shortage.  The 2015 predictions focused less on the challenges of retaining and replacing aging employees in the baby boom generation, and more on engaging and developing millennial employees who are the next large generation to enter the workforce. Several predictions noted that millennials are no longer that young.  Many millennials are now in their mid-30s and as more of them have children it could significantly impact what this next generation wants from work.

  • Embracing Diversity – New. Gender, ethnic and age diversity have been major topics in HR for more than 20 years.    The term “diversity” first gained widespread use in the early 1990s when there was a movement to create cultures that were more sensitive to people with different cultural backgrounds.   This movement died down around the turn of millennium as many diversity programs appeared to have mixed results for business performance.   Now diversity is again becoming a major focus area.  I believe there are at least two reasons for this.  First, the growing talent shortage is forcing organizations to address any obstacles that limit their ability to attract and retain skilled employees due to diversity concerns.  Second, as the consumer marketplace becomes more globally diverse companies are finding that to compete effectively in the marketplace they need a workforce that matches the diversity profile of their customers.  The result is companies are investing greater resources into programs to attract, develop and retain diverse employees.

  • Fluid Organizations.   This trend focuses on a movement in organizations to define jobs based on dynamic teams put together for specific tasks, as opposed to basing jobs using more rigid, hierarchical organizational structures.   As many organizations struggle to reconcile these two models, we are seeing more frequent restructuring of organizational charts which often serves to create confusion without building alignment.  A few HR thought leaders are predicting that companies will eventually abandon the organizational chart entirely.  In its place, companies will use technology to manage the workforce as a collection of individuals and constantly changing teams rather than treating the company as a series of ever changing functional hierarchies.   My guess is this trend may play out as a focused transformation for some companies or groups, but we are a long way off from ever getting rid of the org chart entirely.

Conclusion – what has and has not changed.  What should be top of mind as we enter 2016?

“Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future”  Niels Bohr, Nobel Prize winning physicist

Predicting the future is a notoriously error prone exercise.  Things that seemed inevitable at one point in time may provide elusive (e.g. jet packs) while things people hardly considered may become ubiquitous (e.g., GPS technology).  But predictions do not need to be 100% accurate to be useful.   In addition, many predictions about HCM from 10 years ago have in fact come to pass.   2004 predictions about virtual organizations, aging workforces, and flexible work models were largely just “things to think about” ten years ago.  These are now ongoing topics of conversation central to the HCM field.  Companies that recognized and prepared for these changes are more likely to have benefitted from them when they started to become commonplace parts of organizational life.

So what is the best way to leverage HCM predictions to plan future business strategies?   I suggest using HCM predictions when planning business strategies in a manner similar to how I use weather predictions when planning a family vacation.   Most of my family vacations are agreed upon far in advance.  I always check the weather forecast before leaving, but we almost never change vacation destinations because of weather.  But we will modify the clothes we bring and perhaps some details of what we plan to do on the trip so we are prepared to adapt.  That way the overall vacation remains a success regardless of what the weather may bring.   In the same way, I would not change a business strategy because of an HCM prediction.  But I might rethink how I plan to execute the strategy given potential changes in the HCM landscape.

  One way to use the predictions in this paper is to consider whether it makes sense to modify your current HCM practices or business strategies in light of different HCM trends and innovations.  To help you do this, Table 3 lists some “conversation starter” questions for the HCM predictions identified in this study. It is unlikely that all of these predictions will be critical to your company.  But it is also unlikely that none of these will matter to your organization. My suggestion is to discuss the ones that are particularly relevant to your company with members of your HCM leadership team.  And then review them every so often to ensure that the actions you take today are setting you up for lasting success in the future. 

Table 1.  2004 HCM Predictions (original verbatim 2004 predictions are in parentheses)

Growing Skill Shortage (Workplace Polarization into Skilled vs. Unskilled Jobs/Scarcity of Skilled Labor).   The increasing use of technology in the workplace combined with limitations affecting the supply of skilled labor will cause a growing shortage of skilled employees. 

Workforce Aging (Workforce Aging).  The increasing average age of the workforce in many countries around the world will have a profound impact on human capital management challenges and strategies. 

Virtual Organizations (Geographically Distributed Workforces/Virtual Workspaces).   The growing use of global labor pools and remote employees will drive changes in how companies staff and manage their workforces.

Employee Retention (Increasing Employee Turnover/Retaining & Developing Talent/Being a great place to work). The growing scarcity of skilled labor will force companies to increase the emphasis placed on creating work environment s that attract and retain talent.

Fluid Organizations (Fluid Organizations).  There will be a steady increase towards more dynamic work environments characterized by constantly shifting job roles and responsibilities.

Technology Enabled HCM (Internet Staffing).  Companies will have to make full use of leading edge technology and tools to find and manage talent.

Flexible Work Models (Flexible Work Arrangements/ Shifting Employee Attitudes).  Companies will give employees increasing freedom to determine when, where and how they want to work.  Skilled employees will have increased expectations for companies to adapt jobs to fit their life and work goals.

Developing Talent Pools (Building Talent Pools/Broad Band Succession Planning).  Increased effort will be put into proactively identifying and building talent pools inside and outside the organization.

Data Driven Decision Making (Scientific Assessment). Companies will make ever greater use of automated data driven tools to guide talent decisions.

Recruiting Marketing (High Touch Recruitment/Employer Branding).   Companies will put more focus on marketing themselves to potential applicants and providing job candidates with a positive experience so they choose to pursue and accept jobs with the company.

Hiring for Potential (Hiring for the Organization/Staffing Based on Potential/Competency Based Selection). Increased focus will be placed on hiring based on general cultural fit and future potential as opposed to existing technical skills and experiences.

Workforce Analytics (Workforce Analytics)Companies will increase the collection and utilization of workforce data to provide insight and guidance into HCM strategies.

Table 2.  2015 Predictions in order of frequency mentioned

Prediction Category

# of Times Mentioned

HCM Technology Transformation – New


Business Oriented Human Resources – New


Employee Retention


Flexible Work Models


Workforce Analytics


Technology Enabled HCM/Easier HR- Sort of New


Growing Skill Shortage


Continuous Coaching– New


Measuring & Rewarding Performance – New


Developing Talent Pools


Recruiting Marketing


Hiring for Potential & Culture


HR Legislation – New


Embracing Diversity – Sort of New


Improving Collaboration – New


Virtual Organizations


Providing Effective Healthcare - New


Data Driven Decision Making


Workforce Aging


Fluid Organizations


Table 3.  HCM Future Planning Questions

HCM Technology Transformation – New

  • Who in your company is responsible for identifying and recommending technology to improve your HCM capabilities? How do you ensure these people have a complete understanding of both HCM process design best practices and innovations and HRIT capabilities and constraints?
  • How will you use technology to improve your HCM capabilities over the next 2 years?

Business Oriented Human Resources – New

  • How do issues related to talent availability impact business planning and operations?  What HCM data is used during strategic business planning sessions?
  • What HCM issues should influence how your company plans to achieve its financial targets over the coming years?  How are these issues articulated to operations business leaders?

Flexible Work Models

  • How many contractors does your company employ at any given time? How do you integrate management of your contract and full time employee workforces?
  • How easy is it for people to work remotely?   Does the company impose geographical work requirements that restrict access to skilled talent (e.g. requiring people to work in an office)?

Growing Skill Shortage

  • What are the most critical skilled jobs your company will need to staff over the coming years?  How will you ensure a steady supply of qualified employees for these jobs?
  • What skills will your company need in the future that it may not have now?  How will you develop the workforce skills needed to support your profit and growth projections?

Continuous Coaching– New

  • What tools and training do you provide managers and employees to support ongoing coaching and career development discussions?
  • How do you measure whether your managers are actually providing effective coaching to their employees?  How do you ensure your managers are being good managers?

Workforce Analytics

  • What things about your workforce should you be measuring more effectively?  What things about the workforce do you NOT know that you should know (e.g. projected headcount, revenue per FTE, internal mobility, etc.)
  • What are the top 3 most important workforce metrics in your organization?  How are these collected, reported and utilized to guide business decisions?

Employee Retention

  • What is the retention of level of high performing employees compared to average and low performing employees?   Where are you losing critical talent?
  • What is the main reason for regrettable turnover in your company? How are you going to address this?

Recruiting Marketing

  • How do you differentiate your company from other organizations competing for the same candidates?   What is the compelling reason why candidates would want to work for your company instead of someone else?
  • How do you find pools of potential candidates (internal and external)?   What methods do you use to market job opportunities to them?  How well do these work?

Hiring for Potential & Culture

  • What are the core cultural values of your company?  How are these values used to guide staffing, promotion, and compensation decisions?
  • What tools do you use to assess candidates for cultural fit and long-term potential?  How do you ensure these tools are accurate?

Technology Enabled HCM/Easier HR

  • How do you plan to incorporate mobile technology into your HCM processes over the coming years?  How are you using it now?
  • What HCM processes could most benefit from better technology in terms of making them easier to use?

HR Legislation – New

  • How will the new labor laws in the US pertaining to exempt vs. non-exempt job classifications and/or healthcare coverage impact your organization?
  • What steps are required to ensure your company complies with data privacy laws in Europe and other countries?   How do you stay on top of changing HCM legislation around the world?

Measuring & Rewarding Performance – New

  • How do you identify high performing employees?  How can you be certain that your company is investing the most resources in those people who are contributing most to the organization?
  • What methods do you use to address employees who you want to keep but who are not putting in adequate effort for one reason or another (not the bottom 3%, but the bottom 30%)

Developing Talent Pools

  • How do you use social networks to stay in touch with former employees and connect with colleagues of current employees?
  • What methods do you use to build internal talent pools?

Improving Collaboration – New

  • What tools and resources are available to employees and managers to help them build more effective teams?
  • How do team members in your company provide feedback and coaching to one another?  How could this be improved?

Virtual Organizations

  • How many of your hires come from different countries or geographical locations?  Are you over or under-hiring in certain markets?
  • What methods could you put in place or enhance to ensure your company is taking a global approach to workforce development?

Providing Effective Healthcare – New

  • How does your healthcare strategy compare to those of other companies hiring talent similar to yours?  Does your healthcare offering give you a competitive advantage when hiring?
  • How do you communicate your healthcare offerings to employees? Are they fully aware of what is available and are they taking advantage of it?

Data Driven Decision Making

  • What HCM decisions in your company could most benefit from greater use of empirical data?
  • What is the most effective data driven HCM method in your organization currently?  How can you expand upon this method to improve decisions in other parts of the organization?

Workforce Aging

  • What actions are you or should you be taking to keep older employees engaged and productive in your company?  How can these be improved or expanded upon?
  • What processes are being developed to transfer knowledge between older and younger workers?  How effective are they?  How can they be improved?

Embracing Diversity – New

  • How do you ensure decisions about pay and promotion, particularly in the mid and higher management and leadership levels, are based on employee potential and contributions and are not overly biased against women or people from different ethnic backgrounds?
  • What things has the company done to make it an attractive employer for people with diverse gender and ethnic backgrounds?   How do you know if these are working?

Fluid Organizations

  • How often do you restructure your organization?  What methods are used to minimize the disruption caused by restructuring?   How do you track whether restructurings are successful?
  • What tools can employees use to find and connect with fellow colleagues working on similar projects or in similar areas of expertise? How up to date is your organizational chart? 

Appendix 1.  Predictions from 2004 about the future of HCM

From the paper “Shifts in the Talent Landscape” by Steven Hunt.

Predicted trends affecting HCM

Workplace Polarization into Skilled vs. Unskilled Jobs. As technology continues to be used to automate job tasks, the future economy will become increasingly divided into two almost entirely separate labor markets: the labor market for skilled jobs and the labor market for unskilled jobs.

Scarcity of Skilled Labor.  It is very likely that the US labor market will soon experience a major shortage of skilled labor. In fact, this shortage is already occurring for many skilled jobs.

Workforce Aging. Future staffing strategies will undoubtedly include finding ways to keep older workers in the job market longer, they will also need to pay careful attention to the unique nature of the interests, motives, abilities and constraints frequently found in older workers.

Geographically Distributed Workforces. This trend will

force greater use of staffing strategies that consider talent sources at a national or global level, rather than focusing on only hiring people from certain specific geographical regions.

Increasing Employee Turnover. Increasing levels of employee turnover will require hiring employees who not only have the necessary skills and qualifications to perform the job, but who also exhibit a high level of general fit with the organization. Staffing process must extend past the initial hiring decision and follow employees to the point where they are fully-socialized and committed to the organization.

Shifting Employee Attitudes.  Increased emphasis on having jobs that provide freedom and flexibility to pursue interests outside of work.  Jobs must be designed so that employees do not feel that they have to sacrifice their lives outside of work in order to fulfill their job responsibilities.

Fluid Organizations.  Job tasks and responsibilities often evolve with alarming speed due to rapid technological changes and frequent shifts in organizational structures and responsibilities. Given the increasing rate of organizational change, strategies and methods should not assume that positions within an organization will remain fixed over time.

Internet Staffing.  There are enormous differences in the sophistication and effectiveness of internet staffing methods currently in use. Organizations will have to avail themselves to all of these technologies to compete effectively in the future talent marketplace.

Predicted actions companies will take to respond

Be a Great Place to Work.  determine what employees

want from work and provide these in a financially profitable manner.

Flexible Work Arrangements.  Providing employees

with flexibility around when, where, and how long they work. Whether highly-skilled workers accept

job offers will increasingly depend on whether the jobs are convenient and supportive of their lifestyle.

Virtual Workspaces.  Embrace the concept of virtual workspaces and provide managers and employees with the necessary training and technology needed to work with people anywhere in the world.

Employer Branding.  Coordinated marketing to enhance the company's image and reputation among potential applicants. Processes to screen and select candidates must be positive, job relevant and engaging. Individuals involved in staffing, from recruiters through hiring managers, must be aware that the most important staffing decision may be the candidate's answer to the question "do I want to work for this company"?

Building Talent Pools.  An organization's talent pool should include existing employees.  Organizations should encourage

the use of employee referrals to identify talent pool members outside of the organization.

Scientific Assessment. Scientifically designed assessment tools predict job performance at levels that are usually better than manual judgments made by managers. Organizations should develop strategies to guide the deployment of scientific assessments throughout the company

High Touch Recruitment.  Automating tasks such as

processing administrative information and redirecting time into tasks that require a more "human touch" such as selling candidates on the benefits of the organization.  Automation will change the role that personal relationships play in the staffing, but will never remove the importance of personal contact for building interest and comfort toward an organization.

Competency Based Selection. By relying too much on past experience and knowledge, companies often hire people who have the technical skills traditionally associated with the job but who lack self-management skills that are critical for success. Companies may overlook high-potential candidates who have the right personal capabilities but lack experience.

Hiring for the Organization.  Employees in companies with strong cultures share common beliefs and values that affect how decisions are made and how people treat one another. Corporate cultures that are aligned with a company’s business goals have been associated with greater employee commitment and greater company performance. One key to a strong corporate culture is employees whose motives and beliefs fit the opportunities and environment found within the organization.

Staffing Based on Potential.  Companies that master the art of identifying, hiring and developing candidates based on potential will begin to attract more and more high potential applicants as the company develops a reputation as a great place to build a career.

Broad Band Succession Planning.  Replacing hierarchical succession planning strategies with more flexible, broad based "just-in-time" succession planning techniques as organizational structures become more and more dynamic

Workforce Analytics.   Automation of HR systems is providing unprecedented access to data about workforce changes, applicant flow, employee satisfaction and skills, and staffing needs.  Organizations must leverage advanced workforce analytic methods going beyond reporting simple averages and "production figures" (e.g. time to hire, number of hires filled), and using more sophisticated statistical modeling methods to understand correlations and trends underlying different aspects of the talent management process.

[1] The predictions are called “2015 predictions” because they were made in 2015, although the predictions actually focus on things expected for 2016 and beyond. 

[2] Hunt, S. (2004). Shifts in the talent landscape: 8 trends that are changing staffing and 12 ways companies are responding. Published by Unicru Inc., Portland, OR.


[1] I use the terms HCM (Human Capital Management) and HR (Human Resources) interchangeably.  One could argue they have slightly different meanings, but in my experience they tend to be used largely in the same way.