HR strategy: fast-forward to 2022

by Peter Shreeve
It’s 2022. As the HR director of a large corporate you are writing your HR strategy for the next year and you begin by reflecting on the last 10-15 years of change.

Since the economic crisis of 2008 demand for goods and services has never recovered - year on year growth is poor. Self-employment across all types of occupations has risen every year. Corporate objectives have been driven by financial imperatives to contain costs resulting in more contractors than employees - ratio of 2:1. The ethnic diversity of contractors and salaried employees continues apace as technology allows workers to collaborate using the super cloud through multiple devices. The majorities of employees work from home and use chatrooms for scheduled meetings. The strategic initiative in 2015 to sponsor students in the emerging economies has given rise to a workforce of highly talented individuals. This has placed some pressure on your internal IT system as communication across continents is critical to creating a competitive advantage.

Recruitment strategy

Your recruitment strategy has had to accommodate the fact that prospective employees feel empowered in choosing where to work and current employees on who to bring into the company. Networking to find work has reached a whole new level. Finding and selecting candidates for specific roles or to work on projects is never a problem. LinkedInGooglePlus is embedded in the company and you have access to a global pool of talent recommended by existing workers. As a consequence you have closed your corporate careers site and recruitment agency fees are minimal. Recruitment agencies in turn are struggling to survive, many of whom went bust in 2018. Recruiters who recognised the importance of building relationships with candidates as well as employers are the only ones to survive. They are a new breed of super-networkers who act as matchmakers.

Employees' personal profiles are up to date and accurate in representing their capabilities so that they can be accurately matched to job opportunities. Whilst www.glassdoor.com is now used globally to assess poor employers, www.transparency.com now provides a service that cross compares employee profiles on different sites to spot anomalies and highlight gaps in information. Both good and poor references are analysed and reports produced at the click of a button. www.peoplehour.com is used extensively to find and use workers for short-term projects. You coordinate a roster of approved hourly rate suppliers.

Very few job interviews take place. Alogorithms match employees to roles, networked employees recommend and endorse choices. Employees' ability to do the job and fit in with the culture is either automatically verified or taken for granted. Loyalty is no longer considered important as the company demands a more flexible employee pool. The three key questions recruiters asked of future employees either directly or through CV reviews are less relevant now. "Can you do the job?" and "Will you fit in?" are assumed, and the latter is less important as companies exist in a more virtual environment. The demands of flexibility mean "Will you stay?" is replaced with "Will you work with us again?"

Compensation and benefits

The growth in contractors is causing some problems when it comes to compensation and benefits. It is a real struggle to ensure that the typical disparity between contract rates and employee salaries plus benefits does not cause a problem with the more permanent employee base. There is pressure to put everyone on contract with holiday entitlement but to reduce the contract rate. The challenge is to work out the tipping point that will allow this to happen. Should the company go first and lead or will it lose its key contractors to the competition?

Corporate Social and Employee Responsibility

Your contribution to the CSER programme highlights the importance to workers of giving something back to the community and to be involved in mentoring programmes to other employees but also the millions of unemployed. The London Olympics of 2012 kick started a more community based feel to working that future governments sought to nurture and encourage. The UK took the lead with the US in tow.

Back to the future

It's 2012. You have been asked to develop a 10 year HR strategy. You need to get to grips with the Technological, Social and Economic trends that are likely to impact the world of work. You need to understand the importance of and the shift between employer empowerment to employee empowerment. You need to consider how the recruitment processes will change and your function has less control over employee selection and acts more of a facilitator. You need to consider how your role becomes more strategic and facilitative rather than tactical and recruitment led.

Thinking through and anticipating these trends will help to ensure the sustainability of organisations in the next 10 years as access to the global talent pool expands and certain trends take hold.

Peter Shreeve is independent research consultant.

Useful resources:
HR Magazine
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