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What Will HR Look Like in 50 Years?

In 50 years, the little Oliver’s, Zoey’s, and Jackson’s born today will be our country’s top CEOs. The U.S. will be a pluralistic society with no ethnic majority. Technology will be so pervasive, it will simply just “be.” And recruiting? That will be an entirely new ballgame. What does this mean to the HR profession?  We asked Caroline Valentine, president of ValentineHR in Austin, TX, to think big by helping us consider that very question.

Who’s In Charge?

By 2063, the Millennial Generation (also known as Gen Y) will be retiring and the Pluralist Generation (or Gen Z) will be taking the helm. It’s hard to say what managerial style these leaders will exhibit. After all, the oldest among them are just now entering middle school. But here’s what we do know: Members of this generation are “plurals” because they will be living and working in this country’s very first pluralistic society. By 2042, the U.S. population is expected to be less than 50 percent Caucasian, creating a society in which there simply isn’t an ethnic majority. From an HR perspective, how might this affect diversity initiatives in the workplace?

“If you take a step back, you’ll see that with every wave of immigration to the U.S., there has been discrimination in the workforce,” Valentine explains. On gender and other demographic issues as well, the U.S. workforce has proven a ‘two steps forward, one step back’ approach to embracing diversity. “Based on that fact alone, diversity initiatives will continue no matter what. There will always be groups of folks who think, act or appear different than the ‘norm.’”

What Will the HR Department Look Like?

We’ve already experienced the “downsizing” of the traditional HR department. Earlier this year, TLNT gathered a laundry list of reasons for this, including better technology and processes that will allow transactional tasks to either be outsourced or inputted easily by the employees themselves. On the other side of the spectrum, the increasing global workforce and regulations are turning employment and benefits administration into complicated minefields. According to a recent survey by the Institute for Corporate Productivity, this will free up the HR professional for more strategic and advisory work.

“HR used to be about managing personnel and administration. There was less regulation to deal with, and more manufacturing jobs that came with a predictable chain of command and career path,” Valentine says. “The HR professional of the future will certainly be a business partner. Time that was spent planning office parties will be instead spent on high-level strategic workforce planning, a role that has been traditionally held by accounting and finance executives.”

How Will We Recruit?

“When Monster.com and other job boards came onto the scene 20 years ago, recruiters predicted that they would destroy the recruiting profession. The same thing was true for LinkedIn,” laughs Valentine.

But here we are in 2013: LinkedIn has completely revolutionized the job search process in less than a decade, and the recruiting profession couldn’t be stronger. As the New York Times recently raved, perfect profiles and passive candidates abound on LinkedIn alone. In fact, we’ve already hit a near critical mass when it comes to accessing information that can lead to a great job candidate pool. The problem: Sifting through the myriad data and then recruiting the ideal candidates who usually aren’t actively seeking new jobs. That’s one reason job recruiters and executive headhunters will continue to have job security.

Another reason recruiters will continue to have skin in the game, points out Valentine, is that companies may continue the trend toward fast growth and fast buyouts, which also means reliance on temp staffing and outside recruiters.

Who Will Win the Talent?

How will companies attract new talent and retain star performers? Anticipate engagement and gamification throughout the hiring process. As talent assessment scientist Dr. Charles Handler puts it, “Those entering the workforce in the near future will expect to be entertained and engaged at a meaningful level.”

The reasons for this, Valentine explains, are apparent when one studies the education system. “By 2020, our workforce will be dominated by Millennials who were taught to not simply take orders, but to try to understand the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of everything that they do throughout their formative years,” Valentine explains. “They are the ultimate collaborators, they’re come to expect disruption…and all of this they learned at a young age.”

Since the HR professional of 2063 is currently in elementary school, there are clues that can be gleaned already in the way that these children are being taught to learn and behave. For some experts, that means a utilization of tech that is unimaginable, even by today’s standards.

What Does Your Crystal Ball Show?

We’d love your feedback on the future of HR. How do you think Millennials will shape the workforce for future generations? And how do you think today’s small children will innovate the profession years from now? Is there anything about your profession you hope will change? Share your ideas with us!

Image credit: sellingpix / 123RF Stock Photo