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Disruption Hits Human Resources Management

14 Sep 2017
Sarah Ferguson

Human Resources Management

A new disruptive outlook for HR focuses on talent

Like many other markets it seems the days of a traditional HR function are numbered. The disruption that has altered the face of many other industries is starting to impact on the world of HR. Here, Sarah Brown, Principal Consultant at Eden Scott takes a closer look at future of HR and the changes we can expect to see. 

As with all workplace revolutions, technology is at the heart of this change encouraging a new generation to think differently, act differently and produce a more effective, efficient businesses. But is everyone ready for the change and what can we expect to come thundering down the tracks? 

Strategic Impact 

As businesses focus on becoming even more lean, effective operations and the battle for talent intensifies, those in C-Suite roles are assigning increased significance to the role of HR leaders, or as they may soon be known, Talent Value Leaders. 

It has taken a while but many businesses are now identifying with the long-held belief amongst HR professionals that greater success comes from recognising the value of your staff and that your team is your greatest asset. However, with this added significance comes the need to quantify this value and link the development of this talent more directly to business results and a return on investment. 

The recognition that a competitive advantage can be gained by a more focused approach to the management of talent has encouraged businesses to look at the structure of their HR teams and how they can drive this value rather than reacting to changes when they happen.

A recent McKinsey report however, has highlighted that for this change to take place there needs to be a shift in focus for those working in the HR function, and this has to be recognised by senior staff. 

Technology Changing HR

One of the main issues holding HR teams back from refocusing on talent development is the administration that dominates their working day. Recent research highlighted that this could account for up to 60% of their time. The day to day tasks of completing the necessary paperwork or getting caught up with the transactional aspects of their role means the time to focus on really developing talent and looking at the long-term needs of the organisation is significantly reduced.

There are a number of technological advances that are helping companies reduce time spent on the transactional aspects of their role by up to 20%. There are businesses who have automated their whole employee joining process. From pre-hire assessments to interviewing, on-boarding and training, this is all being done remotely. The use of mobile apps to provide the right information, answer pressing questions and link to local mentors is reducing the pressure on central HR teams. 

IBM are leading the way with this using artificial intelligence to take their new employees through the whole process, even adapting into the local language

People Analytics

Freeing up time to focus on talent development does however mean there is now a need to have a more robust programme of analytics linking success to corporate objectives. This is where the value of people analytics has really grown. This is an area of technology that has been developing over the last decade but has made significant strides in the last year or so. 

There are a number of companies such as Oracle and SuccessFactors that have built models with complex algorithms that can provide the data needed to make more insightful decision around the talent in the organisation. 

For succession planning it has reduced the reliance on an anecdotal review of skills, competencies and personality factors (with the unavoidable gut feeling thrown in) and instead uses machine learning to understand the key factors of that specific role to produce a shortlist of potential candidates with development plans that will improve the likelihood of success.

The other advantage is in predicting turnover and managing the process effectively. The losses incurred during downtime when a talented employee leaves is a major concern for business. If people analytics can predict likely changes based on historic data it can ensure the HR team are more prepared to deal with it. 


It is a hugely exciting time for HR teams. The technological advances that are infiltrating the industry are giving people back the time they need to really focus on developing their teams to help them find real fulfilment in their role and in turn deliver real success for the business. 

However, it is going to take some getting used to. Embrace it and you’ll never look back.


Sarah Ferguson
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