It’s a new world with new rules!

I have been an HR professional for 20+ years in high-tech software and professional consulting organizations ranging from startups to large global organizations. Never before have I seen a shift in HR as large as the shift we are about to embark on in the next 5 to 10 years. Everything we know about our HR business is changing. We must all evolve. We must think differently. We must act differently. And we must focus on impact.

What is changing?

We all know that “change is constant.” When we look at how the business world will evolve over the next five years, this cliché becomes a reality. Just look at the changing demographics. We now have five generations working together. By 2025, it is predicted that Millennials will be 75 percent of the workforce, requiring us to engage, develop, and retain this new generation of talent in new ways. The business landscape operates at the speed of light, and people can do business anywhere and everywhere. There are now more mobile devices in the world than there are people. If it’s not mobile ready, don’t bother. Technology and socio-economic shifts are reshaping the way we do business.

What impact does this have on HR?

Although the way we do business is shifting, one thing that remains constant is people. People are at the center of business, in every industry, in every country, in every company across the world. The positive news is HR is at the center of our people. But how we/HR support our people must shift. Our brand and purpose is changing significantly. Gone are the days of back-office HR. HR is no longer simply a function of compliance and risk management. HR is all about helping organizations and leaders achieve desired business outcomes through people. Our sole purpose is to strengthen the alliance between employee and employer and ensure we collectively achieve our shared vision. We are a strategic function, much like a strategy office for a company. We are responsible for building our People strategy to attract (right people), engage (right things), and retain (right rewards) the best talent possible.

With these changes comes a need for new skills. The changing world of work will demand HR professionals who are agile and have the ability to adapt and lead change. Transformation, leadership, and strategy are the core skills of the future. In addition to these core skills, we will need to shift our mindset. We need to think BIG, start small, and move fast. At the core of “thinking big” are big thinking leaders. I find that setting big goals helps people to think differently and push themselves to limits they never thought possible. This is what makes SAP such a special place. We think big and we go for it, celebrating small accomplishments along the way. This trend will continue to grow and leaders of this calibre will be in high demand within HR.
In addition to strong leaders, we need to foster a culture of continual learning. It is my fear that our workforce of the future will not have the skills needed to meet our future business goals. To get ready for this change, we have an obligation to put systems in place that perpetuate learning and collaboration. While we don’t have a crystal ball to predict the future, we can build the right skills – particularly in areas such as cloud, analytics, and big data – that allow us to adapt to the future, no matter what the outcome.

The time for change is now. Our people are demanding it. Be bold in providing solutions that challenge the status quo by being a trusted advisor, driving change, and running with the business. You can respond to change by accelerating talent, leadership, and igniting a love of learning.

This article is published in collaboration with The SAP Community Network. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.

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Author: Brigette McInnis-Day is a writer at SAP.

Image: A new graduate is seen. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao.