HR office for New World ought to change tack fast

The millennials are multi-skilled and think beyond a single job description. FILE photo | nmg
The millennials are multi-skilled and think beyond a single job description. FILE photo | nmg 

The human resource practice is under siege. Its two main publics, the consumer and the staffer, have been transformed over the past decade and a half. Customer behaviour and consumption patterns have changed and businesses can no longer manage human resource in the same way.

The advent of connectivity, coming of age of the millennials and the birth of digital natives has shifted the expectations of the employee.

Employment at its most basic is an exchange of time for monetary value at the end of an agreed time.

Talent is now coming to the workplace multi-skilled; having been sold on versatility but also unshackled from the single track train of thought that had older generations convinced and contained by a career path mentality; job security and pensions as the end goal.

They are restless and feel that singular job descriptions do not maximise their potential, yearning for more control of their time and also having bigger asks on remuneration.

Talent faces an imminent threat from technology though. Machine learning and artificial intelligence are making short work of tasks that would have taken human minders hours or days to do.

From legal practice, healthcare, financial services to other routine production line jobs, machines and software are taking over. This will obviously lead to a season of job losses before normalisation happens.

These shifts hardly happen in one fell swoop and keen organisations apply themselves actively towards being ready. For starters, they look at how they can replace jobs, not people by making available opportunities for up-skilling and reassignment.

They experiment early with new models such as outsourcing and remote work where they are better positioned to achieve a higher return on time per employee.

They invest in tooling and infrastructure for the new ways of work. Since the customer has also changed, the most critical strategic move any organisation would make is to rethink core products and the DNA of the company, for example, how to interface millennial and established talent to distill a new workplace culture.

Going forward, leaner workforces on differentiated contracts, will have to serve much larger client bases and often be faceless.