2020 in HR

2020 is coming – can you believe it?
Me neither! In today’s business world things move so quickly. Technology consistently drives change and innovation keeps us on our toes. HR is no exception, keeping up with new trends, innovations and changes in policy can be exhausting; but I’m here to help.

We’re fast forwarding three months to 2020 to have a look at what you need to be aware of and ready for:

The term HR

Can you believe trends and developments have actually had an impact on HR as a term? We all know that HR stands for Human Resources and this in recent years has become stale, old fashioned and comes with the implication that people are a resource to be used just like machinery.

Companies have begun to redefine the term HR, replacing it with phrases like ‘People Operations’, ‘Happiness Officers’, ’People & Culture’ and more. I can almost hear everyone’s eyes rolling at once!

But these changes should be embraced. They reflect the new era of HR. An era that’s sole purpose is to look after your team (and therefore your bottom line). Be careful though—if you are swapping HR with a new term don’t just choose a snazzy word for the sake of it—make sure the departments’ name reflects the work it’s doing.

Technology: Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

RPA in a short, non scary way, is simply a means to automate business process. In HR terms RPA systems will have the largest impact on automating the recruitment process. RPA will automatically shortlist candidates by gathering files involved in an application process and comparing them with a list of job requirements. Offer letters will become an automated process which are personalised to the person, the role, and legally compliant with a click of a button. Onboarding will become less of a nightmare.


When a new member of staff joins the team, data from several systems must be coordinated in order to create a new user account, email address, access rights for applications, IT equipment, etc… RPA will make this an automated process in which a user account is created with all the correct rights attached and departments notified.

Technology: Virtual Reality (VR)

VR creates a realistic 3D image or environment and whilst not currently widely used in the HR world, future use is on the way. Whether it is to test a candidates skills level as part of an interview process or to create real life situational training, learning and development; VR will enhance the current role of HR in an organisation.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Whilst probably the most understood ‘future’ tech, the real integration of AI in our world is still some way off, but when it comes it’s going to come fast!

AI systems can understand speech, identify photos, pick up signals on mood, honesty, understand personalities, analyse and compare millions of pieces of data in seconds. So you can just imagine the implications of hiring, staff morale, training, development and leadership that AI will have.

Whilst you don’t need to master all of the new technology available, you do need to keep an eye on them and have somewhat of an understanding as to how they work.

Many technologies are now transitioning from ‘expensive risk’ to ‘essential tool’ and some will completely revolutionise the way we work. Don’t worry though technology won’t lead to all of us being unemployed, but instead will free up our time to perform different tasks. The workplace will become more about output than hours spent doing menial tasks as it too often becomes, which takes me onto the next trend.

New Work

The term ‘new work’ describes the amalgamation of attitudes, trends and developments that have seen us enter into a new world of work.

Societies perception of work is changing.  As the younger generation become workers, managers, leaders and employers, more people than ever are subscribing to the idea that it doesn’t matter how many hours you spend at your desk, what matters is the end result, your values and your engagement with the company.

People do love to complain about the generation that is ‘the Millennials’ but they are mostly the main drivers of this positive workforce change and its time to get on board if you are not already.

All about the people

By now I’ve established that there are a lot of changes coming. Getting people on board (yes, I’m talking about change management) is going to be tough.

Traditionally, staff have been seen as a cost rather than appreciated as the money makers in a business. This has changed. Now we realise that employees are the ones who are on the ‘shop floor.’

They have first-hand experience of company structure, systems, products and services. They know what works well and what doesn’t. They have the power to streamline systems and make changes for the better.

In light of this, more and more organisations are focussing on their employee experience. This includes all elements of the employee lifecycle from attracting and hiring talent to steering performance and development to offboarding and exiting.

Analyse Analyse Analyse

As technology makes jobs less time consuming our focus will switch to analysing data and implementing changes in the workforce.

Now when I say analyse, I don’t mean just read and report, I mean really understand the story behind the figures.  For example, say your organisations churn rate went down—great!

But why? Did you implement better training? Did staff become friends through social events? Did you hire better?

Knowing this will mean you can hopefully replicate this in the future.

The future for HR is exciting! We are finally going to have less ‘task’ based roles and be able to focus on what we got into HR for—the people.

As always if you need to speak to someone about an HR issue you can get in touch on HR@stepscotland.co.uk.

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