The Future of OD/HR: Humans!


Fear is a common human emotion when we hear that the "current trend could lead to a net unemployment impact of more than 5.2 million jobs lost to disruptive labour market changes over the 2015-2020" (World Economic Forum, 2017). The World Economic Forum (WEF) published a report in January 2016 entitled The Future of Jobs: Employment, Skills, and Workforce Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. I highly recommend reading the literature on this topic. I was introduced to this concept and believe it is spot on as a predictor of our future.

A little backstory about the WEF, the Founder and Executive Chairman is Professor Klaus Schwab. In 1998, with his wife Hilde, he created the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, which seeks to identify, recognize and disseminate initiatives in social entrepreneurship that have significantly improved people’s lives and have the potential to be replicated on a global scale. The Foundation supports a network of over 350 social entrepreneurs around the world.

As an entrepreneur (with background in profit and social entrepreneurship) I was drawn to know more about Professor Klaus and WEF. One of the factors I think, we as humans forget, is that our own creativity processes have been directing our future. There has been a shift in the past few years to Think Human, Be Human, Work Human. FYI, The Work Human Conference is one of those initiatives that reminds HR/OD professionals is that we are the thought leaders of our own destiny.

Recently, I spoke at a student SHRM chapter conference at Rollins College and addressed The Future of HR/OD. What does that look like for us as professionals? How does technology, big data, innovation all impact us as humans? Are we working side-by-side with robots like the image above? It should, because that is what we see in science fiction literature, movies, and around us currently.

I addressed four areas where innovation is visibly seen in 2018; and we, as HR/OD professionals, may or may not be using this technology in our companies and business practices.

The four areas presented and shared at the conference are listed below. For purposes of this post, I will break them up into separate posts.

  1. Skills that will be in demand by 2020 (right around the corner),

  2. The use of automation and technology in the workplace,

  3. Big Data's increasing demand, and

  4. The future of work.

According to the World Economic Forum, the top 10 skills in demand by 2020 have shifted since 2015. The red text indicates areas we should focus on as professionals to help prepare educational partners and also implement in our work culture.

This is significant because it requires that HR professionals hone their skills now to be competitive in the workplace regardless if internal or external to the organization. Where to begin? I recommended to the students attending the conference to spend their electives on courses that addressed topics from a holistic business approach.

  • Economics: to better understand their role in our global economy and trends.