Here’s what HRs can do to prepare and how can it stay relevant in these uncertain times:
1. Get employees on side
The most important task for HR will be to change internal perceptions and shift the attitudes of employees about the impact that automation and digitisation will have on their jobs. Clear communication is essential here to bring them on board. The more open employees will be to this change, the easier it will be for the HR to implement it.
2. Become a ‘contingent champion’
We have often heard of HR being a strategic partner to organisations but besides being a strategic partner, HR will also need to become a contingent champion. This means that the HR policies and practices will need to be more agile, adaptable and flexible to prepare for any contingencies that employees and the organisation may encounter both internally and externally. Whether it’s transitioning from physical to remote work, or training employees to operate machines in a virtual environment – it’s essential to be prepared. HR needs to build agility and resilience to thrive in an environment of constant change.
3. Invest in training
One of the most critical areas for HR will be to constantly make sure that it devotes resources (e.g. capital, time, technology) to re-skilling and upskilling employees to prepare them for new tasks, roles and jobs. For example, HR will need to deliver online training using new technologies (like virtual reality or artificial intelligence) to impart new cognitive and technical skills, such as, complex problem-solving, analytical thinking, emotional intelligence, innovation, system analysis, technology installation and so on. Additionally, they may also partner with universities to provide digital education opportunities as part of their career development programmes. As new tools, technologies and systems are constantly adopted by organisations, HR will also need to constantly train and retrain the workforce.
4. Deliver ongoing support
HR’s role in providing continued ongoing support, psychological and mental wellbeing and a positive employee experience will be critical in managing the disruptions that industry 4.0 will bring.
For many organisations, this will mean addressing HR grievances, providing individual support and delivering a seamless experience by breaking departmental barriers. Team collaboration tools like WhatsApp For Business or Workplace From Facebook could offer HR the opportunity to support employees in a more personal way, in real time
5. Adjust to new regulations quickly
With all of this new technology will come increased regulation, some of which may pertain to the use of technology or data, and some to employee rights, for example. As these new regulations get introduced, updated or changed, the HR will quickly need to assess their implications for the workforce and will have to adopt and adjust to them in a timely manner.
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