Previously known as Personnel in the 1980’s, the HR sector is shifting again, evolving into People teams, a Sage report found. The workforce itself is undergoing its own changes, becoming more mobile, technologically-enabled, and diverse, with five different generations working together.

Amid a technologically disruptive work environment, employees struggle with productivity, but low unemployment rates makes keeping and motivating talent crucial. Sage’s Changing the Face of HR report, released on Wednesday, found that HR leaders are prioritizing the creation of better employee experiences, which 92% of respondents said is important for motivating productivity.

SEE: Recruiting and hiring top talent: A guide for business leaders (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

By focusing on employee experience, the role of HR will become known as People leader, the report found. The majority (94%) of the 500 HR professionals surveyed expect to see HR to People transformation changes in the next three to five years, and nearly half (47%) said these changes will be significant. An overwhelming 82% of HR leaders said that this shift will make their roles unrecognizable in 10 years.

Some 18% of HR and People leaders said they feel they’ve already made the shift from HR to People. The report defined People Companies as organizations, “where business leaders know the critical importance of investing in their people, and attracting and retaining the best, in order
to drive company growth.” In these companies, HR leaders and teams must embrace new roles, responsibilities, and skill sets, according to the report.

Technology will also play a massive role in the HR transformation: 79% of HR leaders ranked technological changes and its impact on the workplace as one of the drivers for these changes, the report found.

Examples of different ways HR will begin to work included flexible working, data-driven decision making, and continuous performance management. Nearly 70% of respondents said they expect employees’ expectations of HR to completely change in the next three years, reflecting the significant changes HR itself will undergo.

To create better employee experiences, HR leaders are changing the way they hire, the report found. More than a third (38%) of HR and People teams want to create a seamless candidate journey from recruitment to onboarding, making the talent acquisition process enjoyable and smooth. Some 56% of HR and People teams said they are adopting automation and artificial intelligence (AI) technology to aid the recruitment process.

The tech side of People teams

Real-time analytics will play a huge role in the function of People teams, the report found. Currently, 42% of People decisions are data driven, but 51% said they plan on accessing data in real time within a year. The report referred to this data as People Science, or an approach of data science that garners insight into people.

Other top tech priorities for HR teams included cloud (43%) and mobile technology (36%). However, 42% of HR leaders are concerned about their organizations’ ability to keep up with technology changes in the next 10 years.

“It’s clear that while many companies are adopting new technologies and making advancements within their HR departments on their journey towards a ‘People’ function, just as many remain resistant to invest,” Paul Burrin, vice president of Sage People, said in a press release. “Although our research reveals that 53% of HR leaders are currently struggling to make the business case for change, how HR departments recruit, onboard employees, engage their workers and encourage productivity plays a vital role in the future of work. Companies ignore this at their own peril.”

If companies want to land competitive talent, they must support and facilitate the HR to People transformation, the report noted. By creating people-focused HR teams, companies will be able to keep up with the evolving workscape.

For more, check out Why AI could be the tool your HR team needs to hire and retain the best talent on TechRepublic.

Also see

vladans, Getty Images/iStockphoto