Gartner Identifies Six Trends for Chief Human Resources Officers That Will Impact How Organizations Experience the Future of Work

Most chief human resources officers (CHROs) are focused on three topics impacting the future of work: AI and automation, the gig economy and an aging yet multigenerational workforce, according to Gartner, Inc. However, Gartner experts said they are missing some key trends.

“While most CHROs expect all three forces to impact their organization in the next three years, only 9% think their organization is prepared for the future of work,” said Brian Kropp, chief of research in the Gartner HR practice. “These CHROs are right as there are other considerations around the future of work that require examination that are receiving much less attention.”Gartner has identified six trends that will shape how organizations experience the future of work:

Unethical Use of Employee Data

Gartner research found that by 2022, 45% of large organizations will identify misuse of employee data, potentially leading to a data scandal that negatively affects employee recruitment, retention and satisfaction.

CHROs will need to take a leadership role in data ethics to protect both the HR function and their organization. HR needs to be particularly vigilant to ensure that health information or performance data, which can have very meaningful impacts on employees, remains private and used appropriately.

Falling Barriers to Access

As AI and emerging technologies reduce barriers to access, organizations have the opportunity to address talent shortages by increasing the accessibility of their work. Gartner research predicts that the number of people with disabilities in the workforce will triple by 2023.

Organizations will need to audit their existing candidate-facing recruiting and internal talent management systems for barriers to access for candidates and employees with physical and mental disabilities. Beyond technology, HR leaders will need to ensure managers receive training in the management of people with mental or emotional disabilities.

Automation of the Manager Role

According to Gartner research, 69% of a manager’s time is spent on activities that could be replaced by existing technology. For example, expense report approval can be replaced with expense management systems and in-the-moment coaching can be replaced with real-time chatbot interventions.

HR leaders will need to work with colleagues in IT to identify the best opportunities to automate manager workflows at their organization. Organizations may decide to reduce the number of managers, or to shift the focus of managers to more strategic tasks. Organizations will need to support career paths that allow employees to extend their degree of responsibility and influence without taking on management tasks.

Elimination of On-the-Job Learning

Nearly all organizations leverage on-the-job learning for employee skills development, which Gartner research revealed is a top priority for 73% of CHROs. However, by 2025, almost half of all internal development opportunities will disappear as on-the-job learning opportunities based on highly repetitive tasks are eliminated.

Organizations may need to return to traditional learning methods, such as live classroom training, to upskill and train employees. HR will also need to find alternative ways to assess when employees are ready for advancement without measuring their ability to complete tasks that will soon be lost to automation.

Radical Transparency

Seventy-one percent of employees think their employers should increase their transparency, and Gartner analysis finds that by 2025, most organizations will meet this request.

Employees will push for transparency faster than organizations can provide it, and organizations that are communicative about their efforts to move toward transparency, or about their reasons for resisting it, will be more successful at retaining employees. HR leaders should evaluate the potential reputational and engagement risks and proactively plan how to address them.

Rising Demand for Remote Work

By 2030, the demand for remote work will increase by 30% due to Gen Z fully entering the workforce. Gartner’s most recent ReimagineHR Employee Survey found that only 56% of managers permit their employees to work remotely. Organizations without a progressive remote-work policy will be at a competitive disadvantage for attracting and retaining talent.

“To remain competitive in today’s work-from-anywhere environment, companies will need to invest in responsive technology infrastructure and enhanced virtual collaboration tools, as well as training and tailored performance management and incentive strategies for remote workers,” said Emily Rose McRae, director in the Gartner HR practice.

Additional information on how organizations and HR leaders can address these trends is available in the Gartner report, “2020 Future of Work Hidden Trends.”