Reshaping the Future of Work in 2018



Today’s we are facing significant new technology and cultural forces, from artificial intelligence, workforce fluidity, and hyperpersonalization, to the demand for equity and inclusion. These phenomena are reshaping the future of work, resulting in three megatrends for HR to prepare for in 2018: people-first AI, highly individualized leadership, and achieving breakthrough diversity and inclusion.

Of these three megatrends, cloud-based AI and related technologies such as machine learning, natural language processing, image recognition, and virtual reality, will likely have the biggest impact on HR in 2018, changing the dynamic among people, work, and communication.

In 2018, companies will migrate from AI focused solely on automating tasks formerly performed by people to more complex technologies augmenting and amplifying human intelligence and capability. This next evolution of AI underlines the assistive role of the technology to enhance human performance, by allowing people to scale and undertake more tasks, rather than replacing human skills and experiences.

The application of AI in the world of HCM reinforces the role of human intelligence in solving problems individually and collectively. HR managers will use people-first AI and machine learning to better understand how to motivate employees, effectively recruit and retain talent, and improve employee experiences at work. For example, AI can alert managers to increasingly negative sentiment in employee feedback within a particular office facing a morale issue, or suggest ways to reword a job posting to be more inclusive.

The second megatrend is hyper-personalization—the need for leaders to focus on each employee, as opposed to one-size-fits-all corporate leadership models.  An astonishing 95% of people want to feel whole at work—free to be their authentically unique selves. Today’s workers prefer a culture in which leaders seek to develop the whole person, with a deep understanding that different individuals need different styles of management.

To lead effectively, leaders must nurture their employee’s cognitive and emotional development (beyond the organization’s typical physically focused wellness offerings) to guide meaningful, purposeful, and productive work and careers. The most effective managers will adapt their personal management styles to the individuals they manage to motivate their success at work. 

HR will continue to take trailblazing strides in diversity, equity, and inclusion, and the fair treatment of all employees. However, DE&I initiatives will have to go beyond HR into the mainstream of every organization, aided by new tools and knowledge of neuroscience. A workforce culture in which everyone feels they belong and can be authentically themselves requires a broader consideration and mind shift from largely compliance-driven D&I models.

Rather than merely consider D&I as a must-do initiative or a socially responsible action to become an employer of choice, organizations will increasingly come to realize the better business performance and innovation that derives from human diversity.

Increasingly, the use of virtual technologies will allow organizations to overcome unconscious bias in the work experience (recruiting, performance management, and pay equity), creating workplaces that are broadly inclusive beyond traditional categories of diversity.


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