HR Survey | Will HR survive or thrive in the Information Age?

Will HR survive or thrive in the Information Age?

The need for HR teams to upskill and reskill has never been greater. The profession is evolving, with the job descriptions of the future requiring a very different set of skills.

The question is, what must HR teams do to stay at the forefront of technological change? Take part in our global survey and share your views.

A decade ago, did we understand how the roles in HR would change due to the breakthroughs in technology? Back then, ‘analytics’ had replaced the word ‘metrics’ at conferences, yet the work by the Saratoga Institute and Jac Fitz-Enz was still largely considered the quintessential thinking in the field. Most people in HR had experience with an HRIS. Many will remember the move to adopt PeopleSoft or a similar large system, often adopted in conjunction with restructuring the HR department to the Target Operating Model, commonly attributed to Dave Ulrich. Had we been told then about the roles which appeared in the recent Cognizant report, such as Algorithm Bias Auditor, Chatbot & Human Facilitator and Gig Economy Manager, most of us would have thought them farfetched, we certainly would not have considered preparing ourselves for them.

The Reskilling Revolution

The World Economic Forum has been highlighting the need for reskilling for at least 5 years. In January 2020, just ahead of the pandemic, they announced the Reskilling Revolution, “an initiative to provide one billion people with better education, skills and jobs by 2030”. With the acceleration of business digitalisation triggered by Covid-19, the need to reskill has never been greater. As businesses change, so do the expectations of HR. The profession is evolving, with the job descriptions of the future requiring a vastly different set of skills than those of the past. This evolution highlights two issues for today’s HR professional; how much time, money and effort must they dedicate to development beyond their current capabilities, and on what topics should they focus?

What do we know so far?

Recent research in Asia paints an interesting picture. To discover how HR professionals in the region are preparing themselves for the future and their development focus for 2021, People Collider and Thrive HR Exchange partnered to conduct a survey, "HR Skills and Development for the Information Age". Results were concentrated in Singapore where 70% of the respondents were based. Most of the HR professionals surveyed (mostly generalists - 76%) have been investing time in their own development; only a quarter did not participate in any development activities over the previous 12 months. Approximately half (52%) spent more than 20 hours on development activities, but those efforts were primarily spent on familiar topics, HR and Leadership, and less than a third was spent on less familiar yet critical skills for the new world of work; Analytics and Technology.

It's time to shift focus

The results suggest HR understands investing in core capabilities is not the right approach for 2021. Over 62% thought it was “very important” or “critical” that HR understands new and emerging technologies. Not surprisingly, over the next 12 months most indicated that their development activities will focus on Technology and Analytics.

What does the global landscape look like?

To help global HR professionals plan their personal and team development activities, People Collider, Thrive HR Exchange and BPS are partnering to extend the survey globally. In less than 10 minutes you can share your own views on "HR Skills and Development for the Information Age" and receive a report of the Asia results and the global report when released in return.


Technology and data have changed the capabilities needed by HR professionals and are fast becoming a significant part of HR’s remit. While on-the-job learning is valuable, project opportunity and quality limits the capabilities that can be developed on-the-job. Some people make use of open online learning such as Coursera and others by attending training programs. However, courses can also be a source of frustration, providing irrelevant information and examples in unfamiliar contexts, compounding confusion rather than facilitating clarity. Accessing the right courses is contingent upon the ability of HR professionals to know what they do not know. Being aware of one’s learning needs is a prerequisite for self-directed development.

It’s time to lead the digital agenda

Reskilling and upskilling is critical for ongoing employability. Nevertheless, some HR professionals have yet to undertake training themselves, even while they help reskill employees. To lead the digital agenda, HR teams need to show initiative and take responsibility for their own learning. Without driving their own learning and development journey, HR professionals are in danger of being left behind.

In less than 10 minutes you can complete the "HR Skills and Development for the Information Age" survey and receive both the Asia and Global reports. The survey closes on 28th February 2021.

Take part in the survey

Author: Philippa “Pip” Penfold, CEO, People Collider

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