The Future of Work for Human Resources

Exploring the ways HR will evolve as the future of work unfolds

Business owners and leaders are tasked with responding to the relentless pace of change in their organisations. The challenges of the past few years have accelerated the pace significantly. But to what extent will these continued changes impact the evolution of the role of Human Resources in the organisation?

Continued developments in technology and specifically Artificial Intelligence (AI) are sweeping the globe and as a result reorganising the structure and design of roles and responsibilities from the Boardroom, to the Mailroom. What will this mean for HR in the future of your organisation, here we explore the developments and the possibilities as the future unfolds.

How is Artificial Intelligence reshaping the business landscape?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is not one thing alone. The rich combination of a number of different technologies that operate and collaborate together in  a way that can emulate human-like levels of intelligence. The evolution of AI varies depending on the specific technology and its combination of automation, analytics and data. 

The lexicon of AI is vast and developing and in many ways, inclusive of terms that business owners and leaders may not yet be familiar with. The descriptors provide an insight into what the function of AI is delivering in a particular context.

Narrow AI, sometimes known as weak AI,  is what most people, both in business and within their personal lives are interacting with in their day to day lives. Performing a single task or simple correlated tasks that work together. The features of narrow AI can be found amongst applications that drive efficiencies and handle one specific function or activity. 

Narrow AI is a term used to describe artificial intelligence systems that are specified to handle a singular or limited task | Source:

Narrow AI in business is typically leveraged in tools that can filter emails or become a digital assistant like Siri. The AI algorithm of Siri elicits the functions of machine learning to the mobile platform.

Machine learning provides humans with an enormous number of benefits today

Furthermore Machine Learning is the process whereby technology learns independently of being programmed by a human being. The fabrication of algorithms within machine learning enables advanced predictions to be made by the technology and ‘learn’ through experience. 

General AI, sometimes referred to as strong AI is akin to the type of AI depicted in sci-fi stories, films and television shows. The premise of general AI, is that it emulates human intelligence, having the capability to think strategically, creatively, autonomously and tactically. 

This currently theoretical type of AI is one that exists only within the realm of imagination played out in the media. Whilst also being developed and researched into by researchers and technology evangelists. 

Strong AI endeavours to operate and ‘think’ at a level akin to the human mind’s capabilities. Similarly, the evolution of AI, much like a young human being, would require input, experiences and development to progress its abilities over time. 

Sage HR are currently embarking on an exciting project that leverages the capability of machine learning. Sage AI Labs and Sage HR are partnering to develop a tool that provides absenteeism trend forecasting to the leave management capability. As Sage HR’s pre-eminent machine learning powered project, this exciting development has completed its technical rollout and will, over the coming months, be tested using customer research and feedback. 

Machine Learning-powered absenteeism prediction in Sage HR
Machine Learning-powered absenteeism prediction in Sage HR

The effect that AI is having on humanity is inevitably impacting the worlds of business, not for profit organisations and with it human resources. The changes that lay ahead for business leaders and HR activities are predicted to be wide reaching. 

HR jobs of the future

An initiative to determine what the future of work will look like for HR and the kinds of roles, activities and functions that will need to be carried out was led by the Cognizant Centre for the Future of Work. Seeking to determine what the future of work for HR will involve, close to 100 CHROs, Chief Learning Officers and Directors of Human Resources were engaged. Through a series of brainstorming sessions contemplating political, economic, societal, technological, cultural and business aspects, 60 new HR roles were conceived. 

Following this piece of research, Harvard Business Review distilled the list to 21 key HR jobs that they predict will most likely be needed in the immediate future to support organisations. 

While some of the roles HBR identified are entirely new positions, others are new responsibilities that are becoming increasingly important as HR re-imagines and reboots its strategy in light of the pandemic | Source:
While some of the roles HBR identified are entirely new positions, others are new responsibilities that are becoming increasingly important as HR re-imagines and reboots its strategy in light of the pandemic | Source:

The 21 newly defined jobs comprise both brand new roles created with the future of work and technological advancements in mind. In addition, several roles were altered to become reimagined versions of previous more traditional roles. 

Companies that can anticipate their organisation’s future HR roles are not only in a position to outperform competitors, they are also squarely positioning HR as a strategic business driver

Whilst predicted roles could perhaps be interpreted as ones that will apply to larger more complex organisations. For start-up leaders and business owners who strive to remain competitive with a futurist strategy, engaging with developments in both technology and HR that are coming down the track, can pay dividends. 

The predictions for mid to high tech roles predicted to emerge in the next five years include: 

  • Strategic HR Business Continuity Director
  • Chatbot & human facilitator 
  • HR data detective 
  • WFH facilitator 
  • Algorithm bias auditor
  • Human bias-officer 
  • Workplace environment architect 
  • Future of work leader
  • Climate change response leader 

These roles have a specific:

Research team participants posited that despite technological advances there will continue to be a need in organisations for low to mid-tech roles. The predictions for the roles developing in the next five years include: 

  • Second Act Coach 
  • Gig Economy Manager 
  • University for life coordinator 
  • Head of Business Behaviour 

And in the next ten years, the roles predicted to develop include:

  • Distraction prevention coach
  • Chief purpose planner 
  • Director of wellbeing 
  • Employee enablement coach 

Whilst the rage of roles predicted to develop in the future have the potential to become distinct roles in their own right. Ahead of this time, organisations large and small will benefit from thinking strategically about how they can integrate the features and attributes of these roles into their existing HR offering. 

The future is now

As business owners in the ever changing landscape of business and commerce, it’s essential to remain abreast of developments and in many instances ahead of the curve. As the past several years have taught those in business and beyond, the world can change overnight.

Arguably the changes already in existence and coming down the line in technology and business will drive the changes needed in HR to support the very people within organisations that are likely to be impacted as change unfolds. 

With researchers uncovering the effects of AI on HR, findings suggest that whilst the relationship between technology and people at work is changing. That most people both welcome and embrace the changes impacting business owners, managers and HR leaders. 

New study: 64% of people trust a robot more than their manager

Interestingly 50% of workers are already using some form of AI within their work compared to just 32% in 2018. Inevitably as AI takes on more work from humans in the workplace, the need for business owners and leaders to change the scope of job roles will develop further. 

The future of work is unfolding now and with research predictions indicating that more jobs will be created to accommodate and support the technological advances that develop as a result. Preparing for the evolution of HR is a worthwhile consideration right now. 

Sage HR supports organisation’s of all sizes, but with our specialist focus on small to medium sized businesses, preparing and responding to changes ahead in Human Resources is assured. Our effortless employee management software steps in to facilitate all aspects of HR, giving busy business owners time back to focus on the future looking strategy to prepare for the future of work.

We have completed the technical rollout of the development delivered with collaboration between Sage AI Labs and Sage HR – the tool that provides Absenteeism trend forecasting to the Leave Management customers. Find out more about Sage HR today with a free 30-day trial for new customers. 



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Written By

Jade Taryn Graham

Jade is the founder & CEO of Inspired a people & talent consultancy working with the most innovative early stage companies worldwide. Founder & CCO of Inspired Talent Media Ltd and contributing writer for Sage HR where Jade writes about people, leadership, work/life balance and change.