The future of HR: What you need to know

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Everyone knows that there are some key capabilities that HR professionals need to be across to be effective and successful. These capabilities include the ability to  influence, manage relationships, think critically and commercially, and demonstrate resilience.

David Ulrich (probably the most quoted person in HR… and now the richest) has also developed a range of additional capabilities. These marry with his HR model, which is now the HR structure used in the vast majority of large companies. 

But will these existing capabilities be enough to equip HR professionals for the challenges they will face in a radically changing environment? This month, we ponder some of the future capabilities that might be required for HR career success in years to come.


As reported in the February edition of Boss Magazine, two researchers from the Institute of the Future in the US, Dean Findler and Marina Gorbis, identified capabilities that will apply to the future. Many of these apply directly to the HR market. So what are these future capabilities?


All disciplines deal with an abundance of information. With shrinking teams, increased complexity and higher expectations of performance, HR professionals are often in ‘information overload’. The first capability identified by Findler and Gorbis is Cognitive Load Management, which is all about the capability to filter information  and focus on what’s important. It’s all about absorbing the ‘white noise’ and prioritizing the big ticket items. 

Some may say that there is nothing new about the challenge of prioritizing in HR, but that would massively underestimate the challenges of the future HR Business Partner role. As the key single points of contact acting as business consultants to business groups, the HR Business Partners of the future will be buried unless they can deal with a massive amount of data and information. 


As HR teams are being more geographically spread, technology improvements are enabling communications to continue, ideas to be shared and productivity to be evaluated. However, leading and harnessing a distributed HR team’s efforts is a challenge. 

The ability to motivate, develop and lead HR communities with a range of local geographic challenges will become a more commonly sought-after capability.


Creating, presenting and manipulating information visually with credibility for organizations in the forms of video, blogs and podcasts will be a key HR communication strategy in the future. At this point, most HR professionals aren’t thinking beyond LinkedIn in terms of social media.

What cultural, analytical and cross-disciplinary skills will you need? Find out on page 2

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