Top 6 HR Predictions for 2020- Dave Ulrich


I like to glance around the corner to see what might be ahead, below are the trends I foresee for HR in 2020.

Context is changing

Someone said, “Content is king, but context is the kingdom.”The HR profession must appreciate, anticipate, and adapt to changing economic, political, social, and technological contexts. In particular, HR helps deliver the digital business agenda and how HR enacts the digital HR agenda.

HR is not about HR but about creating value for others

Value is not defined by what HR does but by how it impacts others. I like to ask, “What is the best thing HR gives an employee?”Answers generally include a meaningful job, purpose, colleagueship, fair pay, opportunities to learn and grow, and a good work setting. While I agree, I think the best value HR gives an employee is a company that wins in the marketplace. Without winning, there is no job.

HR stakeholders are broadening

Traditionally the HR customers were within the organization: employees who are more productive and line managers who design and deliver the right strategy. Increasingly, HR stakeholders are outside the company, including customers who buy products, investors who finance the business, and communities who validate the reputation

HR has unique contributions

To serve internal and external stakeholders, HR traditionally contributed talent: right people, right place, right time, right experience (today’s shiny object). However, in our research, we found that “organization” (culture, capability, workplace) has four times more impact on business results than “individual” (talent, competence, workforce). Leadership bridges individual talent and organization capability. Thus, HR uniquely contributes talent, organization, and leadership to all stakeholders. In any business dialogue, HR partners could continually ask, “Do we have the right talent, organization, and leadership to add value, deliver strategy, serve customers, gain confidence from investors, and build a reputation with communities?”Talent, organization, and leadership are the primary deliverables from HR work and HR could provide unique insight about talent, organization, and leadership to make this happen.HR needs a guidance system to determine how to make progress along each of these three paths.

The HR department should reflect the logic and governance of the business

The structure of an HR department varies by the structure of the business: more centralized businesses have more centralized HR departments; more decentralized businesses have more decentralized HR departments; more matrix-like businesses have more shared services / center of expertise HR departments. With ever more digital HR, what was outsourced becomes insourced.

HR professionals need to reinvent themselves (20 to 30 percent every four to five years) to deliver value.

The skills for personal credibility, serving stakeholders and delivering business results vary and evolve over time.  HR professionals need to continually reinvent themselves, with an emerging focus on creating capabilities at all organization levels.

Sor for 2020, these are my 6 views of what’s next for HR and how HR continues to deliver value.

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Dave Ulrich, Rensis Likert Professor at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan and a partner at The RBL Group. He has published over 30 books and 200 articles/chapters that have shaped the fields of leadership to deliver results, of organizations to build capabilities, and of human resources to create value where he is the known as the “father of modern HR.” He has been named a top management thought leader in Business Week, Fortune, Financial Times, The Economist, and People Management, and is the recipient of many awards, including a Lifetime Achievement award from ASTD (now ATD).


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