Digital disruption and design thinking top the poll on long term HR trends

Earlier this year, HRD Connect (in partnership with HRD Summit/Europe) conducted the Annual HR Industry Survey. 165 HR Leaders provided a review of the long term trends impacting their business and role therein.

We asked survey participants: “What long term trends (3 – 5 years) do you see impacting your organisation or the profession over the coming years?”

To discuss the results we were joined by Perry Timms, Social Learning Strategist, HR Blogger and Founder and Chief Energy Officer, PTHR (People and Transformational HR Ltd), and Tom Haak, Director of the HR Trend Institute.

Digital disruption and emerging technologies topped the poll with design thinking, and HR transformation following second and third, respectively.

Figure 1. Long term trends impacting HR


Perry Timms:

“That digital disruption, HR transformation and design thinking/innovation come out tops in a survey of HR professionals doesn’t surprise me.  We KNOW that we’re entering a machine age.  Artificial intelligence, deep learning and robotics are much hyped and speculated upon, but they ARE looming as replacements for human labour and endeavour more than anything we saw in earlier revolutions.  As this really hits us, HR’s role needs to be transformative – we’re not talking about tinkering with employment terms, we’re talking about redefining what we even mean by the terms “jobs” and “work”.  Voltaire said that work keeps at bay 3 evils: boredom, vice and need.  Design thinking and innovation will therefore need to address what digital disruption does to our orthodoxies on work and jobs; what HR’s transformative mindset needs to be and design purposeful, powerful and sustainable ways that people can make a difference and help their fellow humans.”

Tom Haak:

“It is promising that “Digital disruption and emerging technologies” are put on the list of important long-term trends by 52,8% of the respondents. “Design thinking and innovation” and “HR transformation” are also considered very important. I have a lot of contact with entrepreneurs in the HR Tech area. They would probably not recognise that HR is already acting on these priorities. The feeling is that HR is very slow in adapting innovations and new technologies, especially in comparison with other disciplines (as marketing). Introducing new tools and processes in the HR domain takes a long time, and slowness is seen as a characteristic of the HR profession. They like to talk and study, they have less appetite to act. Maybe this can partly be explained by the outcome of the survey. ‘Digital disruption and emerging technologies’ are seen as long term trends, while in fact they should be seen as current trends, that create opportunities to increase the impact of HR today, not in the future.”


Perry Timms, Social Learning Strategist, HR Blogger and Founder and Chief Energy Officer, PTHR (People and Transformational HR Ltd)

Perry Timms is a self-confessed obsessive about a better future for people at work.  He is Chief Energy Officer of his own enterprise – PTHR – and a range of networked partnerships.  A global & TEDx speaker on the Future of Work, Perry is also a WorldBlu® certified Freedom at Work Consultant + Coach helping organisations work in more liberated, democratic ways. With over 20 years’ experience in technology driven change, organisation development & learning, Perry is a Chartered Member of CIPD, advises them on Social Media and is a fellow at Sheffield Hallam University and the RSA.  In October 2017, Kogan Page will publish Perry via the book “Transformational HR”.

Tom Haak, Director, HR Trend Institute

Tom Haak is the director of the HR Trend Institute, which follows, detects and encourages trends in the people and organization domain and in related areas. Where possible, the institute is also a trend setter. Tom has an extensive experience in HR Management in multinational companies. He worked in senior HR positions at Fugro, Arcadis, Aon, KPMG and Philips Electronics. Tom has a keen interest in innovative HR, HR tech and how organizations can benefit from trend shifts.

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