Over the past three years, we’ve proposed dozens of jobs that will emerge over the next decade in response to the era of artificial intelligence (AI), algorithms and automation.
Now it’s time to address human resources, a field that will evolve in surprising ways. Here we present 21 HR jobs of the future that will meet the needs of a new workforce shaped by advanced technology and the COVID-19 pandemic. We believe that some of these jobs are ready for prime time now, while others lie in the future — but all will be reasonably commonplace within 10 years.
This role will source, sift and investigate people data from multiple sources, including human capital management and HR information system data; employee surveys; time-tracking and learning management systems; benefits portals; compensation; and succession planning. The data detective will also transform unstructured information — such as employee sentiment, text, video or voice inputs — into usable data sources. The ideal candidate will relentlessly pursue whatever the data is saying. Candidates for this role should be curious, relentless, resilient and diplomatic while never taking no for an answer.
This person will ensure that all remote employees have the technology they need to do their best work. Evaluating, budgeting for and integrating new digital collaboration tools are key responsibilities. Applicants should have a natural fascination with the application of virtual reality (VR) for interaction and collaboration, as we believe VR will be critical to effectively enable remote work.
Understanding employee behavior is a challenging landscape, but it can be made easier by the widespread adoption of sensors and biometric technology in the workplace. Heads of business behavior will be leaders in workforce intelligence teams, responsible for developing data-driven strategies in areas such as employee experience; cross-company collaboration; and smart workplace success (which will tackle such issues as how office space impacts the way people work).
This role will protect the workforce and ensure its continued productivity and resilience. This director will also be a leader in the development, implementation and maintenance of an HR-specific business continuity program and, in tandem with business continuity planning leads, establish a strategy that enables employees to continue to function without the risk of endangerment. Cross-functional partnership in this role is critical.
The head of ABA will lead a team that conducts a methodical and rigorous investigation into every algorithm across every business unit within the organization. The team will work with development teams from tech and business functions for new AI-based applications and will review existing systems. The head of ABA will establish an inventory system that logs and tracks each significant algorithm; its objectives; its input and output; and related human value judgments and consequences.
We believe that the workforce will look very different in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis. Despite the need for furloughs and other reshuffling, businesses want to lose as few good employees as possible. The second-act coach will help employees through a four-stage journey: awaken, define, match and prepare. Because many second-acters have just finished up many years of repetitive work, working with them is challenging and rewarding. Defining values and motivators is key to finding the most fitting second act.
The idea here is that more and more employers offer in-house “universities.” In a Uni4Life program, alumni become lifelong learners who enjoy access to specially curated learning opportunities after they graduate. As we envision it, Uni4Life AI technology will collect data on lifelong learners to build an up-to-date learning profile. The tool then uses predictive algorithms to make recommendations tied to individual learner profiles and wider labor market data.
Voice is the new frontier for computing, we believe. Ideal candidates for this role will be passionate about conversational interfaces in the context of HR. Accents, inflections, turns of phrase, jargon, and lingo of current voice-as-a-platform systems should also be optimized by working in concert with voice UX designers to heighten empathetic inputs and create a better work atmosphere for the workforce.
More and more companies are using a talent marketplace model to ensure that they’re developing the skills they need to compete. With such a model (which operates like an internal gig economy), an increasing number of employees will frequently shift their roles, projects or teams, following the example of organizations like Google. GEMs will manage day-to-day queries from associates and managers. They’ll also collaborate with myriad teams to make recommendations for platform improvements and new feature creation.
Most businesses today realize that it’s vital to augment diversity and inclusion throughout the organization. While efforts like unconscious bias training have been used for decades to meet corporate diversity goals, the increased use of algorithms, automation and AI has put a new spin on how bias can seep into decision-making and everyday actions. The human bias officer will work closely with and be supported by algorithm bias auditors (Number 5 on our list) and will work alongside senior decision makers, comparing results and ensuring that recommendations are explainable, transparent and bias-free.
Businesses need a senior strategist within HR who can envision new roles that the organization will need in the next decade as huge shifts — whether technological, geopolitical, demographic, environmental, legislative or competitive — impact the business and indeed the industry. The future of work leader will drive future-of-work analysis, resourcing and thinking to enable next-generation skills to fuel the business. This individual will need to synthesize many big-picture inputs from academia, leading think tanks, industry umbrella organizations and regional, national and supra-national organizations to anticipate new roles.
The future of work will be based on how well companies blend and extend the abilities of humans and machines by making them collaborative. The human-machine teaming manager will identify tasks, processes, systems and experiences that can be upgraded through newly available technologies and will imagine new approaches, skills, interactions and constructs. This professional will define roles and responsibilities and set the rules for how machines and workers should coordinate to accomplish a task.
This role will foster a company-wide understanding of the importance of worker well-being, both the benefits it can offer and how the company’s real estate holdings can impact it. The workplace environmental architect will also design strategies for improving the wellness of all workers, and will promote company investments in human-centered design. The ideal candidate will use expertise in architecture, human-centered design, wellness and public health to carry out a mandate to create a healthy, nurturing workplace.
The person in this leadership role will serve as a conduit for candidate, employee and customer feedback on actions that the company is taking with respect to human capital and climate change. They will use the latest technologies to monitor candidate and employee questions and suggest actions that they can take, while also spearheading dissemination of relevant research and actionable news, and conducting surveys for employees and for the general public.
The COVID-19 outbreak significantly and immediately increased the requirement that organizations have a well-being strategy in place. Even before the virus, two-thirds of full-time workers experienced burnout on the job. The director of well-being’s primary focus is to design, develop and implement well-being programs aligned with the organization’s culture, mission and values. The vision of the role is a holistic one, with emphasis on weaving mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being into the fabric of the organization.
This professional will help shape and promote a defined corporate purpose that aligns with clients, customers and employees. With companies increasingly recognizing that corporate purpose attracts customers while also engaging employees, these projects will take place between the marketing and HR functions. The idea here will be to develop a corporate purpose strategy and narrative while also (depending on industry) working as a communication catalyst across client companies.
The human network analyst uses AI and data analytics to visualize and analyze human working relationships. We believe that one of the key tools will be organizational network analysis (ONA). We have invested in both virtual ONA (e.g., email, IM and intranet analysis) and physical ONA (GPS, infrared and voice sensors embedded in ID badges). The human network analyst will use data from these sources to answer queries, present solutions and even provide answers to questions that nobody has yet thought to ask.
Retaining skilled talent is a major concern for all companies, and this need will grow even more acute. The employee enablement coach will work with several others on our list (data detectives, Uni4Life coordinators, heads of business behavior, chief purpose planners and managers) to create individual enablement strategies and plans for each employee. These coaches will establish a direct relationship with employees “from hire to retire,” serving as an advocate and advisor. Crucially, this role will be an early warning system to head off unnecessary resignations due to eminently fixable situations.
Talented VR immersion counselors will help HR departments design, facilitate, personalize and massively scale workforce training and collaboration in virtual reality. They will use this powerful tech to supercharge collaboration and training. These counselors will collaborate with engineering leads, training and workforce collaboration leads, and technical artists to bring together the necessary elements.
The distraction prevention coach will help associates at all levels hone their attention both inward (to align their values and intuitions) and outward (to navigate the world around them). This will help employees manage stress and increase their focus, productivity and effectiveness. The person in this role will also educate workers on the nature of stress.
These individuals will work closely with country and business unit heads, as well as in-house and third-party genetic pathologists, to ensure genetic inclusion within the organization. Beyond ethnic, sexual orientation and gender equality, we believe organizations will face genetic equality and the need to integrate a workforce that includes workers who have been genetically enhanced (whether during gestation or later in life) with those who have not. The genetic diversity officer’s primary role will be to facilitate the profitability and productivity of the organization while fostering an environment of genetic inclusion.
To learn more, see our white paper, “21 HR Jobs of the Future: Getting – and Staying – Employed in HR by Helping Employees Find the Future of Work,” visit our Center for the Future of Work for additional information, or contact us.