Get Moving in the Right Direction to Find Your Way

In February, KPMG shared its Future of HR global study (What HR Needs to Do to Not Get Left Behind), which argued that forward-looking HR leaders were correctly focusing on analytics, digital labor and artificial intelligence. It argued that most HR practitioners were focusing on administrative and operational activities and were at risk of … “being left behind.”

While I agree with KPMG’s assessment that great and disruptive changes are underway, my opinion is that there is another trend that is equally important and that HR is uniquely positioned to explain, aid and abet. Burning Glass Technologies, a Boston analytics firm, analyzed millions of job postings and found that, while employers are indeed interested in the host of digital technologies (including AI), they increasingly want creative minds that can find ways to make use of the data. Dubbing these “hybrid jobs,” Burning Glass estimates that the demand for these jobs is rising much faster than non-hybrid jobs–21 percent annual growth versus 10 percent annual growth. In addition, pay for these jobs is significantly higher, and the chance of automating them is significantly lower … . Who gets to explain all this to the C-suite and make recommendations for how to hire, adapt career paths and provide extra training? HR, of course.

Ongoing training to allow employees to grow and to strengthen retention will be especially challenging. It could mean a photographer learning digital marketing, requiring technology training and then an immersion experience. Her pay will reflect the new skills, going from $30 an hour to $75 an hour. One hypothetical example drawn from the data was a software engineer who adds social and consulting skills and goes from a $180,000 salary to a $400,000 commission opportunity.

A Wall Street Journal article on the Burning Glass report ended with the incredibly broad conclusion that “workers, employers and educational institutions will have to figure out how to more systematically prepare individuals for these roles.”

It is very positive news to see the increased valuation of lifelong learning and adaptation, and of the ability to think, write and communicate. KPMG’s expert says, “Get moving or get out of the way.” Let’s tweak that to “Get moving in the right direction and with an open mind. Then you’ll find the right way.”

Merrie Spaeth
Founder and President
Spaeth Communications Inc.