The New Faces in HR

The New Faces in HR

An industry study comes up with 21 futuristic HR roles that were unthinkable, but would soon become reality

The pandemic has changed a lot of things in the corporate world. This includes business models, execution strategies, infrastructure and resourcing. As both managers and workers struggle to get a grip on the “new normal”, Human Resources – being the core component in talent management – comes under focus. Industry leaders now expect HR professionals to engage and nurture employees in the context of the changed workplace.

Faced with all round uncertainties, people worldwide are increasingly turning to their employees for support and reassurance. It is a delicate situation for organisations and the problem is: this change is unprecedented, and no one has a prior model to fall back on. We are all learning along the way, innovating and improvising as the situation demands – negotiating each turn as it approaches. HR itself is standing on the cusp of a paradigm shift, assuming new responsibilities, learning and relearning.

Against this backdrop, the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, in collaboration with Future Workplace and its participating network of leading chief human resources officers from across a spectrum of leading American businesses completed a 9-month study to understand how HR functions may evolve over the next 10 years.Taking into account several trend areas – covering economic, political, social, cultural, demographic, business and technology – the study came up with more than 60 HR roles that could emerge over the next decade. Another round of shortlisting based on job ranking pruned this down to a final list of 21.

These 21 futuristic roles have been broadly divided into two categories: one that requires medium-to-high technological proficiency and the other that requires low-to-medium technological proficiency. The following table presents a bird’s eye view:

Category 2020-2025 2025-2030
Medium-to-high tech ·     HR Data Detective

·     WFH Facilitator

·     Strategic HR Business-Continuity Director

·     Algorithm Bias Auditor

·     Chatbot and Human Facilitator

·     Human Bias Officer

·     Future-of-Work Leader

·     Workplace Environment Architect

·     Climate Change Response Leader

·     Human-Network Analyst

·     VR Immersion Counsellor

·     Genetic-Diversity Officer


Low-to-medium tech ·     Head of Business Behaviour

·     Second-Act Coach

·     University4Life Coordinator

·     Gig Economy Manager

·     Human-Machine Teaming Manager

·     Director of Well-Being

·     Chief Purpose Planner

·     Employee Enablement Coach

·     Distraction Prevention Coach

Each of these roles are product of thorough research and deliberation. Five core themes emerged during the research, based on which the roles were identified. These are as follows:

  1. Individual and organisational resilience – An area that concerns the capabilities of both the employee and the organisation to withstand stress created by the changed situation. In this respect, HR would have to reassure people and provide ample support for emotional, mental and physical well being. Roles like the Director of Well-Being and WFH Facilitator would be crucial here.
  2. Organisational trust and safety– Changes like remote working, automation and AI-based transformation are bound to create uncertainties and spark doubts among the employees. As data collection becomes paramount to build any algorithm-based system, concerns regarding privacy, surveillance and data security are sure to occur. This could lead to an environment of mistrust between the individual and the organisation. Dedicated HR professionals would be required to prevent and/or resolve any such consequences. This is where roles like Human Bias Officer, Strategic HR Business-Continuity Director, or Genetic-Diversity Officer comes into play.
  3. Creativity and innovation – The market will definitely require new solutions to deal with the new situation. As a result, enterprises would be looking at creative and innovative solutions and break away from legacy mindsets. New skills and talent would therefore be much in demand. For this, organisations would be collaborating more with the academia. HR needs to be prepared to handle this changed scenario through roles like Future-of-Work Leader, VR Immersion Counsellor, University4Life Coordinator, and Climate Change Response Leader, among others.
  4. Data literacy – Data crunching was so long not a key HR requirement, but that is going to change soon. HR functions will be increasingly dependent on data-driven decision-making. Hence, gaining insights or analysing the big picture from the HR perspective will call for their own data specialists. HR Data Detective, VR Immersion Counsellor, Algorithm Bias Auditor would be some of the relevant roles in this respect.
  5. Human-machine partnership– Everyone agrees that automation is going to take over a wide range of activities in every sector. However, the realisation has also dawned that robots cannot be utilised with maximum efficiency without human intervention. They can be harnessed for computational, analytical, and pattern recognition functions – but each of these can be fine tuned only through human inputs. And beyond these functions, there are tasks that calls for judgement, assessment, and variable decision-making based on specific situations.That is possible only by humans till now. Advanced algorithm developers are, therefore, looking at collaborative systems based on human-machine partnership for best results. A fine balancing act is required and, hence, specialised HR involvement becomes necessary. For this, the HR department would be looking at roles like Human-Network Analyst, Chatbot and Human Facilitator, orHuman-Machine Teaming Manager.

The HR roles mentioned in the Cognizant study would have been unthinkable even a year ago, but now anything seems possible in the light of the “new normal”. Most of these roles are yet to emerge, and some names sound downright fancy– but trends suggest that all of them are going to happen sooner or later.

Acknowledgement:21 HR Jobs of the Future – a study by Cognizant Center for the Future of Work and Future Workplace, 2020.

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