Three Key Trends Shaping the Future of HR

For long, Human Resources (HR) has been viewed as this administrative function that ensures payrolls are processed on time or a business partner. It is now time that the HR transitions itself into a powerful People Platform and enables the business. The following three trends will eventually push HR to dig-deep into the power of its assets – People and connect them to business outcomes there by becoming a business enablement platform.

Trend 1: GigEconomics

Gig Economy or Gigonomy refers to the trend where individuals can make themselves available for a small gig in return for money (or) organizations/individuals can seek to hire someone for a gig.  This form of work has always existed but it is now going mainstream.

Approximately 53 million Americans are engaged in some manner of freelancing, which is adding around $715 billion to the economy (Edelman Berland, 2014) – (source

In many ways, the emergence of platforms like elance, oDesk (or more specifically elance-oDesk = UpWork), Freelancer, Fiverr just when depression economy was on recovery brought to light a whole new entrepreneurial talent force many of whom have started using these avenues as primary source of revenue (or) augment it a second job, and even make money from hobby/passion. Apps like TaskRabbit, Minyawns, and a slew of other apps have all brought this talent force a much needed attention. Now, the jury is still out on how many companies use these services either in lieu or to augment non-core skills/workforce.

We might debate if I am combining Gig Economy incorrectly but there is a new phenomenon powered by platforms like Kaggle that allow organizations to foster innovation using the principles of Gigonomy. AllState as an insurance company is full of smart actuaries and it launched a competition to help calculate the probability of “can someone get into an accident” for a 10K USD to a great success encouraging companies such as MasterCard, Pfizer, Facebook, NASA, and many others have joined the bandwagon to crowdsource innovation.

We are just getting started.

Trend 2: Marketplace Networks

It is not about Facebook or Twitter but may be a little bit of LinkedIn but more importantly the likes of Zillow, Houzz, Uber, LendingClub, Etsy, HoneyBook, and a lot more. A very profound article about  Marketplace networks and some shining examples are listed here. This growing phenomenon is yet to converge with the gigeconomics but when it does it will simply disrupt the way we view talent. HR can both learn and adopt these principles.

Leveraging MarketPlace Networks is a simplest thing to do. While there is not an already existing “platform” for HR, it is as simple as connecting a learning provider, faculty member, transaction processor, coach, mentor, content, recruiter, etc. within the context of a HR to its employees. This is a way HR can be exponential while maximizing opportunities for the employees, let the best thing/person thrive, and not drive up the cost. It is still nascent and under-leveraged.

Building your own MarketPlace Networks is the actual power and future of HR. Imagine HR partnering with sales/marketing (or) with the products department (or) the innovation/research department to make available the deals, challenges, and such and then let “employees” join the solution movement  – it will breakdown the organizational silos and bring the power of people to problems. The “employees” here can refer to the internal workforce (or) to those belong to the GigEconomics. It simply is an astounding proposition. Elon Musk is already paving the way with his Hyperloop staffing and innovation mechanism. It is time to wait and watch how that pans out.

Trend 3: Info Economics

A lot has been said about Big Data and how it can be used for betterment of just about everything. There are many shining examples of Big Data and the Corporate HR is just beginning to have some success stories. HR needs to get better with tying data to purpose.

HR needs to make focused efforts to get to know the insights, intent, and interests of employees and start making those deep personal connections. A case-in-point: HR knows that its employee is married is when they login to switch the insurance “did you have a life event” – a great lost opportunity to establish a personal connection with the employee. Insights refer to knowing as much about the employee – strengths, skills, geo demographics, past, present etc. Intent refers to what an employee is trying to do at any point in time and tying those to form a behavior pattern, and Interests are what the employee does in and outside a company. Now imagine leading into a marketplace network and a gigeconomy with this kind of power is simply priceless.

As the above three trends begin to evolve, the recruitment, rewards, performance, learning/certification platforms morph. They now become a brand and reputation platform that basically positions an individual in the gigeconomy, traditional employee economy with achievements, opportunities, and reputation that then lets the best emerge to the top. The organizational brand, reputation, the brand of any particular challenge will all count into letting people, organizations, and challenges converge around a purpose. The world will simply become a competitive place for all.


It is the perfect confluence waiting to disrupt people operations at any given company.

  • HR has to get better with knowing its people better & connecting them to purpose
  • HR will have to expand the definition of people beyond the traditional metrics.
  • Individuals would all have to become entrepreneurial taking more accountability to learn, engage, grow (build the LEG for the future)
  • Organizations would have to pivot the way they think by fostering those marketplace networks while leveraging data & talent force
  • Oh lastly – the debate about W2 vs. 1099 that has started with Uber is just the beginning of a long-lasting evolution of these phenomenons.

What do you think about it? Is your company looking into the above trends (or) are there other trends not captured here?

Credits: Cover Image sourced under creative commons. Click here for the actual source.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog is a personal reflection of various key trends.

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