One year on from the People Profession in 2030 Hackathon: reflecting on key trends

Mel Green reveals the latest findings on current trends and short-term challenges

In August 2020, we brought together hundreds of people professionals from around the world for our People Profession 2030 Hackathon. Our subsequent report identified the following five trends that will shape the future world of work: 

  • Internal change 
  • Digital and technological transformation 
  • Changing demographics and inclusion and diversity strategies 
  • Diversifying employment relationships 
  • Sustainability, purpose and responsible business 

The past 12 months have been full of uncertainty and change, and since the Hackathon and roundtables, we have continued to engage with the profession to test our findings. 

After conversations with in-house and independent people professionals through our branch networks it’s clear that these trends still resonate, although there are other shorter-term challenges that organisations are currently contending with.   

COVID-19 will continue to influence our workplaces 

Senior people professions told us that the pandemic has certainly dialled up the impact of some of these trends. For example, digital transformation vastly accelerated for many businesses, with changes that usually take years to implement taking just weeks or months. Technological and digital advances will undoubtedly continue in the coming years (read our digital transformation research and case studies). 

Internal change due to the pandemic has been a reality for all organisations. Some independent professionals are noticing an increase in longer-term change projects as businesses think about more permanent strategies going forward. 

Finally, while employment relationships haven’t changed for many contractually, it was clear from our discussions that employees' expectations are changing, especially around flexibility and working location. On the whole this was seen as positive, but it is likely to create new issues for organisations to manage.  

One part of this is the growing move towards hybrid working (where employees work some of the time from home and some time in a work location), which has impacted most, if not all, organisations in some way. This trend was at front of mind for many people professionals; from the equipment needed for long-term hybrid working, to maintaining a culture of collaboration with a more dispersed workforce and ensuring employee wellbeing. View our resources to explore the key issues that employers need to consider in managing remote and hybrid working

Implications for the people function 

The last 16 months have seen constant change and heavy workloads for many people teams – but there was a sense that, as we move slowly back towards ‘normality’, we shouldn’t return to outdated ways of working.  

For the people professionals we spoke to, there were some key themes around the impact of these wider changes on the people function:  

  • People professionals will need to upskill, as well as support development in the wider organisation. Digital transformation and change management were seen as key areas. 
  • Digital transformation and AI will impact both the people function and the wider business, affecting the skills needed and the type of work available, particularly when it comes to strategic versus operational work. 
  • The profession must keep looking ahead – beyond COVID-19 – to understand what will affect organisations in the years to come, in areas such as business change and climate change. 

Another clear continuation from the Hackathon was a confidence that the people profession is in a great position to lead positive change for the future world of work, keeping people issues at the heart of business strategy.  

Upcoming research 

Our People Profession: Now and for the future research is ongoing. Look out for our People Profession Survey 2021 in November. In the Autumn, we will also be sharing the outcomes of our research into cross-functional collaboration and future workplace trends, bringing together insights from people professionals and colleagues in other business functions. 

Sign up to get the latest updates on our research.