Evolve or risk irrelevance — HR is changing to meet 21st Century demands


HR has performed important corporate functions in organisations for years.

And tasks like coordinating employee salaries and benefits and mediating between management and teams still remain relevant.

But the digital age has introduced companies that are radically different in terms of their offerings, operational practices and culture — so a modern HR professional has to have several strings to their bow.

With outsourced payroll services completing core duties like wage payments and tax provisions accurately and automatically, HR staff are focusing their efforts on different aspects of staff relations.

With that in mind, here’s how HR is changing to meet 21st Century demands.


Most startup companies can’t afford to hire a large HR department — a solo player sometimes has to adapt their approach to be effective in an environment where margins are tight and demands are high.

So startup HR pros might encourage management to make more use of technology to improve employee performance, productivity and wellbeing.

And because they’ll likely have responsibility for recruitment and retention, they can help to ensure a positive company culture is embedded from the very start.

This is achieved through attracting new hires aligned with the mission statement and encouraging existing staff to behave in ways that support declared values.


Capturing employee data and analysing it to gain valuable insights will soon be one of the main tasks of a modern HR department.

And HR analytics technology is being used by progressive organisations to monitor staff health and morale, improve motivation and performance and enhance development and decision-making.

As a company scales up, it can be difficult to maintain the same culture and promote positive beliefs and behaviour — but keeping these factors consistent is a major key to success.

This type of tech can make it easier for HR to keep a close eye on conditions and perform regular temperature checks on staff satisfaction.

So rather than threatening jobs, technology might actually empower HR to make work much more pleasant and fulfilling for staff members.


If an HR department has been in place long-term, it might not have adapted its practices to deal effectively with millennials.

Contrary to some popular thought leadership articles, younger workers don’t insist on sitting on beanbags or being treated with kid gloves.

But they might appreciate flexible physical workspaces that include areas for collaborative work and quiet areas for close concentration.

Gimmicks like go-carts and hover boards are probably unnecessary too — but a well-designed interior that’s functional and creative might make them feel at home and foster a sense of loyalty.

And they might also feel more engaged in a culture that’s more transparent and offers genuine development opportunities.

So an ambient physical environment and open communication might be the best ways to futureproof your business

Although technology is extending its reach into HR recruitment and admin duties, it’ll still be some time before machines take over completely.

But provided HR departments evolve in the ways described, they’ll extend their lifespans instead of consigning themselves to history.

Does your HR department embrace technology? Share your thought sin the comments section.