Introduction

Much has been written about the trends shaping the world of work today, from developments in AI and automation technologies in the workplace to the aging workforce and rampant pay inequality. Often the effects of these trends are presented as almost inevitable, and almost always they’re negative: jobs are destroyed, the labor market is to become overly competitive, and individual levels of stress are to skyrocket. What we forget is that these trends, and the predictions of the impact that come with them, assume organizations and the people who work for them, will behave in the future as they do today. What many predictions don’t reference is how with new evidence we can change our understanding of how organizations behave, and the practices which are most effective. With new evidence we can better understand how the leaders of organizations, and the HR functions they work with, might be more principled, focused, and deliver higher impact. If we can understand this new evidence, we can better enable more Strategic Human Resource Management practices.

These questions of strategic impact dominate research into Strategic Human Resource Management. Of particular interest are the outcomes and impact of SHRM. With improvements in data collection and data availability, refinements in methodology, and a greater appreciation of the high value of human resources management outcomes, we have come great strides in articulating how value is generated and captured by human capital. And with trends such as automation and AI now enabling more operational HR practices to be outsourced en-masse, there are predictions that the HR function may go through another rapid phase of evolution, moving even closer to more strategic activity. Not only might HR functions, supported by technology, be delivering excellent service to the business through improved operations; the leaders of the profession will be supported to spend more of their time focused on the big-picture issues facing their organizations and the world of work. Whilst the changes over the horizon are hard to predict and full of contradictory opinions, many do agree that HR will be reshaped in the years to come, possibly in radical ways.