As the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) blurs the lines between people and technology, an initial response, HR4.0, is being developed by companies to support employees through this rapid transformation of the workplace, according to a white paper recently released by the World Economic Forum.

Published in December 2019, “HR4.0: Shaping People Strategies in the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” was based on a series of consultations with chief human resources officers and other experts. The paper explored why the 4IR is creating the impetus for transformation in people strategies and HR practices, what businesses leaders can do to respond, and how organizsations are currently reacting to the pressure to change.

“HR leaders will increasingly need to develop skills related to data analytics, understanding and helping others understand technology, systems thinking, design thinking, story-telling, understanding the emerging field of mapping jobs, skills and tasks, and conducting strategic workforce planning,” researchers predicted.

The paper identified six key imperatives that business and HR leaders will need to implement to help their organization adapt to the 4IR. First, researchers said, as companies operate more distributed business models, leaders will have to develop new leadership capabilities. The second imperative for businesses is to manage the integration of technology in the workplace.

The third critical task is to enhance the employee experience. The authors pointed out that the increasing complexity of the workforce and the use of technology is changing the way work is experienced, and that HR has an important role to play in defining, measuring, and enabling the meaningful employee experience in the 4IR.

The fourth imperative is building an agile and personalized learning culture. According to researchers, HR can play a leading role in fostering a culture of lifelong learning as the demand for certain skills declines and the demand for new skills emerges.

The fifth critical task of HR leaders is to establish metrics for valuing human capital. The authors observed that the mutually beneficial relationship between the workforce, the organization, and society will make it essential for HR to build a compelling case for establishing viable and scalable measures of human capital as a key performance driver, and to continuously demonstrate that there is a clear business case for valuing human capital.

Finally, the authors said, the sixth imperative is for organizations to embed diversity and inclusion, while emphasizing that social, economic, and political changes represent an opportunity for organizations to advance inclusion and diversity goals. Researchers called upon HR to go beyond compliance requirements to create a culture of diversity and inclusion that focuses on changing behaviors, attitudes, and mindsets; and that is integrated into every aspect of the organization, including recruitment, rewards, and performance management.