Managing human resources in the future

2 december 2015

In an interactive guest lecture by STT-project manager Ellen Willemse, students from the School for International Business Management (The Hague University of Applied Sciences) were challenged to think about the future of human resource management (HRM). In the lecture, the students were introduced to some technological developments that may change HRM significantly, possibly already before these technologies have been fully adopted.

Short term consequence of long term technological developments

As it turned out, the students have recently been confronted with a short term consequence of long term technological developments. In a previous assignment, they made an investment plan for a real life company. In the plan, they suggested to invest in attracting young people. However, the CEO of the company rejected their advice, as he was only interested in investing in his current workforce (aged 30 and over) as he expects robots to take over most of the work in the next decades.

Robots and other technological applications

All the more reason to start thinking about threats and opportunities of robots and other technological applications, including exoskeletons, self-learning computers and virtual reality. A range of exciting new technologies were introduced and discussed: what could be the consequences of these new technologies for job requirements? For training methods? Management structures?

Major role in future management for smart systems

Expectations as well as preferences with regard to future applications varied. Some were thrilled about the idea to practise feedback skills on a self-learning system, some were very much opposed. Human interaction, was their argument, is something for humans, not for machines. They don’t believe self-learning will play a role there. Smart systems that provide analytical support however, were regarded as very helpful and are expected to play a major role in future management.


The guest lecture was concluded with a brainstorm to collect the headlines of a day in 2050. Interestingly enough, the first round of the exercise rendered mostly positive headlines, from Unemployment amongst disabled reduced dramatically (thanks to exoskeletons and biomimetic aids) to Workstress levels no longer major cause of absence (due to smart systems that take over tedious administrative tasks) and Cheap robot babysitter makes life easier for working parents. But when specifically requested to come up with negative headlines, this turned out to render plenty ideas too, ranging from job losses, to deadly accidents and lucrative criminal offences. All the more reason to be future ready!