June 7, 2017
June 8, 2017

Since the beginning of time evolution has always existed. The human species is a true reflection of evolution, adaption and survival. More so did the environment play its part in the “natural selection”[1], so too did the needs of the species itself. If we had to relate the Darwin’s theory of evolution to that to evolution of an employee, we find that the basic elements of change, environment and needs are very much existent.

“Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”

                                                                        ― Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species

In his article, “The Evolution of the Employee”[1], Jacob Morgan captures the importance of the employee in current times. “Employees which were once thought of expandable cogs are the most valuable asset that any organisation has.”[2]

If this is the scenario played out in front of us, then how does HR professionals respond? One way is by truly understanding your talent and role in innovatively driving your talent’s needs. HR professionals sit on the axis between employee needs and employer expectations, and therefore will have to deliver in the best interest of both stakeholders.


If there is agreement that evolution of the employee is taking place, then evolution of the HR function should be taking place as well. According to Morgan[1], the following evolution is comparatively expressed:

With the fast-evolving technology platforms, the influence of social media, the drive for agility, innovation and competition; we find the business environment in constant delivery mode. Time is of the outmost importance, and each second counts in financial terms. As the changes penetrates the business environment, we find organisations trying to keep up with the competition and satisfaction levels of customers. The one thing that hasn’t changed is the need for employees to be active and drive all this change. It is therefore HR’s role to ensure the employee is enabled and ready to do so.

Future HR Response
Work anytime Drive employee trust with contracts that focuses on outputs and timeous delivery. Performance should part of the culture of trust. Create policies that secure the trust environment, and have employees live the value of trust.
Work anywhere Understand technology advancements and create an environment that enables productivity of work activities from anywhere. Manage the expectation of delivery in outputs through performance.
Use any device Technology is not an enemy and can be used as a catalyst for delivery. It can even be used to innovate the ideas and presentation of work. Get to know technology and implement what works.
Focused outputs Quality, value, innovation and ethics should drive the outputs and delivery. In the past, the focused on inputs, but “begin with the end in mind”[1].
Create your own ladder and customised wok Create platforms for collaboration and skill identification. The focus is to create a workforce and not a hierarchical structure. By using skills and competencies in collaborative projects, you assist employees in building their own career path and a choice to work on projects they would enjoy.
Shares information HR should encourage collaborative platforms to share information. This allows for better team building relationships, innovation and creative thinking.
Can become a leader By using technologies and sharing ideas, the employee has the opportunity to become a leader at any level within the organisation. Recognising the leadership potential in an employee results in the gain for the organisation. Create the opportunities to display leadership skills and style.
Relies on collaborative technologies

Focused on adaptive learning

Technology enables access to information, opportunities and collaborations. Employees also use these platforms to continuous development and learning. HR needs to evolve their strategy of how the employee develops and learns.


Employees are now in the mode of adapting to change consistently. Projects and deliverables will require upskilling in knowledge and competencies.

Democratised learning and teaching “Connect employees to each other provides a way for democratized learning and teaching in ways that were never before possible.”[2] If HR can encourage learning and teaching of employees by employees. The mentoring and coaching model can evolve into something greater in creating a collaborative platform.

The evolving employee creates an opportunity for HR to lead the organisation into the future. By taking care of the workforce with understanding and innovative practices, organisations can depend on HR to input into the business’s success. Can this see the evolution of HR and its role? Will the future of HR change in its practice, impact and expectation? Will HR evolve into the leader that drive organisation credibility and sustainability. In my opinion…YES!


Lathasha Subban is Head of Knowledge & Innovation at SABPP.  You can contact her on   Follow SABPP on Twitter @SABPP1  or  Instagram @sabpp_1  or visit the website