Why HR needs to look to the future

image of tangram puzzle blocks with people icons over wooden table ,human resources and management concept

Human beings, and as an extension the organisations they manage, are by nature short-termist.1 Even more so during the past few years; a rapid conveyor belt of disruption and change where reactivity has been essential and our capacity to look forward reduced by collective trauma.2 Yet as the rate of change continues to increase, so does the need to plan for a fast-approaching future.

We entered 2023 already in permacrisis, under the spectre of recession, in the midst of the Ukraine war. The stark events that have unfolded since – global shocks, economic turbulence, terrorist attacks and war in the Middle East – have only further exacerbated employee burnout and mental health decline.

CEOs increasingly looking towards CHROs for solutions

It is a critical time for the HR function to play a central and strategic role in organisations by focusing on employee wellbeing; as both a moral imperative and in order to reap the productivity, efficiency and innovation benefits that will follow. As CEOs increasingly look towards CHROs for solutions, forward-thinking responses can strengthen HR’s visibility and viability.3 Some have predicted the CHRO will take on the role of ‘futurist’; looking to tomorrow and confronting change and disruption with innovation and insight.4

From AI transforming mental health tech to the digitally-native Gen Alpha entering the workforce, the changes we will see over the next six years will not only bring about a brave new world of workplace wellbeing but will also redefine success for HR professionals and catalyse a seismic shift in the role of the CHRO. Through this, employees globally will benefit in a multitude of ways.

The time to act is now. Those who get ahead of the coming wave of change and make tangible, science-backed plans starting in 2024 are the ones who will advance in the years to come.

One-, three- and six-year HR transformation plans

That’s why, this year, rather than forecasting trends for the upcoming 12 months, we’ve looked ahead to the next decade as we ask: What will define workplace wellbeing in 2030? And, consequently, how will the function of HR evolve?

Unmind’s new report, HR 2030, outlines the workplace wellbeing trends illuminated by our latest investigation, including HR’s role in shaping the future of enterprises through emerging technologies, the needs of new talent and changing business models. Our experts have also provided high-level recommendations to drive the impact of HR and its role in organisational success.

To create the report, we conducted a quantitative online survey of 3,625 HR leaders in large organisations across the US, UK and AU about the future of workplace mental health. We also spoke with academics, practitioners and industry experts to gain tangible steps you can take to get ahead from now to 2030.

Download the report to gain a unique insight into:

  • The three trends that will define HR’s success or failure.
  • How to become a strategic business partner to the C-suite.
  • One-, three- and six-year HR transformation plans to apply in your organisation.

About the author

Dr Nick Taylor is the CEO and Co-founder of Unmind, the workplace mental health platform that partners with some of the world’s greatest organisations including Uber, Major League Baseball, Standard Chartered Bank and British Airways. When Nick isn’t working closely with CHROs on their wellbeing strategies, he’s chatting to media about mental health, organizational culture and performance. Before founding Unmind, Nick was a practicing clinical psychologist and a visiting university lecturer.


1. MIT Technology Review. Humanity is stuck in short-term thinking. Here’s how we escape. https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/10/21/1009443/short-term-vs-long-term-thinking/. Published 2020.

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2. Ratcliffe M, Ruddell M, Smith B. What is a “sense of foreshortened future?” A phenomenological study of trauma, trust, and time. Frontiers in Psychology. 2014;17(5):1026. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01026 

3. Spencer Stuart. CHRO 25: How leaders are preparing for change. https://www.spencerstuart.com/research-and-insight/chro-2025. Updated 2020.

4. Mercer. Voice of the CHRO: Evolving the CHRO role in a rapidly changing world of work. https://www.mercer.com/en-us/insights/people-strategy/future-of-work/evolving-the-chro-role-in-a-rapidly-changing-world-of-work/. Published 2023.


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