Research Insights

Acceleratingthe journey to HR 3.0

Ten ways to transform in a time of upheaval
IBM | Josh Bersin Academy
HR reinvention: The time has come

The Human Resources (HR) profession plays a heroic role in business. As companies deal with issues such as public health, resilience, social unrest, and rapid business transformation, the HR department has become more important than ever

Historically, HR departments have largely been administrative. They take responsibility for hiring, pay, compliance, and basic job design. Today, however, as we recover from the pandemic, companies need HR to focus on the employee experience and drive reskilling, cultural transformation, and an evolution to new models of work. As our research clearly shows, companies that make this evolution far outperform their peers-especially in this time of business reinvention.

Over the last two years we studied hundreds of global companies, and we found the HR departments fall into three categories. Traditional HR 1.0 departments focus on compliance, administration, and highly efficient service delivery. HR 2.0 teams move toward integrated centers of excellence, and focus on training and empowering business partners to deliver solutions at the point of need. HR 3.0, which only 10 percent of companies have achieved, turns HR into an agile consulting organization, one that not only delivers efficient services, but also practices design thinking to push innovative solutions, cognitive tools, and transparency into the organization.

The exciting thing about our findings is that HR 3.0 is not an idea: it's a reality you can achieve. As you will read in our report, the disciplines of design thinking, the use of highly intelligent cognitive tools, and a focus on transparency, inclusion, and change are all goals you can achieve. And supporting these new disciplines, we identified the need to continuously train and upskill HR itself.

As we recover from the global pandemic, every organization is rethinking work, the way we support our people, the role of technology, and the new role of leadership. HR 3.0 is a goal that every company can achieve, and we are excited to help you get there.

Key Takeaways

Humanity at the heart of the Cognitive Enterprise As exponential technologies, new business models and global disruptions converge to help transform the enterprise, it has become more important than ever to elevate the work and skills of employees and teams.

HR 3.0 is a business imperative Business executives overwhelmingly agree that HR must be radically redefined. Guiding principles of personalization, skills at the core, data-driven decision-making, transparency and agility are at the core of the journey to HR 3.0.

The best companies are already taking bold steps Ten action areas in HR emerge as priorities for transformation. Leading companies are outpacing their peers by innovating in all of these areas.

About the Publisher

Published by IBM Corporation

Research Insights are fact-based strategic insights for business executives on critical public and private sector issues. They are based on findings from analysis of our own primary research studies. For more information, contact the IBM Institute for Business Value at

Publish Date

October 2021