INSIGHT - Why HR Departments Will Fail in the 2020s, and How Mentoring Can Save the Day!

insights Jul 18, 2019


As we head into the 2020s we are going to see unprecedented changes like not other time in history. Technology is driving change at such a pace that it is becoming hard for our traditional systems and processes to keep up.

With all this fast change there is only one sure fire strategy to keep a company ahead of the game, or in fact even still in the game; and that is having the ability to attract, engage and retain the best talent.



As we move into the next decade, we are going to see millions of baby boomers retiring, taking their lifetime of working knowledge and experience with them. The market is being flooded by Generations X and Y - the most transient work force. Long gone will be the boomer’s average of 8 years loyalty to a company. This will be replaced by the job-hopping commitment of just 1.2 years of the Gen Ys. (1)

To make it worse, it is also getting more complex to replace this lost labour. The UK skills gap currently sees over 870,000 unfiled jobs. (2)



All this movement is making the role of HR Departments increasingly difficult. Couple that with the fact that the people who are fulfilling jobs have increasingly complex challenges. There is constant need to adapt and change to fast moving and often disrupted industries requiring frequent re training and skills development, working times and patterns are adapting to global economies, and frequent leadership changes create regular disruptions. No wonder mental health issues in the workplace are at all time high!



How does an HR department survive in this volatile environment? How will HR strategies need to adapt to ensure companies successfully navigate this changing world?  

For this we need a whole new paradigm and we need to take inspiration from other sectors who have already proven new operating systems. Surprising, the solution lies in a more hands-off approach.



Customer Service Departments were one of the first sectors to be battered by this new complex world. As companies produced consumer technology products the need for support increased. The old factory that printed address books got very few customer queries, compared to those that stuck the address book on a devise and thrust it into the hands of an unqualified user!

Inundates they needed to find new ways to manage the ever-increasing workload. Those that used tech and just stuck a load of FAQs on a website infuriated their customers – people still wanted the human touch. However, recruiting, or even outsourcing, desk after desk of tech support adviser would drive up costs and become hard to manage through the ebbs and flows of customer needs.

What the smart companies have realised is that they don’t need their own staff to fulfill all of this function – their customers will do a lot of the work for them through Customer Service Communities.

A customer service community is usually an online portal where peers help resolve each other’s faults. A question is posted and before a company representative even has a chance to respond another enthusiastic customer has jumped in with the answer or shared a previous insight from the growing knowledge base.

One of the earlier adopters of this sort of Customer Service models, Jama Software, reported that 73% of their customer enquiries can and were being solved by the community they had built. (3)

Not only is this hugely resource effective for the company it also empowers the customers to gain a sense of belonging and loyalty to their favourite brands. It is a hands-off approach, but it is also still human!



It is this kind of thinking and strategising that HR departments need to engage. But rather than empowering customers to look after each other, they need to empower their staff to take up the inevitable slack and begin to support one another.

As we step into the 2020’s those companies with effective and meaningful mentoring cultures are going to be the ones who rise above the rest. They will be able to develop and nurture the best talent but also hold onto that talent as their staff feel empowered and part of a community and something greater than themselves.

A mentoring culture where everyone is part of giving and receiving, mentoring and reverse mentoring, has huge benefits to develop new levels of commitment and growth within an organisation. With 86% of Millennials wanting more than just a salary from work and to feel like they are making a difference mentoring gives them the sense of belonging so many are searching for. (4) 72% of Millennials also reported that they want a mentor in the workplace and having one makes them twice as likely to stay with a firm beyond 5 years. (5)

Investing the time and resources now to establish a strong mentoring culture will begin to lock in the future long-term security and sustainability of organisations. Whatever our changing world throws at us next, whether that be Ai, political or other economical disruptions, with an engaged and retained work force we will be best equipped to navigate that future.




Fran Boorman is an award-winning business leader who was named as the UK’s Top Business Influencer by Global Woman in 2019. Over a decade she built a multi-million-pound organisation that engaged a work force of over 1000 agents across the UK. The business became the fastest growing in its sector due to a robust mentoring culture that enabled it to attract and engage a motivated talent pool.

In order to share her unique system and process of developing effective mentoring, Fran Co-founded The company delivers the UKs Number 1 Mentoring Programme to corporate clients that uses sport and social value to help create an engaging training environment.




(1)    Livecareercom. 2019. LiveCareer. [Online]. [18 July 2019]. Available from:

(2)    Office of national statistics, . 2019. Labour Market Economic Commentary. [Online]. [18 July 2019]. Available from:

(3)    Elizabeth bell. 2019. Higherlogiccom. [Online]. [18 July 2019]. Available from:

(4)    Deloittecom. 2019. Deloitte . [Online]. [18 July 2019]. Available from:

(5)    Huffpostcom. 2019. Huffpostcom. [Online]. [18 July 2019]. Available from:



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