We have an idea on the widely publicised future of work but what is the future of HR?
I remember walking into a big meeting in a boardroom after a difficult company change and seeing a sea of confused and weary faces. I knew long before the meeting that they had come from a very command and control management style, so it wasn’t an unexpected response; after introducing myself and my team, I simply asked them “what are your expectations of my team and I?”
As you can imagine, the room was even more confused by this question, and once I’d explained the true purpose of HR, it instantly built an effective working relationship, if we behaved as if we were in an ivory tower and dictated how they should work, it would not only damage our relationships, but it would impact upon our abilities to work efficiently, a no win situation you will agree.
HR is conditioned to stand up for what is right, for both employers and employee, so it needs to be objective, resilient but continue to challenge practices to enable continuous improvements. The sooner this is realised, the easier more difficult tasks become; it also encourages a collaborative and inclusive culture. By working with the individuals in that room, I was able to establish effective communications so we really knew what the concerns were and what we could do to resolve them proactively.
The future of HR is difficult to picture as it is always changing; with Brexit, advances in technology, GDPR, and mental health all listed as priorities, it seems that HR has a lot to deal with and cannot afford to drop the ball.
Speaking of Brexit; all we see are scary headlines that signify doom and gloom; the papers focus on potential job losses and Armageddon for the economy. In business the focus shifts to HR in hope that they’ll magically fix it all. The truth is, HR doesn’t have all the answers; there’s not a speed dial to Mystic Meg, we don’t know if Boris Johnson will finally get a haircut, and nor do we have a golden goose (but we’d all like one of those!). All HR can do is mitigate the potential risks to business and drive performance through it’s people.
To prepare ourselves, if not doing so already, getting our house in order is a good place to start, getting the basics right by paying people correctly, recruiting the right people for the right roles and being consistent will significantly impact upon how the profession is perceived.
Another essential part of the change process is to enable effective partnership with the business by enhancing commercial awareness, knowing the industry, trends and impacts will greatly enhance the position HR places itself in. This needs to be underpinned by wholly understanding business operations, this will encourage collaboration and demonstrate where HR can truly add value. Building on trust and developing relationships is a powerful tool that shouldn’t be underestimated; taking time to understand others their expectations, pain points and development requirements can have a positive impact.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not solely the responsibility of HR to facilitate change, it’s about how it is positioned. Being open and by managing expectations will support the changing business environment and retain trust. Understand exactly what your managers need so they are equipped to effectively manage, by empowering them, enhances their development, allows them to work autonomously by making their own decisions, and encourages positive mental health.
Within uncertainty, there lies opportunity such as utilising existing people resources; investing in the development of employees existing skills will support the pressure of change; play to their strengths and talents, find out their career aspirations, it will assist in retaining valued employees whilst diversifying their skillset.
HR are no different, they will also need to adopt new skills in order to be successful; being flexible and adapting to the changing environment is essential, if we stand still, we’ll fall behind and continue firefighting; this is frustrating as we prefer a proactive approach to our work, which makes us happy at work so finding the balance is vital.
No pressure then!
What are your thoughts on the future of the profession? Are there things HR should be doing now to prepare for the future? Are you doing anything now? I’d love to hear our thoughts so please leave a comment for me below!