Article: The journey to Strategic HR: Here’s how to create an agile workforce

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The journey to Strategic HR: Here’s how to create an agile workforce

There are multiple emerging technology trends like analytics, AI. But do we really know where technology, business and HR are going to be after five years?
The journey to Strategic HR: Here’s how to create an agile workforce

One of the most pressing questions that business leaders are asking is this:  

Is my workforce ready to face the challenges of the future?”  

In today’s uncertain economic situation, evolving political conditions, and emerging technological environment, there are multiple challenges and opportunities. C-Suite leaders need to know how to make their organizations nimble while they work with a modern-day workforce.  

Addressing a webcast on the topic, Francis Padamadan, Senior Director – Asia Pacific – RPO &BPS Practice, Kelly Outsourcing & Consulting Group and Sushil Harish, Director – India – RPO, Kelly Outsourcing & Consulting Group spoke about how companies can navigate the challenge of agility.

According to KellyOCG’s Workforce Agility Barometer Survey 2018, there’s a need for “agility, followed by ability”. The survey results are worrying.

- 2 in 3 businesses in APAC lack the agility to redesign to the change. 

- 2 in 5 C-suite leaders clearly feel that they are not equipped enough to recruit, engage and retain various generations. 

- One half of the so-called permanent workers are not going to stay for more than three years.

In fact, APAC shows the highest user of gig workers at 84%, followed by EMEA at 80%, a clear sign that contractual or contingent working is becoming more mainstream. Any permanent job within this region is not as permanent or stable for more than 18 months. 

HR of the future: 

There are multiple emerging technology trends like analytics, AI etc. But do we really know where technology, business and HR are going to be after five years? 

HR must become a strategic partner that will create a lasting impact on people and the organization.  “Only 31% of C-suite leaders believe that HR function is capable of providing a strategic workforce in the first place.”

Naturally, only half of the companies are engaging with their HR functions in the early stages of their business strategy development. HR must pick up the nuances of agile working, progressive talent management and talent acquisition by becoming proactive and business-oriented. Here's how: 

A future-ready HR organization

Earn a seat at the strategic table: HR must engage with business with real numbers, to take decisions that impact the top-line and the bottom-line. It is best to start small i.e. work closely with business heads, understand the short-term and long-term objectives and align what HR can do to transform the business.

65% of survey respondents stated that HR is engaged in business strategy at only the Operational execution / business support level. Only 21% felt that HR was engaged in the development of business strategy, and an even dismal 14% felt that HR took part in operational planning. HR leaders must ask themselves, “What can HR do differently to earn the seat?” HR must leverage its internal and external partnerships to reorganize their focus on providing market-intelligent, value-adding people solutions to drive business growth. 

Don’t just replace roles, re-strategize roles: TA professionals must not merely replace roles, they must understand the business need and re-strategize the role altogether. For example, why not recommend two different remote workers and split a full time role into two compact roles, to gain from contracted expertise? Make sure to put in place proper review and monitoring mechanisms for such agile arrangements to ensure success.  

Accelerate the cadence of policy updates: For a diverse workforce, a one-size--fits-all approach doesn’t work. HR must put in place multiple policies for different employee groups, and periodically review and analyze what works for which set of people. An organization’s agility depends a lot on its people policies. HR’s responsibility is to ensure the policies support the organizational growth.  

Technology is leading the workforce transformation, and will continue to do so. Designing and deploying innovative tools for productivity, effectiveness and efficiency is an HR prerogative. For example, KellyOCG has 22 bots in an operational stage. HR and TA leaders must experiment with technologies and develop a deep understanding of what works and what does not. This must be plugged by insightful human interventions. After all, once a chatbot or resume parser identifies the candidate, it is a real human who must talk and engage to make the final hiring decision.  

Where to start as an HR professional?

Understand the business: HR and TA must start loving numbers. Understanding business and budgets, how they work, how they are formulated, why certain business decisions are made and their impact. TA must start talking the business language, to be able to align with the business and achieve the objectives. 

Built trust: Earn the trust of leaders by understanding and speaking their language. 

Keep the learning curve steep: Learning is essential to stay dynamic. HR must explore the elements that keep the learning curve going, keep challenging the status quo, and bring value to the business. For example, while business leaders advocate for Diveristy and Inclusiononly 1 in 5 people actually get trained on D&I. 

Success for HR and TA will lie in what leaders can plan today for tomorrow. This means being agile as an HR professional, a function and as a business.  The major driving factors for an agile workforce stem from each business and people being different- diverse ages, verticals and strategies. Being a business-first HR person demands a mindset shift. HR leaders must start with asking themselves, “Are we willing to evolve to these changes?”

Topics: #FutureOfWork, Talent Management, Strategic HR

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