Article: Empowering HR leaders to work with business: The 2024 Are You In The List Awards agenda


Empowering HR leaders to work with business: The 2024 Are You In The List Awards agenda

As a precursor to the People Matters Are You In The List awards, powered by Aon, we talk to renowned leaders about the changing role and expectations of HR.
Empowering HR leaders to work with business: The 2024 Are You In The List Awards agenda

HR leaders drive pivotal talent, business and workplace transformations in a disruptive and unpredictable world. On the one hand, rapid technological progress has cast a shadow of uncertainty on entire job roles and business models, and on the other, employee experiences are becoming increasingly complex.

To understand how HR leaders can respond to changing business expectations and deliver value, People Matters and Aon put together an exciting LinkedIn Live discussion as a precursor to the People Matters Are You In The List Awards, powered by Aon. Moderated by Ester Martinez, CEO & Editor-in-Chief, People Matters, the session saw an enriching exchange between Samir MC, Managing Director, Fortune Park Hotels Ltd and Director, Maharaja Heritage Resort, ITC Ltd and Nitin Sethi, CEO, Aon Consulting, India & South Asia. The conversation also gave a window into understanding the qualities that can help HR leaders make the cut and how HR leaders can benefit from participating in the Are You In The List awards. 

Contextualising talent acquisition in the modern business paradigm

According to Nitin, two broad trends impact how businesses operate fundamentally. One, the advancement of new-age technologies is forcing organisations to start building for the future, today. And two, governance issues, like ESG and DEI, have taken precedence like never before as customers, shareholders and employees expect organisations to have a purpose-driven business model. Both these developments influence the development of new products, the acquisition of customers, and, critically, the hiring and retention of top talent. To be talent-ready from a tech and governance perspective, employers must account for the following three shifts, Nitin explains:

  • Continuous business transformation: Regardless of industry and size, businesses today continually evolve to reconcile existing systems and processes with future aspirations, emphasising technical skills.
  • Regular disruptions: Whether in the form of global health emergencies or geopolitical conflicts, the world has witnessed a variety of disruptions in the past few years that have made skills such as resilience, agility and managing ambiguity highly coveted.
  • Changing expectations: While customers and shareholders expect innovation from organisations, people expect modern work experiences that are flexible, customised and engaging.

Navigating these challenges while simultaneously aligning people's goals with business strategies means that HR is no longer a support function, says Nitin. Just like the CFO manages capital for business operations, the CHRO actively manages human capital through the lens of adding value to the overarching business agenda. Aon’s latest Global Risk Management Survey shows that people-related priorities dominate the top priorities for CHROs across the globe, and for a good reason. How we attract, retain, and engage talent is critical to delivering business value.

In such an environment, HR leaders must first focus on understanding the business thoroughly. CHROs must get in the trenches and refrain from making policies and frameworks from the comfort of their conference rooms. The latter approach can lead to HR feeling stuck amidst rulebooks and frameworks without truly impacting organisational culture. Once HR leaders have the required business acumen, they can creatively solve human capital challenges using different tools appropriately.

Evolving business expectations from HR and corresponding skill demand

Samir says that the hospitality industry has been witnessing significant changes over the past decade, and the role of HR is pivotal to these transformations. From being business partners, HR leaders have become business leaders today, driving many business functions alongside other CXOs. Samir lists the following expectations that businesses have from HR leaders in today’s unique business and talent environment:

  • Accurately understanding the pulse of employees: Making the effort to truly listen to what the workforce expects, wants and needs by going beyond engagement surveys. This also includes understanding the unique challenges that employees face, both in the workplace and on the field.
  • Build talent adaptability for today and tomorrow: As businesses change faster than ever, senior leaders expect HR to devise new rulebooks that help people deftly meet existing and future expectations.
  • Understand new-age technology: Whether it’s gen AI or data analytics, there’s a very organic demand for HR leaders to understand modern tech tools to make their application seamless.

To meet these expectations, Nitin suggests HR leaders should focus on developing multiple skills simultaneously. What we need to do in the future is the starting point for how to transform today. He reiterates the importance of understanding how technology shapes people and processes and points to other critical skills necessary to thrive in today’s environment. He explains that flexibility, adaptability and the ability to succeed despite ambiguity are essential for building successful workplaces and cultures. Having the learning agility to account for different perspectives can help HR leaders develop and scale innovative people solutions. Samir adds that besides strategic perspective and data literacy, HR leaders also require higher levels of emotional intelligence as they support people working under pressure.

The People Matters Are You In The List: Nurturing next-gen HR leaders

To help young HR leaders develop these critical skills through personalised mentorship and development journeys, platforms like the Are You In The List awards by People Matters and Aon are vital. Having served as a jury member for the awards, Samir says that when picking future leaders, the focus is on identifying how HR leaders provide business value and going beyond the traditional HR framework to help organisations outperform the competition. HR leaders who empower businesses to grow faster by building a culture of growth, recognition and well-being will define the future of work by setting the right value propositions.

Nitin adds that having high levels of self-awareness is critical. HR leaders can thrive in challenging business settings when they understand their strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. The Are You In The List awards offer a valuable growth opportunity for young HR leaders to script a future where they can achieve personal and professional aspirations while delivering on the vision that businesses expect from them. Being a part of this journey can help HR leaders set high standards for themselves and continually raise the bar to make a lasting influence by shaping cultures, people strategies and employee experiences.

The evaluation process for People Matters Are You In The List powered by Aon has begun. If you are eager to know who the emerging future-forward HR leaders of 2024 will be, follow the #AreYouInTheList.

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Topics: Leadership, Learning & Development, Assessments, Strategic HR, #AreyouintheList?

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