The HR function has evolved rapidly over the decades. From an administrative function to a support function to a business enabler, the importance and relevance of the role for organizations has only grown and matured with time.
Over the past decade HR leaders have earned the seat at the table and their perspective to every business decision has become critical. CEOs have in fact started to look at every macro decision with people at the centre.
The advent and advancement of technology and analytics contributed greatly to the growth of HR function. But without the capabilities of HR professionals to analyze, interpret, understand and then articulate the data, the growth of their function wouldn't have been possible.
Now as HR leaders gear up for a new decade and newer challenges and opportunities it brings, their role further needs to evolve. In a new decade of a growing gig workforce, the possibility of man and machine working together, and disruption in every corner, there are many new roles the HR leaders would have to take.
Here are five such roles we think HR might take in the future, as far as we can predict and understand it:
Chief Experience Officer
While the discussions over employee experience have been around for a while now, creating an ideal employee experience to match the needs of changing workforce dynamics at work — still seems to be undervalued and has a long way to go.
Although the onus of creating a great employee experience lies with each and every people leader, the responsibility to drive it would be with the HR leaders. With better people insights gathered by leveraging data and tech, the HR leaders can proactively create relevant talent strategies and policies. The technology will only make the task easier, through behaviors and conversations HR leaders along with business leaders would have to ensure a great employee experience for employees who will be significantly impacting the business bottomline with their intrinsic willingness to serve the company and its customers.
As Rajeev Bhardwaj VP HR Sun Life ASC puts it, employee experience has many elements. “It is the moment of truth with their day to day work; their growth potential in the organization; the way conflicts are resolved, and the way business is serving society, customers and clients. All of this together constitutes employee experience.”
Lara Hernandez, Senior VP, Human Resources, Hilton in Asia Pacific also shared similar thoughts and said, “Ultimately, the employee experience is all about empowering team members to fulfill their aspirations and creating a real sense of belonging.”
The HR of today and tomorrow would have to create a compelling employee experience that mirrors a company’s customer experience.
Talent & Technology Integrator
Technology is no longer just a nice to have tool for HR. It is increasingly being integrated across the various facets of talent management. Be it recruitment, assessment, selection, salary advice, learning, career management and collaboration, technology is being leveraged across the function. And although some might argue that this technological transformation be driven by the IT leaders, it is now the HR who has to be the one to take this responsibility as well.
Surely, the expertise would come from the IT professionals and experts, however, HR leaders would be the one to be able to integrate technology with the relevant talent needs for business.
HR leaders have to work on integrating technology not only with their own function but have to enable the entire organization to adapt to the digital transformation each function and entire business is going through. Moving ahead, as the technology gets more advanced, HR leaders have to ensure that the entire workforce is prepared to take on the challenges and make most of the opportunities.
They not only have to help technology, automation and human contributions collaborate but also forecast skills for the future and enable the workforce to build them.
In a recent report it was highlighted that majority of the respondents (80 percent) would rather have a boss who cared about them finding meaning and success in work than receive a 20 percent pay increase. People today are willing to put their efforts more towards meaningful work. They are driven by purpose and whether or not the purpose aligns with their employer is an important criterion for them.
The HR leaders of today and tomorrow have to be a part of this purpose-driven workforce. The scope of their role will go beyond the boundaries of their departments and companies. They would be responsible for the entire community. They have to represent and voice the needs of talent and drive change for them at a macro level.
HR leaders would have to be influencers beyond the organization, shaping policies, regulations and laws that support the new world of work.
Organizational Engineer or People & Business Engineer
As HR has already moved beyond being an administrative or support function, the way they approach each talent decision and take people decisions to drive business outcomes has also changed. The need for HR leaders to be adaptable and strategize for agile talent policies can’t be stressed on more. In the last decade, there were a lot of conversations around bringing in the concepts of design thinking while making talent decisions.
In the new world of work, HR leaders are the architect and the engineers of the new organizational culture and structure. They have to think like engineers and product teams, help cross-functional teams organize, continuously iterate and deliver compelling employee experience.
Businesses today require well engineered talent strategies for driving their growth. A lot of thought, research, analysis and multiple iterations has to be put to make every talent decision. From framing a recruitment strategy to deciding the compensation and benefits policy to designing the career roadmap for employees, HR leaders need to think and work like an engineer.
With people at the centre of business, HR leaders role will now be that of the organization’s engineer who works on building, sustaining, and constantly innovating a workforce and a business that strives and thrives amidst rapid disruption.
Chief Change Officer
As Apurv Choubey, CHRO Bridgestone India articulates it, “The role of a CHRO will be that of a change enabler and should be appropriately called Chief Change Officer.”
Culture is the foundation for every organization and hence a fundamental element for any organization's transformation journey. As the ecosystem demands the businesses to constantly transform, enabling change will be a focus area for most of the organizations.
As disruption in business is preceded by disruption in the way people engage, interact, and work, HR leaders become the custodian of talent and the ones to drive such a change across the organization. They have to lead the change management strategy for the entire business and empower everyone from C-Suite leaders to front line representatives to speak the same language of agility.
HR leaders of 2020 and beyond have to be as well as develop agile leaders and create change-ready organizations.