For years, the HR function tended to be populated by people who are stewards, meaning their role was seen as the protector of the organization. Because of this, HR tends to have passionate, long-tenured folks who have tremendous ability to reinforce the best of an organization’s culture.
The problem, though, is that the role of steward is not enough anymore. HR can be and must be more valuable. HR leaders should act as an integral part of the organization that is just as much an owner of the organization’s overall success as any operational leader. In future organizations, HR can and must have a role to play in helping the organization stay ahead of the curve, so to speak. That means leveraging some of the magic that we as individuals have when finding ways to thrive given constant change and innovation.
Exactly, how can HR do this? What’s required is an HR function that is focused on creating a digital experience that enables employees to go faster, be more agile, and nimble. HR should think more creatively to build models that are more team-centric, intelligent, and easy to use.
They should be willing to experiment, willing to listen to employees on the front lines, and be knowledgeable about their industries and what’s going on in the world. HR can do this by being more digital in its own experience. That is, adopting new mindsets – pioneering, evidence-based, collaborative, agile – and new technologies. It also means helping the organization at large to achieve similar transformation and digitalization.
Think about it this way: employees today don’t want to just survive in a competitive work world. They want tools and strategies that allow them to focus on the work needed to get ahead and, in turn, move the organization forward. In tomorrow’s work world, HR is expected to step into and play a vital role in determining the company’s overall direction and growth. In fact, innovation is to be coming from the HR function itself, and “being digital” is core to this belief. For instance, HR should be trying new tools, experimenting with new models, and adopting new learning technologies that allow talent to move from one project to the next, one team to the next, and even one manager to the next.
In the knowledge economy, talent is a company’s most valuable asset. That means hiring people is, by far, the most important thing companies do. When companies hire the wrong people, it’s hard to “fix” the problem and the company can lose a great deal of money along the way. What does that mean for the HR function? It means the recruiting process should be innovative and forward-thinking. It means the relationship between the recruiter and the hiring manager should be more communicative and collaborative. It means everyone involved should be more holistic in thinking about the goals of the organization moving forward. It means making use of people analytics and making sure employees are healthy and happy in the long run.
As the future of work marches forward, it’s important for the HR function to prioritize on continuous learning and on reskilling and developing employees to keep up with the overall changes in the way we work. The overwhelmed employee is a huge concern in today’s work world, and it’s up to the HR function to be innovative in the ways that organizations manage its employees. That way, employees can focus on what really matters: doing creative work that keeps the company competing and ahead.