If change is the only constant, then the HR organisation is central to the business architecture of managing change.
While flexibility, seamless experience, timely recognition and workplace support are necessary to drive meaningful impact to the business, the transformation agenda of the business demands new skillsets to unlock HR’s potential.
In this context, how should HR leaders think about their own skilling transformation? That was the central question posed to business leaders in a virtual roundtable discussion on the theme “Thriving in a Rapidly Changing Workplace: Essential HR Skills for Success.”
The Changing Business Context
“Post-COVID, the role of HR has greatly evolved,” said Kshitiz Sachan, Process Coach - Performance Management, Keka. “Companies have ushered in a shift towards performance, skills, and experiences.” Vikas Maheshwary, Associate Vice President - HR, Biocon Biologics, noted that the HR fraternity was forced to become more self-aware and think differently.
“The journey of change has just begun,” said Sqn Ldr. Dimple Rawat, Director - HR, Barco pointing to the integration of AI-based technology in the current stack of HR tools. The increasing business focus on higher engagement and business impact is leading companies to take flexibility seriously and align new metrics to look at DEI, productivity and engagement.
A Skills Roadmap for HR Transformation
“HR leaders must let go of traditional HR framework and they need to move to a continuous learning mindset, suggests Dimple. This is possible through a three-pronged skilling strategy:
· Identify the skill gaps: HR leaders must begin with a skills analysis to understand the present and future skills. They should identify gaps that can inform their training calendar.
Attending events, assigning mentors, and encouraging cross-functional collaboration will help stay abreast about the latest shifts in the industry. More importantly, learning about the business – whether that’s knowing the product/ service, understanding the top line and bottom line, market shifts, and embracing digital transformation – are all skills which will help transition the shift to strategic HR.
· Learn continuously: Consistently improving the skills of HR professionals fosters a culture of learning and contributes to the development of robust succession pipelines. Vikas emphasised how Biocon Biologics' Skills Centre of Excellence addressed the question of "what do I need to learn?" by incorporating modern technologies, role benchmarking, and skill inventories.
Learning technology can help guide individuals in understanding specific tasks within their roles by recommending subsets of competency, knowledge, skills, and attitude, making learning journeys more efficient.
· Integrate data-based decisions: “HR’s role is to carry out analytics-based actionable items to actually impact business”, believes Kshitiz. He recommended HR to adopt an incremental framework starting with descriptive analytics towards diagnostic analytics, prescriptive analytics, and predictive analytics.
Citing Keka’s example, he noted that the platform “started as a typical HR Operations platform, then built the technology to eliminate operational HR work based on data, and has now evolved into a platform to that helps the HR community become more strategic.”
Technology and Learning
In a fast-developing environment, technology has the power to support the pace of talent management practices and goal-setting processes. HR leaders must continuously update themselves on the new innovations led by technology.
As new innovations are developed, they need to build the skills to experiment, adapt and learn. For example, Biocon Biologics introduced an Enterprise Performance Management system wherein goal setting is based on a cause-effect relationship. Every employee was sent a ‘proactive nudge’ based on data insights.
“To make the most of technology advances, HR leaders need to work towards understanding the power of data to be able to advise the business with the right decisions”, says Vikas.
“As KPIs keep changing in a matter of months, people are required to learn rapidly as a culture,” he noted. “At Barco’s weekly HR meeting, every team member is given a trending HR topic and asked to present, thereby inculcating a habit of continuous learning and learning together”, shares Dimple.
The human element
The power of technology must be complemented with human cognition for true success. For example, Dimple shares how recruitment is no longer about hiring but is about talent management. It requires:
· Identifying high-potential candidates
· Nurturing and connecting
· Building EQ and listening
· Communicating growth paths
Initiatives designed around such irreplaceable human values will help HR as a community to stand tall. To build the essential HR skills for success, HR must weave together a learning culture, employee impact and organisational purpose.