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Human Resources Has Taken on a Greater Strategic Role in Business Success


Human Resources Has Taken on a Greater Strategic Role in Business Success

The role of Human Resources (HR) is expanding substantially to incorporate needs often overlooked, as well as new needs brought on by the change-driven global economy impacting businesses of all sizes and across all industries.

Bersin by Deloitte recently released a significant research report, “Predictions for 2016: A Bold New World of Talent, Learning, Leadership and HR Technology Ahead.”

Scope of Human Resources Role

Historically some companies didn’t include HR in key strategic decisions, and HR didn’t have a place at the table among the leadership team. The ‘soft skills’ of HR leadership weren’t valued as highly as the hard skills of those with P&L responsibility.

Many changes in what now drives success in businesses of varied sizes within numerous industries are directly tied to a highly effective human resource function. This is particularly true for those business leaders who not only ‘talk the talk’, but also ‘walk the walk’ of “Employees are our greatest asset.”

Human Resource Leadership

As the importance of strong talent, often with specialized skills, experience and expertise has grown, the need for stronger HR leadership to guide all elements related to employees and talent across the entire organization has increased.

Previously the HR “leader” might have been a mid-level director, whose role consisted more of implementation than strategy or development. Today’s HR leader is often – appropriately – a C-level member of the leadership team.

Given the broadened scope of HR’s contribution to the organization, expectations for HR leadership include greater and more diverse experience along with expertise that spans leading people, understanding the breadth of talent needed to accomplish business objectives to maximizing deliverables from advanced technologies.

The “People” Element

Nothing happens in any organization except through people – leaders, employees, contractors, partners, and others actively working on behalf of the organization.

Many changes are taking place to improve the “people” aspect. Examples:

  1. Employee engagement dropped during the Great Recession (and then remained low), to the detriment of companies and employees. Leaders are now working to understand the basis for strong employee engagement, and implementing programs to increase engagement – with its sizeable benefits – for the long term.
  2. Company culture once took a back seat to other business priorities. Leaders now understand the importance of getting company culture “right”, and ensuring the business then operates in sync with company culture.
  3. Flexibility is being built into jobs and the workplace. The objective is to better address the ‘whole person’, inclusive of lives beyond work.
  4. Highly specialized skill sets and very explicit expertise needs change the baseline of how to evaluate and recognize an individual’s contributions. Recognition and rewards are being expanded from the singular recognition of a “promotion” to include a combination of promotions, lateral moves, cross-functional assignments and other viable options appropriate both for the employee and the company.

HR Technology Makes Huge Strides Forward

The old (lame!) HR systems are being replaced by technology far better aligned with the important and broadened strategic role HR plays within the company. New systems include many data collection and analysis options, people analytics, digital connections, new learning methods (e.g. massive open online courses – MOOCs), extensive external access, mobile options and means to track many types of information on a global basis.

Looking Forward

These changes to broaden human resources from a narrow “function” within a company to a much broader version inclusive of “all things people related” has been a long time coming. The expectations of HR professionals are now considerably higher as well, transforming the entire contribution of HR within organizations – for the benefit of the company and its employees.

Recalibrating Actions:

  1. Evaluate the role HR plays in your organization. Does it encompass the complete needs of the organization to achieve future performance and growth objectives? Is it appropriate to expand the role of HR to include elements discussed above?
  2. Does your HR leadership have the breadth and depth of experience and expertise needed for future company needs? If not, is that individual capable of gaining what’s needed? Do they have the respect of employees at all levels? If not, it may be appropriate to consider bringing in a stronger leader – to either manage or replace your current leader.
  3. Evaluate the investments needed in “people-related” technology to ensure your HR team has the tools necessary to excel. It’s critical for business success that they do!
  4. Ensure your leadership team is fully on board with HR as an equal player, and that communication flows well in both directions. Bringing on board and developing current talent to meet increased future needs will require a well-tuned team effort.
SourcesPredictions for 2016: A Bold New World of Talent, Learning, Leadership, and HR Technology Ahead, Bersin by Deloitte, 2016
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