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Change is inevitable
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The ever-transforming role of the HR leader

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25th Jan 2016
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It’s become a truism that the world and work, and even the very nature of work itself, is changing. However, what this really means – including what issues it will throw up for HR leaders of today (and more importantly tomorrow) – is still largely up for debate.

In the whitepaper Four Powerful Strategies to Empower HR in 2016, we tackle some of the key issues, but if there’s one concept that arguably wraps all this up, it’s the fact HR leaders must increasingly be both more personal and authentic, and yet also use HR technology to make data-driven decisions to add real strategic value.

It’s an interesting dichotomy.

We’re moving away from HR in a box, where the role of the function is to tell employees what they need to do.

Now, an HR leader’s role is more about knowing how their people are feeling, and how they’re getting on in their job.

The Facebook/instant messaging generation we have today means constant feedback is crucial – it is what we have all become accustomed too.

It’s all about the value of interactions (noted, and acted upon, more instantly), and not about them having to wade through lots of red tape to get seemingly simple requests answered.

So what’s next for HR?

What’s encouraging is that the HR function is rapidly realising this.

HR leaders now spend on average 30% of their time doing administration, this is not time well spent.

Organisations are moving fast to try and accommodate these pressures, and amongst the best, doing this can only add to HR’s internal credibility as a function that can get things done.

We’re moving away from HR in a box, where the role of the function is to tell employees what they need to do.

HR now hold a stronger position in the boardroom as most organisations begin to understand the benefits of strategic HR thinking.

However, it’s not going to be an easy journey.

A problem is that HR is far less visible when things are going smoothly – that is, when the right people have been recruited, and are doing their jobs well.

Unfortunately, all too often HR’s presence in organisations rises to the surface when things are not going as well as people had hoped – when staff attrition is running too high, recruitment and talent pipelines are slow, or when performance of new hires is not meeting the expectations of their managers.

Understandably, if HR leaders are only pulled up to answer why costs are rising, then it’s easy to see how confidence can remain below where it should be. 

A problem is that HR is far less visible when things are going smoothly.

The task for HR leaders is both to promote themselves, and the profession as a whole, as the people who create good cultures and design good processes that mean they do not have to remedy the things that can (and will always) go wrong in businesses that are employing people.

Empower employees

To do it though, perhaps there is more of a need for an agile HR – where systems and intelligence are there, but only to support, rather than dictate, the direction HR takes.

Fortunately, employees do want to feel part of their own destiny within the organisations they work for. They are more than happy to input their own data, update it when necessary, and drive the self-service agenda.

Smart HR technology gives employees ownership of their information. HR professionals in 2016 should not be handling leave requests and performing shift swaps when the employees can and want to do that themselves.

This should leave HR with much more of the time they crave (for HR has always been willing to change – it’s just often, they’ve lacked the time).

This is the time they need to really add to the strategic value they know they can provide.

It’s time for HR to embrace data

The tendency for all discussions around data, and technology-driven insight, is to worry that this will create huge amounts of information – that so called ‘big data’ will have negative impacts, and create a situation where information swamps rather than prompts.

But great HR leaders will become those who know which information they need to process, and which they don’t. They’ll know what is necessary and important, and what is not.

It’s only the inexperienced who will take one piece of data (high absence rates amongst sales staff on a Friday, for example), and in isolation decide it’s telling them something which it may not.

Good HR leadership will be more about combining different datasets, and coming to better decisions.

Take the absence example again. Perhaps, when HR also looks at how much driving their firm has demanded their sales staff do between Monday-Thursday, a different, wellbeing-related conclusion may occur instead.

That’s getting to the crux of matters.

These are exciting times for HR leaders. There is change at their door that the very best can be at the forefront in leading. By transforming organisations, HR professionals have now also transformed their own roles.

Would you like to know how you can be more effective in your HR role? Download ‘Four Powerful Strategies to Empower HR in 2016’ today! Or visit the CoreHR website to find out more about us.

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