It's time to talk all things Human Resources 'HR' (do we really still call it that?), the profession of, the integrity of this core people profession. My prediction is that it's about to get really interesting in the weeks and months to come.
Someone recently asked me what does HR look like in our new world, our new reality? More importantly what should HR look like in our new reality? I define HR as the people who look after your people (your employees, your workforce). I also believe that HR is a moving target, what I am referring to below is likely to be for a certain period of time, human resources is a discipline within the business so it needs to evolve in line with the business needs. I'm a believer that nothing is permanent, despite signing a permanent contract (I mean, really.. in this day and age we still haven't evolved from this way of thinking), having upfront expectations that the organisation will shift, yes, that means all of the business, no one is excluded.
1. I believe we need a robust people operational function, this isn't a specialist role of 'HR'. A core transactional back office administrative support is absolutely necessary and crucial for employees to be served, paid and be a port of call to have a majority of employee queries answered. Personally, I see this as a centralised or shared service function. There is a lot of sense in pooling resources for efficiency.
2. I believe 'Peoples People', is the strategic part of talent management, these are specialists who have deep expertise in organisational design, learning + development, rewards, diversity + inclusion, people engagement, people analytics, the creators of the employee experience, legal counsel, acquisition, it doesn't stop there. I believe we need to add in core experts in organisational psychology, communications and data analytics. Your people function need to have the tools to be able to engage, communicate, enable, measure and support your people. This group is the glue that brings the entire experience of your organisation into one single culture providing the tools and resources for business leaders to deliver. Therefore enabling all leaders to be accountable for their teams and people. Its important to know, just the same way the organisation reports its financial results, measure your people and predict trends to temperature check how the organisation is performing when it comes to human feeling and emotion, what experience are they having? Its important to recognise that many people will be suffering with grief and emotions, Covid19 has been traumatic for many people now and still to come. Its really as simple as having the time and care to ask people how they are doing, how they are feeling and taking the time to listen.
So what does that mean? You may need to consider repositioning resources for a period to time to reinvest into this type of expertise if you want to remain cost neutral. Life as we know it before Covid19 doesn't exist, to be truly efficient, we can't rely on generalists that are overworked, being pulled everywhere, we need subject matter experts. The benefit by upgrading core skills is to be in good shape to have your organisation become 'fit' for the coming months, possibly years. My instinct is that mental health challenges will rise, there will be more nurturing required for managers handling all sorts of daily employee issues and handle ongoing business changes including organisational changes that shift the org forward, many businesses will require ongoing restructures.
By enhancing more people skills now, these additional experts can help your organisation to understand organisational culture and its shifts, what learning content organisation needs to be able to thrive, measure mood and engagement of the workforce. Remember that when the going gets tough, its usually HR that gets the reduction of financial investment as a quick fix to reduce cost. I urge you to continue to invest in building capability that's needed to shift and pivot to meet your business strategy.
Communication will be required ongoing, to be effective there is a balance of messaging that is honest, timely, specific and authentic. Your employees need hope and reassurance, its not a given they remain motivated unless you continue to work at your relationship with them, that's where communication can bridge the gap (consider your employees like your consumers, that's the angle I come from), help them feel included and in the loop.
In a nutshell, HR has already evolved, under our noses, whatever you want to label HR (personally, I prefer People Experience), we are not in a traditional world, radical transformation needs to start with those looking after your people.
Zoe Walters is a people expert
this article is based on Zoe's own perspective and views.