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The consumerization of HR: HR’s days as middle man are over (2/2)

We expect the new HR to be supported by a high degree of automation and governed by a ‘one to many’ approach. HR professionals of the 21st century must be technology-savvy and incorporate new technologies in their way of working, as it is the most effective way to communicate with current and future staff. HR must adopt a straightforward, practical and uncompromising digital strategy with technology embedded in all aspects of HR.

The new HR must base decisions on data: Employers are sitting on a wealth of information about their workforce stored in HR systems, but are often incapable of finding answers because data cannot be accessed, is not aligned. As business cycles grow shorter, processing people data quickly and intelligently becomes a matter of survival when making critical decisions. One of HR’s key responsibilities must be to ensure that relevant, real-time workforce data supports strategic decision-making, and that all people decisions are based on data and analytics.

No corporate function can exist without being clear about the value it creates. As the knowledge-based economy transforms into a networked economy, the changes in the outside world mean that HR must reinvent itself to support a changing workforce. If the workforce of the future is smaller, more diverse, more dispersed, wanting a career lattice to support individual needs, expects direct access, and is digitally divided, than HR can’t do anything but adapt to this changing environment. If our business models become more agile, then agility is a fundamental requirement when designing the HR function.

We’ll see corporate HR develop into an organization which is increasingly centralized, organized at the global level with local involvement where necessary. HR must think of itself as a function that drives the business forward. Study after study confirms that people issues are top of mind with CEO’s – subsequently, dealing with people must be owned by the business as a whole, not exclusively by HR.

We expect the HR function to consist of an HR Service Center (insourced or outsourced) and an HR Consultancy team (combining the former Business Partners and Centers of Excellence) that delivers HR services using a project-based approach to quickly respond to changing circumstances that have an effect on the workforce. Agility and flexibility are key requirements in response to evolving business needs.

This change is not superficial: It’s about creating a single team responsible for designing programs as well as implementing them with the business and demonstrating tangible results. It’s about eradicating the middle man in HR. It’s also about creating a consultancy mind-set in HR, where HR professionals engage in projects that are required by the business and are responsible for delivering results. It’s about quickly assessing the highest workforce priorities and agile responses to business needs. And while a new name in itself does not change anything, it is a constant, visible reminder that the old way of doing things is gone.

The changes proposed here won’t happen overnight. It will take vision, leadership, dedication and resilience to change your current HR organization into a consultancy team. You will need to take a step back and have a good, honest look at the current state of HR and identify what works and what doesn’t. It needs a special focus on standardization and simplification while making sure that HR focuses on business priorities. And it means that you must find a way to demonstrate sound business sense and measure tangible results.

The future of HR is not radically different from what it is today. The changes can’t compare to the big shifts that are happening in our society. Instead of a revolution, we expect an evolution. But just because it’s an evolution that does not mean the changes are small. One thing is clear: The future of HR lies outside the HR department. And if HR professionals don’t grasp that concept very soon, the future of HR will lie outside the company.

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And the SlideShare here: