Future of Work

What is HR’s role in the future of work?

Although HR was once considered a stodgy support function, it’s now poised to serve as a strategic partner to the business, as relevant to success as R&D, sales, or production. But fulfilling that role will require nothing less than a transformation of HR itself.

Here’s what chief human resources officers (CHROs) across Europe and the United States expect from HR’s future operating model:

  • Digitization will elevate HR, for instance, by automating routine processes and by gathering and acting on employee data to make better decisions.
  • HR could help the organization become more agile and fluid if it breaks down the traditional three-pillar HR model and instead more quickly deploys talent to the matters most critical to the business or introduces agile tribes and squads.
  • HR’s business partners would refocus on advising top management, instead of attending to routine administrative tasks that could be automated or delivered via self-service platforms.
  • The creation of HR practice groups could tackle specific strategic, cross-functional HR priorities from end to end (for example, by creating a team dedicated to hiring digital talent at scale rather than delegating that task to recruiting).
  • HR will prioritize and organize around the employee experience—concentrating on what matters most to workers, especially during critical moments such as recruiting and onboarding.
  • Centers of excellence and centers of competence could be virtualized, giving HR business partners a dual role of supporting specific business areas while also creating a functional specialization that spans HR and the organization.
  • HR could put business in the driver’s seat, shifting responsibility for some traditional HR tasks to line managers.

Another area where HR has an opportunity to continue to step up is in the realm of people analytics. Most companies have a lot of data about their talent, but are these being used effectively to drive performance? Not always. People analytics can help organizations separate signal from noise, for example, by understanding whether a given company has a problem with attrition and, if so, whether that’s in certain job families, locations, or for specific types of employees. Ingredients for success in people analytics generally fall into three big categories: data and data management, analytics capabilities, and operating models.

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