The world of HR is going through quite a rapid change, at least in words. There are talks on managing different generations, embracing digital, disruption, innovation, technology, cloud, data, and lot more buzz words in the vocabulary today.
But do these developments change the role of HR? Isn’t HR still responsible for
- Bringing in people who can deliver the business agenda?
- Engaging those who are focused, capable, and have the bandwidth to perform?
- And just as before, isn’ it about knowing what kind of work force is required- the numbers, the skills, and when? Their cost and impact, and finally the steps to deliver results?
The fundamentals of HR or people management remain a constant despite us using and being swamped by big lofty words. We are still in the business of finding and leading people who can build services to satisfy our customers’ needs– the very purpose of an organization’s existence.
Yes, digitization, technology, artificial intelligence, and more are here. It’s not even a moot topic as to which of the these including human resources are more important. All are- in varying proportions depending on the kind of business one is in. Noteworthy is that without people, without knowledge workers, no technology or digitization can be created or sustained in the first place. Further, the end users are humans too so there is no way one can completely eliminate human resource out of this equation. Different kinds of jobs will get created to replace the ones taken over by robots. One can already imagine some future roles in the horizon- Director of Robotic Relations, Officer of Robotic Analytics and Effectiveness, and other intriguing ones.
We have been through agrarian, industrial, and internet revolutions, this digital phase too shall pass.
Then there is talk about big data which has always been there. Even though HR maybe a recent entry in this space, it isn’t by any means a break through innovation of the current times. Whether business intelligence, market, and consumer research, data analytics were always there. Our decisions in the past too were made on facts and data available to us, then. It is just that today, we have a lot more data on our hands and it is more readily being embraced and presented as a new wine.
Innovation, like digitization is another of those favorites in our working community. Why do we want everybody to innovate? Does the majority even know what it takes to innovate? Suddenly, organisations are going rampant in creating these divisions. It is great that somebody came up with this idea to build an empire for themselves, but really, separate departments? To innovate, the organization needs to create a culture that supports this beast, give people room to play than toe the line for compliance, and value the effort and not just the results for profitable growth. Are we there yet?
A concern for the future of workforce, employee-technology experience, etc. are other hot topics in HR today. These are the right ones as we have confused each other by morphing them into something we don’t understand anymore. Interestingly, the present state of work was at one time, the future state. What did we do then that cannot be replicated?
Individuals still and will continue to engage when they see what’s in it for them. Does their job align with their purpose? Do they see themselves making an impact? Are they compensated for the delivery of their services? Do they see growth, learning, recognition, and movement for themselves? If the answer is yes, without any additional incentive, people will go out of their way to support and develop the business. But when there isn’t that reciprocity, the so-called discretionary effort will vanish. An organization can keep trying, but some attributes cannot be bought. And yes, this holds true for the millennials and the not-yet coined generations as well!
So regardless of all the new trends and talks, two truths remain:
- The purpose of HR remains the same- to fuel the business with the right resources.
- The how or the way of doing things is changing.
Based on our unique business charters, we have to define HR- what it is, what it isn’t, and what it should be to get us to our respective blue dots. It is contextual so it is better to not get carried away or muddled up by all the buzz around.