What is HR for?
Human resources exists to understand and support the people side of business. From finding and attracting the people organisations need, to developing, rewarding, engaging and improving how they are performing. The pace of change around us means we have to create agile businesses where we can access new sources of talent, and effectively upskill and reskill our workforces.
These have been the traditional areas of focus for the people profession, but the future will need to encompass a broader role in shaping the jobs, organisational structures, operating models and cultures that are sustainable and adaptive. The future of work is shaping the future of the people profession and its vital role in enabling and sustaining work, workforces and workplaces that are a positive force for good, for individuals, organisations, economies and society.
Getting the best out of people clearly takes a lot more than just working harder. How people are managed, supported and trained are all critical to improving performance, as is the nature of the work itself. Many surveys show there is much to be done in improving how people feel about work and how this connects to the challenges of productivity and driving innovation.
HR’s job is to ensure people are at the heart of work
Areas such as personal wellbeing are central to good work. People also want to feel included at work whatever their background, to have a voice and have influence over how they work, to use and develop their skills and talents, and have fair pay and conditions. All these are dimensions of the quality of the work and roles people perform that enable productivity, engagement, creativity and innovation.
HR should be at the forefront of improving the ways we manage, develop and support people, and in how we shape jobs and organisations to deliver sustainable and responsible outcomes. We need to move beyond the historical management philosophies of control, with too many rules and inflexible processes, and beyond the siloes of the past, to work closely with other key functions in shaping the future of our organisations.
Like every business function, HR should become more evidence based, using good data and understanding science and research to shape practices, and understand real outcomes not just inputs. HR also has to invest more in itself, to utilise emerging technologies to become more efficient and effective, and to build new capabilities in areas such as analytics as well as strengthening areas like job and organisational design. HR should champion better work and working lives, and together we all need to make sure that people are at the heart of the future of work.