The human resources function as we know it will hit a wall—if it hasn't already. The Future of Enterprise, Workforce, and How Work Gets Done have rapidly shaped a new Future of HR. A digital mind-set, relentless focus on the customer, advanced enabling technologies, and simplified, nimble ways of working are musts to achieve positive business outcomes.
HR operating models have evolved over decades with a trajectory of increasing business impact marked by changing brands from "personnel department" to "human resources" to "people function" and "employee experience." The function has advanced from necessary administrator to a supporting function with a seat at the table, to business partner, and—in some cases—to trusted adviser.
HR's evolution has generally progressed at the pace of business and largely met the needs of enterprises along the way—or has been close enough for organizations across industries to thrive. Yet, the future demands something different from enterprises—and their HR teams—with tremendous urgency.
Today, enterprises are swimming through nearly constant change. Disruption is simultaneously affecting the enterprise and its workforce with increasing demands from customers, constant productivity pressure from competitors, and threats from unexpected entrants to their markets. Digitization and personalization of our daily lives coupled with the introduction of enabling technologies in the workplace at an unprecedented pace and scale create wholesale changes in the landscape of business.
Our research and pragmatic experience with the world's leading enterprises create a window to the rapidly unfolding imperatives that every HR team should explore as part of navigating the route to the Future of HR and we share those key insights here.
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It is an exciting time to be part of HR. Right before our eyes, HR is transforming into ways of working never seen before. The 1990s are well behind us and it’s fair to say that at most enterprises HR now has a strategic role in leading the business. This is a blessing, a challenge, and the biggest opportunity to create value that HR has ever experienced. As HR has moved into the boardroom and solidified its role in the C-suite, visibility to business imperatives is much clearer for HR and the opportunity to shape those imperatives from a workforce angle is greater than ever. In return, leaders are expecting that workforce programs evolve more rapidly and drive greater, measurable value.
To match pace with the lightning speed of change and disruption, HR organizations must manage their services like products that are able to evolve constantly. This is not new—in fact, many organizations have attempted to tweak their current operating model to deliver in an agile fashion for many years, with varying levels of success. Those that have tried and failed are learning that revolutionary change requires bold action. Small, or even more substantial changes to an old operating model will not deliver consumer-grade products with curated, personalized experiences. To achieve that, HR organizations must radically shift to an entirely new approach.
There has never been a better time to be a human resource (HR) professional. Companies now are asking HR to lead from the front. With the changing business expectations for HR, we discuss how HR can pivot to meet those challenges, and apply a five-step approach to effectively drive business imperatives through HR impact with meaningful investments in the right HR products, solutions, and services.