With so much buzz around “The Future of Work” it seems only natural to think about “The Future of HR”.
Certainly, it feels like there is a shift occurring in the field. The external imperatives are there with, technology, globalisation, growth, change and consolidation. The business environment is also evolving rapidly and the need for transformation, innovation and agility is critical.
Whilst HR now largely has its desired seat at the table, the hard yards are not over. HR must demonstrate that it is not only required at that table, but due to insights on the workforce, its input into strategy is the key driver of organisational strategy and success. The function must anticipate the impact of these factors and drive decisions that ensure the workforce can execute as required.
The workforce is too often assumed to just materialise within business strategies. It should, however, be given upfront focus being the primary source of competitive advantage for most companies and the core execution vehicle for strategic and operational objectives.
Emerging HR must step up to its peers as an influencer of business outcomes, become a true strategic contributor, and fuse itself as a key player with the CEO and CFO.
Workforce planning and analytics
A major enabler of this vision for HR is Workforce Planning and Analytics (WP&A). WP&A is increasingly recognised as a core part of HR’s move towards such a position, and whilst internal capability is increasing, it is largely still lagging. WP&A is on a trajectory similar to today’s reward functions. 20 years ago, pay management was undertaken by consultants or generalists with limited support from employed specialists – and now reward is embedded in HR as a core functional offering. WP&A is the next frontier for HR, but when?
Business leaders are increasingly recognising the importance of workforce data and seeing the inherent link to company performance. This is not just about reporting standard workforce metrics and dashboards. It is about providing real commercial and financial acumen, talking the talk of the Board, and understanding risks to strategy execution.
HR, if it realises its full potential, is the rightful leader of this conversation as the custodians of the workforce. To realise that potential, we have to build the function’s confidence in using numbers to shape and deliver effective solutions to meet business objectives. But first, HR has to decide that this is where it wants to go. This is a step-change in delivery. For some HR leaders, it can be difficult to understand the value because past experience with applied analytics in this space is sparse. However, the impact of getting it right is huge.
What it does mean is that the HR function is no longer just about paying people, reactive recruitment or rolling out the standard “toolkit” of one-size-fits-all L&D. It’s not even just being a “business partner” and having the business tell us to enact something “HR make this happen”. By bringing a data-driven workforce view to the table that is inherently aligned to business drivers, driven by a holistic understanding of the organisations goals and competitive advantage, HR becomes a proactive and indispensable contributor to strategy, transformation and direction.
Take your top two or three priorities for your workforce this year. Whether it is culture, performance management, engagement, learning or leadership, imagine having the insights to correctly target and maximise the success of your program, tangibly show returns and impact, whilst genuinely supporting the achievement of business success for your organisation.
If analytics and insight were the starting point for all HR programs, the business strategy would be translated into workforce implications, thus setting clear priorities and focus for maximum success, and then setting the basis for measuring this success. From that, it’s easy to win the hearts and minds the people who make it all work, leadership and line managers. Customised, targeted and innovative delivery of solutions that drive real business impact is the real future for HR.
The right analytics aligns HR with the business and with finance. It provides a quantitative basis for intricately understanding the workforce and facilitates great discussions. I have been in rooms of large listed companies where the dialogue created from WP&A has uncovered misalignment in business direction between a CEO, COO and CFO, and then brought them back together.
The inclusion of HR with the CEO and CFO to fuse strategic, financial, and people issues into business strategy is the future of HR.
eQ8 software, developed by QHR, integrates leading Strategic Workforce Planning methodology, extensive global research with cutting edge artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities into a powerful cloud-based solution. eQ8 brings a new edge to organisations looking for competitive advantage through alignment of workforce to their key business imperatives.