The future role of human resources is one of 'architect'

Guest Contributorby Perry Timms | Posted | Career Management

The future role of human resources is one of 'architect'

Today's guest post is from Perry Timms, a skilled facilitator, coach and mentor qualified in change and a range of psychometric tools. A Chartered Member of the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development), Perry has been leading business improvement and change for over 20 years.

In this post, Perry shares his thoughts on the three most important influences shaping the role of human resources: humanity, technology and flow.

Predicting the future is an exciting, perplexing and dangerous thing.

The future comes at us a little quicker than it used to and with technology and disruptions in geopolitical movements, it is even harder to predict. Who'd have thought three years ago that exoskeletons powered by thought would bring mobility to amputees? Or that you could recruit someone from the other side of the world through a social networking tool where you chat in 140 characters or less?

The role of human resources and predicting what work will be like "in the future" is more intriguing than ever as for all the changes we see, much actually stays the same. Paperless office? Virtual meetings the norm? Yes we have reduced how much paper we print, and yes we conduct video conferences.

Yet you go into any coffee house, corporate office or hotel lobby and people are still meeting each other face-to-face - formally and informally. People are still reading printed out emails and annotating notes on them for follow up action.

Some habits die off slowly.

So when I was asked to blog about the role of human resources and the influences shaping the future of the profession, I wanted to craft something worth reading. Something I genuinely believed in and not a mash-up of thoughts from others. There are some influences (pun intended of course), but this here is largely a mix of my hopes, beliefs and realistic expectations of what the HR profession will be like in the next 5, 10 and maybe 15 years.

Future prediction 1: Remain focused on the humanity within us all - people are people

We meet each other in person because we are social animals. It takes more than a revolutionary digital connection to move us away from the pleasures and comforts found in being in the same space as others.

Already, parts of the HR machine are just like that - a machine with robotic employee surveys and organizational charts with people in boxes. In order for HR to mean something to the organization it needs to be efficient in the processes that no-one should notice (but we all need).

This automation ensures the role of human resources becomes focused on meeting the needs of people across the organization. This allows the HR department to become a place where people's souls, spirit and needs are championed and used to design the organization and make a difference.

HR needs to become the place where people, psychology, behavioral science, team dynamics, welfare and rights become the associated trademarks. That is where competitive advantage lies. Not in policies that stop people from using social media i.e. YouTube.

Future Prediction 2: Become a digitally-sound practice field through harmony in a people & digital fusion

If I had a penny for every time I have heard an HR pro say they don't get or use technology I'd have about ?450 (aka ~$700 USD). That Luddite thinking is no longer good enough. People use technology; it pervades their personal and professional lives. If we can't be the ones to work out whether that technology is good for employees, the company and customers/partners, then we're not doing our jobs properly.

With an increasing need to become more efficient, competitive and responsive to customer demands, we need to use technology to solve problems and leverage opportunities. People in the workforce are increasingly using a digital technology device for their entire working day.

This is unlikely to cease and will only increase with new forms of digital interface and capabilities. Do we really know how this pervasive use of technology is impacting people's habits, behaviors and their levels of skill? Not as much as we should.

That's why the role of human resources needs to include a command of web psychology and trends in using digital and social technologies in leisure. We cannot stop at simply knowing about them; we must use them. Only then will HR be able to state without refute that it understands the needs of people in the workplace (see future prediction 1).

The future role of human resources requires HR professionals to become trusted advisors; where all other parts of the business - including IT - respect their insight in understanding the people dimension around the use and exploitation of digital technologies.

Future Prediction 3: Become the center of success - people do their best when they have flow

More than anything else, HR can and should become much more inventive in the shape, scale and structure of the organization. There is a growing bank of research that says hierarchies no longer get the best out of people nor do open plan desk rows of head-set wearing employees.

We need to become the geniuses of flow by creating a culture where people are at their optimum. The role of human resources is to create that environment then make sure that what the organization does will not get in the way of productivity. It sounds simple but HR is notorious at inculcating the pyramidal structure; the tight terms and conditions and role descriptions; appraisal routines and seating plans.

People have had enough of it all and HR will need to steer organizations into creating more nimble, responsive workforce management practices if they want to continue to attract and retain the best talent available.

HR needs to become the architects of great structures which can go loose to tight when the situation needs it and build for agility and invention - not rigidity and compliance.

So there we have it. The future role of human resources lies in three key areas: Humanity, Technology and Flow.

If you want to be part of that (re)evolution, come help us make it so.

For insights on the trends and challenges impacting the HR profession today, read 8 reasons to attend your HCM vendor's user conference.

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