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A Wakeup Call for Human Resources


If you are an HR Professional or aspiring to become one, here are a few thoughts which I hope will serve as a wakeup call and help you reflect on your future steps. As you may be aware the Human Resources function has been going through many transformations. The HR function is in the center of yet another transformation which will make or break the function, if the function and its members do not make the relevant adaptations. That’s why I am calling this a wakeup call for Human Resources.  So what do the HR Professionals need to wake up to? Let me share a few key inputs.

Business Focus – The key agenda of the HR Function is to enable delivery of the business goals by leveraging the people in the organization. HR needs to adopt a business view of understanding the business goals, aligning the HR actions to the business goals and ensuring an impact on the top-line and bottom-line outcomes of the business through HR. This is emerging as a key expectation from the business leaders as they want HR to speak the business language and align everything that HR does to ensure business success.

Champion People – While HR has to deliver the business goals through everything it does, it cannot be at the expense of championing the people issues. HR has a sensitive role to play in an organization – that of a Business Partner and that of an Employee Champion. These two roles may not see eye to eye on all issues and hence the need for HR to play a sensitive role. This will depend on the perception that HR has developed in the organization – whether they are being seen as a Corporate Cop or Management Rep or as a Neutral People Champion. The key expectation is whether HR is representing the employee issues to the leadership team and communicating the leadership messages to the employees.

HR Analytics – The writing is clear on the wall that a data driven approach alone will help HR to get into the boardroom. Business wants to know whether the HR Programs and practices are having tangible impact on the business goals. For this HR needs data and HR Analytics has emerged as a critical tool to show the business impact. Whether it is a monthly dashboard or using software to capture the values created by HR, it’s critical to find out what will be relevant in your organization and do that immediately. HR should also know how to develop a measurement driven mindset as that will form the foundation for this change.

HR Organization – The way the HR Function is organized has been going through a change as well. A significant portion of the HR function is being outsourced – be it payroll or recruitment or HR support. This will continue until a majority of the non-value added activities are taken out and only the value adding activities are retained. This is a good move for the HR Professional as it will shift their focus from transactional to transformational tasks. Now the question for the HR Professional is whether you are performing a value adding or non-value adding task and know that it can determine your future in the organization.

HR Focus – As an HR Professional, you have to reflect on whether you are working towards HR Effectiveness or Organizational Effectiveness. While the focus on HR effectiveness is good, the emerging expectation is for HR to come out of its silo and focus on the wider organization effectiveness. Focusing on organizational health and effectiveness will pave the way to the boardroom for the HR Professional.

HR Competencies – Are you up-to-date in terms of the skills and competencies expected of a HR Professional? While the key skills in terms of HR Processes, legal requirements and other skills are critical, there is also a new set of skills being expected of the HR Professional. Being able to diagnose organizational challenges, design interventions, facilitate change, coach leaders, and leverage technology and analytics, are some skills at the top of the list.

I have shared a few key inputs on the focus areas for development for HR Professionals to help them become relevant and up-to-date on expectations from the business. These are key expectations and they continue to influence the evolution of the HR function and the career path of the HR Professional. A starting point would be to explore the world of Organization Development or gain advanced HR Business Partnering skills to acquire skills in the areas I have shared above.

All the best for your learning journey.

About IOD:

Institute of Organization Development (IOD) offers Online Human Resources Business Partner Certification Programs (HRBP) to help participants develop skills as HR business partners to support senior leaders with business strategies and HR initiatives.  After completing the program, participants earn a certification as a Human Resource Business Partner and earn the distinction of HRBP, a highly valued distinction.

The HR Business Partner Certification Program (HRBP) is offered online over 8 months, 3 hours per month to advance your career in Human Resources.  Each session is delivered online and is facilitated by our expert faculty geared to engage participants in lively discussions, provide examples, tools, guidelines, and resources to enrich your learning.


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