If you subscribe to the view that HR is a profession paralysed at the crossroads of progress then you’ll probably have no problem identifying with the fact that the function has spent most of its formative years, post the Industrial Relations era, crawling in the corporate slow lane, looking in the mirror cursing our embarrassing profile.
The sad truth is that this pedestrian like reputation and flabby financial waistline has conspired to keep us away from the glitz and glamour of our own boardrooms for decades - except of course when we are summoned by the Board to explain why on average only 13% of any workforce is “highly engaged”.
So what, as a profession are we doing about our image issue? Well, as any senior HR person will tell you, we have all previously dabbled in the art of an attempted makeover – otherwise known as a HR transformation. Often, with a religious adherence to an Ulrich operating model or spurious business case predicated on cost cutting of anorexic proportions, these gargantuan exercises in overhauling HR often compounded the image crisis. Our business peers just saw frivolous investments in technology implants and gimmicky service fillers that failed to yield any improvement in human capital performance whatsoever. No surprises then that only 7% of leaders today believe that HR can successfully transform itself.
Time then for a rethink if the perceived wisdom is that HR can no longer continue to transform itself in the normal way by tinkering with structures and processes.
What HR should be doing, without any doubt at all, is delivering a competitive advantage to the business. Therefore that’s why leading organisations that recognise this are investing in HR to drive stakeholder value. As an example of this, the concept of human capital as a balance sheet asset is not just being spoken about, it is receiving hard cash investment from businesses who want to know the value of their people.
In these organisations HR operational effectiveness and efficiency have become just table stakes. The more they can reduce the drudgery and noise of admin through improved processes and cognitive technology, the more capacity they free up for High Impact HR. In Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends Survey 2015 we have identified evidence that the adage that culture eats strategy for breakfast is at last resonating with a new dynamic breed of leadership who realise that their personal performance is increasingly dependent on HR. The successful HR functions of the future will have more resource focused on culture and engagement than on basic HR operations.
In the future, stewardship of the corporate vision, coupled with challenge-based strategic interpretation, all clasped firmly in the hands of a forward-thinking and agile HR function, makes for a winning combination. What is now clear is that to cement the reputation and profile of these ultra-progressive HR functions there is a clamour to embed human capital in the economic consciousness of the organisation.
So it would seem that finally, the new Supermodel HR function has realised that its impact stems from stopping to try and enforce notional interpretations of good practice or mirroring the seemingly pointless cost benchmarks of competitors. Instead, a confident HR views its role as ensuring the complex ecosystem of human capital is given the environment in which to grow. Except now, armed with power-assisting supplements of analytics, cloud-based talent technology, demand-led workforce planning and supportive senior leadership, HR has, for the first-time, the capabilities to go with the ambition.
For HR to be successful in the new world of work and respond to the challenges that the business faces it must be bold. HR’s leadership is faced with one simple choice: pull over, park up in the layby and take a snooze as the business drives off into the distance; or grip the steering wheel tighter, put your foot to the floor and join us over the coming weeks as we take you on the ride of extreme HR transformation where HR isn’t in the backseat, it’s up front, strapped in and navigating the leaders through the talent challenges of the future.