What does the role of HR look like in a new world?

In celebration of International HR Day, Victoria looks at the areas of consideration that she believes HR can play an integral part in over the next couple of years.

Ladyboss HR

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Today (20 May) is International HR Day, so a massive shout out to all of my fellow HR professionals across the world …..you are doing an amazing job!  It is a day to recognise all the hardworking HR/People professionals around the world.  The theme this year for the day is about HR shaping the new future.  The last couple of years have been tough and HR has really stepped up and played a key role with forever moving parts.  If a business did not see the value in HR beforehand, I am certain they do now.  What is really important is that we do not fall back into old habits and HR be wrongly considered to be the policy writers, there to complete administrative tasks and police the workforce.  I am old enough to remember HR being called ‘Personnel’, which I used to find so frustrating as a trained Business Psychologist.  We have evolved and come a long way, but we do have an opportunity as a profession now to seize this moment and really carve a new future and perception of HR.

As the MD of a national HR and H&S outsourcing business, I am very keen for us to be thought leaders and drive positive changes for our clients that will ultimately enable them to grow and flourish through their people.  As a business owner reading this, you may have an internal HR function and it is as equally important for you to encourage and empower your internal HR team to do the same.  The areas of consideration that I believe HR play an integral part in over the next couple of years;

Transforming working practices

I have touched upon this subject a couple of times now, but we cannot as business owners ignore this.  How do our people now work?  Do they work from home, hybrid, four days a week…more flexibly?  Whatever that looks like for you dependant on your sector, it is an area of change that cannot be ignored.  We are hearing terminology like the year of the ‘Great Resignation’ and us living in a candidate driven market.  Inflation now stands at a staggering 9%, with the cost-of-living crisis set to continue.  This is undoubtedly having a direct impact on business owners and the main problem that my clients face right now is hiring and retaining good people.  This does not all have to be about salary, by being a progressive Employer and looking at flexible ways of working (if achievable) will make you stand out from the crowd, particularly if you are in a sector that hasn’t really embarked on this journey.

Developing People and Skills

This links to my earlier comment, we need to nurture and develop the people that we have within our business.  HR plays a key role in this and again it does not have to cost the earth to set up career pathways for people, learning and development opportunities etc.

Building leadership and Leaders

How many of us have promoted someone to a managerial role because they were good at their job?  I think we have all done it.  We promote the ‘technician’ that has no managerial experience whatsoever and we expect them to just run with it.  The other key point to make here is that there is a key difference between a ‘Leader’ and a ‘Manager’.  Do you have Leaders in your business?  Or is this an area of weakness that needs some attention.

Embedding the culture

This is a HUGE challenge right now for my clients.  We really do need to have a re-set and decide as business owners what is our culture, what should it be and how do we look at embedding this into the whole of the business.

Driving Equality and Diversity of Opportunity

How can we champion diversity and promote equality of opportunity for all?  What does this actually mean in the workplace?  It is not just a matter of ticking every box and doing nothing more.  There is so much research to demonstrate all of the massive benefits to having a diverse workforce.

Building Trust

If you would have asked me two years ago my predictions for HR now, I got this completely wrong.  I have spoken on several occasions publicly about the importance of looking after your people during the pandemic and that you would be remembered, and it would provide loyalty.  I am sure this is the case for many, but even from my own personal experience as a business owner this has not been the case.  It appears to have had quite the opposite effect and the psychological contract between employee and employer seems to have broken down.  There is a lack of trust for many, and we need to address this, establish the root cause and fix it.

Well, there are a few of my thoughts about the role HR needs to play in the next 12-24 months…..it looks quite exhausting.  I think I may need to go and have lie down now, as I am clearly going to be busy.

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