We are continually surrounded by messages on what the future may or may not be like. What will and won’t happen in 2020? Recently that debate has turned to organisations, and the future fate of different departments or traditional specialisms. Human Resources has been one of those scrutinised.
Some believe that HR is doomed, due to reasons such as:
- Increasing specialist skills gaps between experienced HR professionals and those entering the field
- Systems-enabled employee self-service (finally) taking over areas HR have tried for so long to preserve
- Those within HR not seeing their evolutionary problem and continuing down the same path they always have
But others are more optimistic, and see HR in 2020 more like this:
- In-house HR will down-size, and outsourcing will increase
- The new core competency of HR will be strategic thinking
- HR specialists will be more prevalent, against the recent trend in generalist practitioners
There are some very interesting observations we can make on this debate. Firstly, 2020 is ‘only’ 6 ½ years away. If we think about the general pace of change we experience in organisations, will HR have vanished? It’s very unlikely. Secondly, what is strategic thinking? And surely that is the core competency of the Strategy team?
People have spent the last 20 years becoming recognised as organisations most important assets. We currently see more investment in Talent Management, Learning and Development, Employee Engagement and Incentive Schemes than we ever have. We have worked out that while we can continue to measure our financial outputs, we need to measure our inputs – our people (to steal a bit of Kaplan and Norton’s thinking). We have seen this because organisations want to – or want to be seen to at the least – take care of their people.
The future of HR is much simpler. Yes, technology will have a different, arguably increased role, in the future. So will outsourced contracts. But organisation will still want to take care of their people. Probably even more so than now.
The custodians of this ‘care’ are HR. So, far from being doomed, HR have the opportunity to understand their future role – how to care for growing and demographically changing workforces. This is an exciting future, and maybe the detractors need to look through a different lens, and not jump on the ‘HR is doomed’ bandwagon too quickly.
Knowledge work is the type of work many of us do today, including lawyers, engineers and consultants. In the future there will be an even higher demand for knowledge workers, and some predict a 40 million person shortage of highly skilled, college-educated workers by 2020 (McKinsey Global Institute).
So how will organisations respond to attract the best of these knowledge workers?
Harvard Business Review (January-February 2013) examined the issue of knowledge work from the angle of redesigning and restructuring knowledge work. The findings are interesting as they suggest that organisations need to prepare for more flexibility.
According to the article, many organisations are already identifying their key talent and freeing their time from administrative and other similar tasks so that they can focus more on the tasks only they can perform.
What you can do to assess your organisation’s readiness:
- Identify the skills gap – to understand what skills you need
- Analyse how skills are utilised – to understand if existing talent is being leveraged
- Conduct social network analysis – to understand how information travels
Based on the above it is then possible to better understand if roles need to be redefined, outsourced, or kept the same. And you can also decide whether you are really getting the best out of your top talent – now and for the future.
It is easier to focus on ‘business as usual’ activities rather than taking steps to assess your future readiness. But it is worth doing as you will be better prepared for the challenges that future ‘business as usual’ brings.
“Internal communications is vital to success, and when done well can provide strategic advantage through aligning employee efforts, sharing knowledge and engaging their passions”
An Australian report has been published examining the ability of strategic internal communication to boost corporate culture, productivity and profitability. The report reviews the many familiar barriers to effective internal communications, from silos to generational difference and power imbalances.
Able and How were asked to contribute to the report, providing recommendations on how to effectively ‘manage the internal conversation’. We talk about our experiences that highlight the importance of communicating change and uncertainty, with a particular focus on the leader as the ‘corporate compass’. In particular we outline the benefits of our Change Index tool, which assesses the key dimensions of change in order to understand and enhance change capability.
Pulling together insightful commentary from respected industry experts within organisations such as Mercedes-Benz, Ernst and Young and Deloitte, the report provides food for thought regarding employee engagement as a critical success factor. Above and beyond the theory, the report provides best practice tools, tips and guidance to help practitioners translate the language of strategy into action.
We were delighted to be a part of this project and recommend it to those seeking greater insight into both the tactical and strategic concepts underpinning effective internal communications.
You can order a copy of the report through Ark Group Australia.
Professor Veronica Hope-Hailey, Chair in Management Studies at the University of Bath, has been named as one of the UK’s top 25 most influential thinkers within HR. Veronica, who played a key role in the development of Able and How’s Change Index©, is placed at number 11 in this annual, peer-based ranking of the most influential [...]
LONDON — Recent analysis or Corporate Communications functions provides some surprising insights.
Something has happened to Corporate Communications. Not only are times changing but time has changed the function. Its future is now in doubt. And while that news is sobering, it is not necessarily the end of Corporate Communications. Many functions are already finding solutions. We examine these developments here.
Companies need to build their organisational change capability – not just individual skills. Change is something most global organisations have experienced in recent times. In particular, change driven by crisis is a topic many companies and experts are talking about.
At the latest CIPD conference in Asia, Singapore’s prime minister spoke of how dealing with [...]
SYDNEY 10 SEPTEMBER 2012 – Able and How has chosen the buoyant Australian market as the first step in its global expansion. The UK-based management consultancy will open their offices on York Street, Sydney on Monday 17 September.
Able and How specialises in planning and communicating complex change, including strategy roll outs, mergers and acquisitions, operational effectiveness and IT system implementations.
One of our clients is currently going through a major cost efficiency programme. They’re not often pleasant experiences, we should know, we’ve helped with a few. But if communicated properly, with employees kept firmly in mind, these difficult processes can be carried out effectively, with empathy.
We came across a good article by a chap called Tom Searcy that looked at [...]
It seems appropriate to talk about stars as the Olympics are in full swing in Britain, and we have just won our first gold medal in rowing.
Identifying star performers is part of common management theory in many businesses. However, while identifying them may be a challenge in itself, doing it consistently and often across many functional disciplines is even more [...]
We’ve just been taking a look at a discussion forum on The Guardian about leading change in the NHS. It’s an interesting read, with some eminently sensible suggestions on how our beloved health service could improve. Take a look for yourself.
To many observers, the NHS is a leviathan. A multi-headed hydra. It’s so [...]