How much has the human resources function changed since you started your career?
It obviously depends on how long you’ve worked in the profession as more change will have happened over a longer period of time, but think hard about our purpose and our core activities and they’ve stayed relatively similar for many years.
We still support employees, support recruitment, help support our employers to operate within the law, support employee relations issues and help ensure employees are trained and developed. Sure, we’ve evolved in many ways, and new specialisms have come to the fore, but our foundations remain the same. As are those in many other business functions.
So when so much gets written about what the HR function of the future is going to look like, you might think that this acerbic skeptic will start rolling his eyes and thinking ‘nothing’s really going to change’ but that’s not the case for me.
I’m being serious, I don’t roll my eyes. Okay, maybe there’s some slight eye-rolling action, but i’ve improved a lot on that front!
We are in unprecedented times. The economic challenges and post-brexit Britain (and hopefully post-Trump America), the pace of technological advancements and the emergence of evidence-based practice, make this an exciting time for our profession and one that I personally look forward to embracing. I’m genuinely more enthusiastic about what the future holds for HR now than i’ve ever been. But i’m not naive.
Our core activities aren’t really likely to change and there’s lots we can do already without waiting for the future. If our function remains similar to how it is currently, but with even more affordable and accessible technology, and with processes that are less ‘faddy’ and more likely to realise sustained improvement, then we can surely start to progress this work within our organisations now.
A quick straw poll. If you were to ask your business leaders what they wanted from a HR function of the future, how many do you think would say they want something radically different to what they get now? How many would like their HR function to be similar but with tweaks and improvements. I’d wager it’s more likely to be the latter.
Progress in HR can be achieved through marginal gains. The small, incremental improvements in all of our activities that can refine what we do, which in turn can help us become more prepared for when the big stuff happens. Because i’m very sure, the big stuff will happen.
So when you think about the future of HR, don’t be blind-sided by the fear of the unknown but be excited about what’s to come. Start preparing yourself, and your business by researching and keeping abreast of developments that are emerging. Improve your policies and keep supporting your business. Thats what our workplaces need right now, and in the future, irrespective of what comes next.
The future of HR is likely to be the awesomeness of now, but with new stuff, and with some tasks removed. There’ll be challenges, and there’ll be progress, but at the heart of it will still be us. You and me. HR Professionals with a desire to make a difference only with more interesting tools and agendas.
Doesn’t that sound exciting?
**** The quote in the picture was from memory from this excellent film with a stellar British cast. So I guess, what i’m saying is, it might be slightly different…. but you get the gist.