Embracing Technology: The Future of HR
Everyone is at a different stage of comfort and understanding when it comes to the value that technology can create. Organisations are at different levels of readiness in terms of embracing technology and then integrating it into the current business processes. And HR is no different. A lot of HR practitioners are worried about their future. Will technology make the function redundant? And while I believe the answer to this is ‘absolutely not’, the degree to which HR still retains its seat at the table largely depends on its ability to ascertain the value that technology brings beyond simple efficiencies and historical record-keeping.
“An excel spreadsheet or ‘intelligent system’ can't tell you about personal fit or the chemistry of a team. It won't have insights into an employee's aspirations, their work ethic or their attitude… There will always be a role for HR, and it will involve the ability to take data analysis and combine it with traditional HR competencies to present the best talent mix and people strategy for the current and future business needs,” says Stella Strazdas, an Executive Advisor and Global HR Leader Coach based out of the New York metropolitan area.
Business leaders, for many years, have grown adept at assessing sales analytics. Those numbers impact budget, human capital and research and development. Within HR, leaders need to understand that technology can help them provide the same type of human capital and performance intelligence. To achieve this, HR must examine how they can integrate technology across the entire employee lifecycle, because it is the sum of an employee’s complete interactions with an organisation (from sourcing to recruitment to promotion, retention, termination and retirement) that become the cadre of information that creates the data for predictive analytics.
And if HR leaders can come to grip with this, then go forth and help create this kind of technological transformation throughout the organisation, the role of HR is better suited to ride the wave of change that all businesses are experiencing.
This does mean that the traditional aspects of Human Resources will no longer be performed by human talent. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it means the skillset for tomorrow’s (and some can even argue today’s) HR leaders will evolve. If you think back to its inception, HR was an admin function where an attention to detail, filing and “words typed” were highly desirable. But as it evolved, we saw more HR practitioners with a background in law and industrial relations joining the team, which marked the function’s transition from administrative to employee relations. Then we entered the stage of business partnering, where the ability to read financial statements and strategize with human capital became essential. Talent development and the prowess to market oneself as well as create a brand for the organisation (and its departments) gave rise to a new set of HR skills that relied on effective communication and the aptitude to lead through influence.
Moving forward, the backgrounds that make-up HR leaders will continue to change, and I suspect we’ll see people with a lot more experience in process reengineering, technology, and data analysis. But HR’s ability to understand organisational assessment and design will continue to be a highly regarded and necessary skillset, as well as effective communication and leading through influence.
HR will always be a combination of art and science; it’s just that the ‘science’ aspect is growing at the moment. Its ability to continue to deliver a breadth of services that provide more strategic and longer-term value that can also explain the why for better talent recommendations and decision-making will be the key to HR’s future.