Rethinking HR for a Changing World

Rethinking HR for a Changing World

Solo’s governance lead Matt Simkin reflects on this week’s debate on the future of HR and how it must add value to the business in the future

KPMG has recently published Rethinking Human Resources in a Changing World.  The report reminds us of how it feels day-to-day in organisations; the attention on reducing and optimising cost.  HR has played its part through making the HR function more efficient, though not always more effective whilst trying to become more aware of the organisations in which it operates.

The report states that the key challenges facing HR are: balancing global and local needs; managing a flexible workforce; and retaining the best talent.  Some of the statistics within the report are worth considering, for example 81% of respondents (418 executives) think that talent management was critical to future success.  In stark contrast only 17% believed that HR does a good job of demonstrating its value to the organisation.  Clearly that needs to change for HR to be seen as vital for growth and survival, rather than an overhead to be cut.

This report and many others, including the CIPD research report Business savvy: giving HR the edge  argues that HR needs to move from beyond its functional boundaries and become truly embedded within organisations with a real understanding of how the organisation operates.  The analysis of accurate metrics and data is emphasised by both – that data enables sound business decisions to be made.

Seeing the bigger picture is difficult when HR departments are still in the mind set of providing administrative support rather than strategic direction, but I would argue that to add value, HR needs to become more business-focussed and strategic.

KMPG believes that talent management, for example, is something that can be applied at a global, or national level but to be fully effective local variations need to be built in to provide interventions required.  This takes time and a trust in people’s ability to move from policy to the benefit of the organisation without showing favouritism or prejudice.

How can this be achieved as HR reduces its own costs?

My solution would be to ensure line managers have the skills in place to ensure retention of top talent, to deal with a flexible and varied workforce and to help us have reliable and useful workforce data.  Coaching, mentoring and developing line managers whilst supporting HR practitioners to become business savvy is vital.  Without addressing both it is hard to see how HR can retain its relevance in a changing world.

– Matt Simkin

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