‘HR’ is becoming ‘People’ – here’s 4 ways leaders can get ahead


Have you made the transition from HR to People yet? Just 18 per cent of HR leaders believe their organisation has.

That’s according to insights from over 500 HR leaders in Australia, Europe and North America. Sage polled them to find out how they’re getting ahead in today’s changing world of work – with interesting findings.

Here are some of the more interesting take outs from the our report, ‘The changing face of HR’:

The HR to People transformation is real  94 per cent of HR leaders expect ‘HR to People’ transformation changes over the next three to five years, with 47 per cent expecting these changes to be significant.

The way HR operates is evolving – Over a third of HR leaders have adopted new ways of working, such as flexible working, data-driven decision making, and continuous performance management.

The technology used in HR is changing – Cloud (43 per cent adopted) and mobile (36 per cent adopted) are top priorities for HR and People teams, but 43 per cent are concerned their organisation won’t keep up with changes in technology.

New HR skillsets are required – 86 per cent of respondents believe HR skillsets need to change. Worryingly, fewer than one in three HR leaders rate their competency levels as ‘expert’.

More than a name change

The sense from the sector in the research was unanimous: it’s shifting its focus to people. Just as Personnel changed to HR in the 1980s, it’s now evolving into a People function. Here’s four ways our research showed progressive People leaders can get ahead.

  1. Drive agile ways of working

In HR, agile work means teams can implement changes faster. They can get faster feedback and take remedial action. By continuously re-designing better ways of working, they can see a quicker impact on productivity.

Ultimately, organisations need to be responsive to market shifts and changing customer needs. This requires companies to be flexible, adaptive and agile. Yet, our findings show that less than a third of HR leaders currently operate an agile HR model.

As organisations across the globe move to more agile ways of working – operating as networks and in cross-functional project groups – HR will need to provide the skills and capabilities to design and enable such organisational agility.

  1. Address the HR skills gap

The challenge of plugging the skills gaps within HR has been vastly underestimated. Eighty-six per cent of respondents identified a need to reskill; a global HR skills crunch is almost inevitable.

HR and People leaders feel they are weak in areas such as behavioural sciences, technology, people analytics and communications. This is a concern as these areas were rated by respondents as important in the coming years.

Identify skills gaps in your team now and think about where they could be in the future so your organisation can plan ahead.

As well as upskilling existing HR experts in new people-focused and technological roles, companies have also acknowledged they must diversify, and source skills needed from non-conventional routes.

  1. Get ahead with technology

Technology, such as automation and analytics, enables HR to work smarter, faster and more strategically.

Actionable insights, for example, are vital for effective decision-making. Automation frees up a third of HR teams’ time.

With 43 per cent of HR leaders believing their organisation will not keep up with changes in technology over the next 10 years, there’s still a lot to do.

  1. Make the business case

Worryingly, 53 per cent of HR and People leaders told us they can’t make the business case for change.

Investing in your people is one of the most important business decisions an organisation can make. It’s non-negotiable for the success of your organisation. Building a robust and comprehensive business case is the most powerful tool you can use to get that all important slice of budget.

To do this, align your goals with the company’s overall strategy and demonstrate how change will impact the overall business plan.

Be the face of change 

Many professionals got into HR to change people’s lives for the better, if even just a little bit. Though the challenges ahead in the sector appear vast, so are the rewards.

Thanks to technology like analytics and automation, HR can transition from being process-focused to people-focused. HR and People leaders will then be able to move from the backroom to the boardroom and make a demonstrable impact on the bottom line.

As ultimately, HR leaders know better than anyone: people are more than a human resource.

As a result, isn’t it time we said goodbye to ‘Human Resources’ and hello to ‘People’?

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‘HR’ is becoming ‘People’ – here’s 4 ways leaders can get ahead


Have you made the transition from HR to People yet? Just 18 per cent of HR leaders believe their organisation has.

That’s according to insights from over 500 HR leaders in Australia, Europe and North America. Sage polled them to find out how they’re getting ahead in today’s changing world of work – with interesting findings.

Here are some of the more interesting take outs from the our report, ‘The changing face of HR’:

The HR to People transformation is real  94 per cent of HR leaders expect ‘HR to People’ transformation changes over the next three to five years, with 47 per cent expecting these changes to be significant.

The way HR operates is evolving – Over a third of HR leaders have adopted new ways of working, such as flexible working, data-driven decision making, and continuous performance management.

The technology used in HR is changing – Cloud (43 per cent adopted) and mobile (36 per cent adopted) are top priorities for HR and People teams, but 43 per cent are concerned their organisation won’t keep up with changes in technology.

New HR skillsets are required – 86 per cent of respondents believe HR skillsets need to change. Worryingly, fewer than one in three HR leaders rate their competency levels as ‘expert’.

More than a name change

The sense from the sector in the research was unanimous: it’s shifting its focus to people. Just as Personnel changed to HR in the 1980s, it’s now evolving into a People function. Here’s four ways our research showed progressive People leaders can get ahead.

  1. Drive agile ways of working

In HR, agile work means teams can implement changes faster. They can get faster feedback and take remedial action. By continuously re-designing better ways of working, they can see a quicker impact on productivity.

Ultimately, organisations need to be responsive to market shifts and changing customer needs. This requires companies to be flexible, adaptive and agile. Yet, our findings show that less than a third of HR leaders currently operate an agile HR model.

As organisations across the globe move to more agile ways of working – operating as networks and in cross-functional project groups – HR will need to provide the skills and capabilities to design and enable such organisational agility.

  1. Address the HR skills gap

The challenge of plugging the skills gaps within HR has been vastly underestimated. Eighty-six per cent of respondents identified a need to reskill; a global HR skills crunch is almost inevitable.

HR and People leaders feel they are weak in areas such as behavioural sciences, technology, people analytics and communications. This is a concern as these areas were rated by respondents as important in the coming years.

Identify skills gaps in your team now and think about where they could be in the future so your organisation can plan ahead.

As well as upskilling existing HR experts in new people-focused and technological roles, companies have also acknowledged they must diversify, and source skills needed from non-conventional routes.

  1. Get ahead with technology

Technology, such as automation and analytics, enables HR to work smarter, faster and more strategically.

Actionable insights, for example, are vital for effective decision-making. Automation frees up a third of HR teams’ time.

With 43 per cent of HR leaders believing their organisation will not keep up with changes in technology over the next 10 years, there’s still a lot to do.

  1. Make the business case

Worryingly, 53 per cent of HR and People leaders told us they can’t make the business case for change.

Investing in your people is one of the most important business decisions an organisation can make. It’s non-negotiable for the success of your organisation. Building a robust and comprehensive business case is the most powerful tool you can use to get that all important slice of budget.

To do this, align your goals with the company’s overall strategy and demonstrate how change will impact the overall business plan.

Be the face of change 

Many professionals got into HR to change people’s lives for the better, if even just a little bit. Though the challenges ahead in the sector appear vast, so are the rewards.

Thanks to technology like analytics and automation, HR can transition from being process-focused to people-focused. HR and People leaders will then be able to move from the backroom to the boardroom and make a demonstrable impact on the bottom line.

As ultimately, HR leaders know better than anyone: people are more than a human resource.

As a result, isn’t it time we said goodbye to ‘Human Resources’ and hello to ‘People’?

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