What should HR be?

What should HR be? 3

One of the most interesting concepts that I’ve been able to capture at UNLEASH18 in Amsterdam this week, relates to the constant discussion about the role of HR.

In a presentation held by Bersin by Deloitte, a new concept has been presented that I can relate a lot to. The idea of Ambient HR.

Imagine that HR is the electrical wiring in the walls. It’s essential, and the product of thoughtful design & craft. But when we need light to do work, we don’t waste time wondering about the wiring in the walls.

Definitely an interesting concept. That puts into question the current assumption of HR as “Business Partner”, challenging the idea that it should have “a special seat” at the table, one of the long-time discussions that marked HR practitioners calls for the last few years.

The idea is that HR is vital (like electricity in our modern era), but it should not be treated as a “special” guest or as an addition to normal business processes. Way to often the tendency is to consider HR (and its processes) as “additional” workloads, instead of as part of the invisible wiring that drives energy to the business.

The typical example is Performance Management. If good management is about managing performance every day, why do we need to have a distinct process asked by HR?

What should HR be? 4
Fig.1: Employee Experience is the real source of HR Value

There could be many other examples, however what interests me most is how do we transform HR to become an invisible entity vs the current status of a pervasive bureaucracy?

Part of the answer lies into technology. AI and Machine Learning will enable a lot more “content” to be picked and analyzed from standard business processes, eliminating the need of duplicated HR ones. But thinking that this is just a technical issue is severely wrong.

A big part of the game is changing the perspective of what HR should be doing today. The next big challenge is to be able to really own the Employee Experience across all corporate functions, and based on that add value to the business, thinking in terms of experience first.

A challenge for many, still tangled into choosing their next Performance Management solution…

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Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

  1. […] development (together with Lean and Agile). As HR professionals we often seem to worry about how to apply new principles to the rest of the organisation, but how would this be applied to our […]

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