HR Insights and News

22nd December 2020

The Great HR Divide

Written by Caleb Baker

Human Resources (HR) is making its way to the boardroom table and bringing with it, the focus on human capital measurement as the key driver for the future of work and prosperity of employees and companies. However, within the HR function, not everyone acknowledges HR’s role as a leader in driving organisational transformation and total talent solutions. For some, HR is seen as a service provider.

How people and organisations perceive the role of HR is significant. Will HR be recognised as an agent of positive change to usher in the future of work or a pencil pusher?

HR as a Service Provider

There is absolutely nothing wrong with supporting organisations through employee management, wellness, employee engagement, corporate compliance, recruitment, training and payroll administration, and more. In fact, these activities are and will remain critical to organisations for many reasons, including human capital optimisation and establishing business agility.

However, the issue is that HR is often sidelined as backbenchers. HR leaders positioning their function as a champion of organisational development often invite scrutiny from executives and shareholders. This is rooted in the perception of HR as a secondary function. Due to the lack of support from executives, this belief then becomes reality resulting in HR struggling to transform itself.

It is imperative that HR realises its full potential and be recognised for its business acumen in driving organisations forward. Why keep HR on the sidelines when unleashing human potential is key to what every organisation needs to succeed?

HR as a Leader

HR goes beyond administrative, recruitment and payroll tasks as a leader.

In establishing organisational goals, strengthening business models and evaluating risks, HR’s voice as a leader is pivotal to positioning employees at the centre of every important business decision.

HR has been on its way to securing a higher stature in the business community even before the Covid-19 pandemic. In recent years, HR has introduced new ideas of human capital reporting and ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) strategies, AI (Artificial Intelligence) in talent acquisition, and more to unlock stronger organisational and employee value.

Human capital reporting and ESG strategies enable organisations to allocate capital and investments to sustainable and more viable opportunities like leadership and mentorship programs, diversity and inclusion recruitment, and green initiatives. HR technology utilising AI, when used correctly in talent acquisition, improves the speed of hire and overcomes bias without sacrificing quality. Human capital reporting, ESG strategies and AI in talent acquisition are also important for employee attraction and retention.

Throughout the decade, we’ve seen the importance of the HR function grow exponentially and with it, expectations and demands from business leaders and co-workers. The ordeals of 2020 launched human resources into the centre of the storm and HR leaders have risen to the occasion to partner and lead the workforce to recovery.

Preparing for a Workforce to be Reckoned With

Employees are stepping up too. They are expecting and demanding more from employers and organisations. Employees and candidates are now focused on how business leaders reinvent the workplace to position it for a better future of work. They want their voices to be heard, their questions answered, and their demands acted upon.

Experts refer to this emerging concept as ‘the enlightened workforce’ or ‘the enlightened workplace.’ Employees, customers, suppliers and even communities are looking for empathy, transparency, accountability, responsible governance, a stronger sense of community, and a greater purpose from organisations, executives and shareholders.

HR’s role as a leader is critical to achieving the expectations of the enlightened workforce. HR must lead and not just guide if the workforce is to be reckoned with.

Onwards as Leaders

To do that, organisations must first address the great HR divide. To be clear, the great HR divide is not an internal battle or disagreement. It is not a ‘with us or against us’ situation. This is about HR professionals taking on a role bigger than themselves to put people before the almighty dollar. It is also about organisations acknowledging that employees are indeed their biggest and greatest assets and empowering the right experts to keep human capital management the focus of every boardroom discussion.

To my fellow HR colleagues, how do you envision your role and impact on the future of work? For more insights on the biggest HR topics today including ESG and human capital reporting, follow Will on LinkedIn for latest updates.

Written by Caleb Baker

Caleb Baker (Cal) joined Will in Oct 2019 as Managing Director - Strategic Growth, Technology and Talent Solutions. Cal leads the growth agenda focussing on the design of Will’s products and services strategy across the group. Caleb is passionate about building group wide capability to deliver progressive talent solutions through innovative service designs and the adoption of leading HR technology.

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