Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
One of the regular conversations that surrounds human resources departments (and HR pros) is the ability to deliver value. There are countless articles about the need to become more strategic and transformational. I don’t really want to talk about that today. What I want to talk about is being prepared.
McLean & Company, a global research and advisory firm, recently sent me their “Future of HR” report. Yes, it contains some of that “be more strategic and transformational” discussion. But don’t let that deter you from checking out the report because it also had a very interesting point that caught my eye. It talked about how prepared HR departments (and HR professionals) are for the future. For example, the report indicated that HR is very prepared in the areas of:
- Corporate social responsibility
- Diversity, equity, and inclusion
- Employee health and wellbeing
Which is great. These are important topics for employees and the business. They directly impact the organization’s brand. On the flip side, the report said that HR isn’t very prepared in these areas:
- Technology and analytics
- Skill development
- Managing internal talent
I will admit, this was difficult for me to process. Not as much the technology and analytics part because I’m seeing people evaluating their relationships with technology. Or maybe the better way of putting that is people are reevaluating their relationships with technology. I believe everyone realizes that they have to get prepared for new technologies all the time – both in their personal and professional lives. And I believe that people are still trying to figure out the best way of testing and evaluating new technologies. They’re also trying to figure out under what conditions they should quit a technology, like a social media platform.
What I had challenges with was HR appears to be less prepared with skill development and managing internal talent. I’ve always viewed HR as being the architect of work. We help organizations create work that meets the company’s goals and employees want to do. So, HR needs to design interesting, attractive, and productive work. But if HR departments (and HR pros) aren’t well prepared to help their organization with skill development, then how will they create work? And if we’re unable to create work, how will HR help manage internal talent? Definitely something to think about.
The Future of HR report also reminded me of the importance of HR departments evaluating their own function. Yes, HR needs to be a part of strategic planning and operational planning. But in addition to those activities, maybe it makes sense for HR to do their own strategic and operational plan? This is an opportunity to ensure alignment with the organization. Plus it’s an opportunity to use traditional strategic planning tools like a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) and identify where the HR department needs to be more prepared.
Think of HR getting prepared like emergency preparedness. We don’t always know the type of emergency we’ll be dealing with and the same holds true here. The business world is constantly changing. But we can evaluate our situation, acknowledge our strengths, address our challenges, and develop a plan. The more prepared we are, the better we can react to the changing needs of the organization. And the better we can be at delivering value.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the streets of San Diego, CA48