Magazine article HRMagazine

It's Time to Embolden-Not Blow Up-HR

Magazine article HRMagazine

It's Time to Embolden-Not Blow Up-HR

Article excerpt

Once again, HR is enduring a season of discontent. A recent cover of the Harvard Business Review (HBR) featured a picture of a cartoon bomb next to the words "It's time to blow up HR." And an earlier HBR article by Ram Charan proposed breaking up the human resources function and giving half its responsibilities to the CFO. Articles in The Wall Street Journal have gone a step further, suggesting that some businesses may not need HR at all.

There is some logic behind the latest wave of critiques. According to Deloitte's Global Human Capital Trends 2015 report, which included data from more than 3,300 professionals in 106 countries, HR gives itself a grade of C+ for driving talent solutions, while some business leaders think it deserves a D. And the pressure on the profession seems to be getting worse: A survey of 310 HR leaders published by Human Resource Executive magazine in July 2015 indicates that 31 percent believe their stress level is significantly higher now than it was a year ago.

Common Challenges

So what's really going on? I think there is a fundamental shifttaking place, and we as HR leaders should also transform our attitudes. The employment market, the business environment and the very ethos of work have changed dramatically over the past decade. Let's look at how:

Hiring top talent is tremendously competitive. New research by MRINetwork shows that 90 percent of recruiters think candidates are driving the recruiting process.

Millennials are often in charge. According to Pew research, more than half the workforce is under age 35, yet more than 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 each day-and most continue to work. Many companies are struggling to build leadership skills among young people while simultaneously engaging and aligning older workers with their younger leaders.

Work has become amazingly complex. Data from KPCB, McKinsey and others indicate that typical workers look at their mobile phones more than 100 times a day and spend as much as 40 percent of their workday answering e-mail. According to Deloitte's Global Human Capital Trends 2015 report, more than 70 percent of organizations rated the need to simplify work as an important problem.

All these pressures seem to point to one thing: HR needs to reinvent itself. It's time to get out of the box of developing compliance programs and into the world of making work better. Creativity is key.

I know this sounds simplistic, yet it's anything but easy. How can we improve the work environment, attract top people, accelerate leadership development and make employees more productive? Are these the challenges we learned about in HR training? Not really. And to further complicate matters, the tools and technologies we likely need to address these issues are changing every day.

Take, for example, the topic of employee engagement and retention. Gallup data indicate that only onethird or less of the workforce is highly engaged. Despite this alarming statistic, many of us continue to field only annual engagement surveys that don't fully probe the issue. Meanwhile, many companies that have achieved high engagement levels now conduct weekly pulse surveys of their people, have open tools for feedback and let employees rate their managers online. Radical new ideas? Yes. But they really can work!

Now let's look at performance management. It's clearly under attack, since more than two-thirds of companies are redesigning the process, throwing away forced rankings and, in some cases, eliminating ratings altogether, according to Global Human Capital Trends 2015. …

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