HR is ripe for disruption, but what IS the future?

Everyone’s talking about future workplace. We all know where it’s heading – people-power, social networking, crowdsourcing, limitless connectivity and a workforce that is contingent (self-employed in some form) and virtualized (anytime, anywhere). But what about the HR team - its leadership? In a people-power world, what does it look like?

HR won’t exist in its current guise for very long 
Look at HR. Still knee-deep in paper. Still knee-deep in ops. The promised digitization of the back office is yet to happen and in some instances the very people who need to be pushing that agenda cling on to the current state. Still trying to do more with less.

HR needs to be more business-savvy. It needs to be a strategic partner that fosters the company culture and influences other business units. Needs to be more digital. Needs to be a coach. Needs to be the voice of the people and act on their behalf. Phew, it's exhausting.

Operation ‘HR Disruption’
What could future HR management look like? People rate their experiences with each other, e-Bay style? Represent themselves in performance management processes? Move around choosing projects, not jobs for life? Hello,Generation C (choice).

With the notion of work-life balance being abandoned in favor of work-life integration, I can also see companies taking more responsibility for the welfare of their employees and providing services that encompass many areas of people’s personal and professional lives.

Human capital and personalized HR 
“The conventional definition of management is getting work done through people, but real management is developing people through work.” Agha Hasan Abedi.

Developing individuals requires an individual approach. Could employment arrangements be based on learning styles and personalities? Beyond that, HR folks need access to technology that enables employees to negotiate and manage the value of their human capital, taking into account their achievement and contribution as much as their aspirations and circumstances. That way, employees at all levels can take control of their careers and lives.

Performance can be measured using sophisticated metrics and (big) data which inform employee profiles and create precision around matching skills to projects. After all, most of us associate ourselves with a particular skill-set rather than a particular organization.

At the same time, as data and technology enable us to redefine and personalize the relationships between organizations and employees, it is the human element that should remain HR’s real strength.

Begin today
For starters, ditch the name HR. Can we stop calling people resources? Perhaps, call it People Department, headed by People Lead. Which in the new world becomes a department of coaches and data analysts. In fact, in a truly future model there is no department. There’s a set of experts that can swoop in to help with particular people challenges at any one time.

I’ll have the title of ‘Aspirations and Performance Strategist’, for now. Better update my CV… I mean my LinkedIn profile… I mean my e-Bay style career rating card.

Share your ideas about disrupting HR and help us define a compelling vision of future people management.

Read Isabel Naidoo’s earlier blogs about future workplace:

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