A limitless HR Frontier?

I love the HR job family, it just keeps growing and pushing out the frontier. If there was a prize for which function enjoys the most “scope creep” then it belongs to HR. 

The HR job family, with its generalist and specialist roles, is always morphing and growing to keep up with the demands of modern, agile business.

However, with this rapid evolution, arrives unrest. The continual debates rage about what HR’s purpose is and where time (and money) should be spent. 

We recruiters of HR Professionals see the whole landscape in full. The push out towards the frontier of technology and the pull to people.

There is clearly a push to measure. To gather data, to harness the power of metrics, to enable better more robust and more timely business decisions as well as the rise of analytics and the shared services hub.

Betterworks CEO Doug Dennerline highlights the new level of data competency in 2019 when he says, “the raw data pulled from analytics can be used to create actionable insights and ultimately support data-driven decisions around promotions or compensation, development and success planning, and agile cross-functional team staffing”. 

This honest pursuit is being enabled by big data facilitators such as SAP and IBM, who tell us that this is the way forward. 

What we see at the other end of the spectrum is the pull on the heartstrings. The pullback to people facing HR, to business partnering, to advice, the human touch.

Some of the most exciting and recent developments in HR concepts has been ‘EVP’. Possibly what we should now call EVP 2.0, also commonly known as employee experience (EX). The concept where employee experience should mirror the way we treat  our  customers is a revolutionary way of thinking that is impacting the HR space as McKinsey notes. 
, “A growing number of organisations suddenly are into the employee experience. They’re discarding the stiff, outdated term human resources and many have even replaced chief human resources officer with chief employee experience officer”.  

Mckinsey goes on to define EX as follows, “We define EX as companies and their people working together to create personalized, authentic experiences that ignite passion and tap into a purpose to strengthen individual, team, and company performance”. 

Is that a worthwhile pursuit? Is that where HR should invest headcount and resources?

I think the answer is ........it depends.

It depends on what the organisation prioritises. If it’s all about the metrics and data-driven decision making,with a focus on headcount, utilisation and a close dissection of payroll costs, then we know analytics is where your investment is going. 

If you have a workforce that is hard to train, expensive to maintain and where good people are in short supply, then the pull towards a human-centric way of working will be strong. Your competitive advantage in the war on talent will come from delivering a leading employee experience.
And if you are really lucky and you have the support and the budget ....it’s both. 

There is no doubt the frontiers of HR will continue to expand. From innovation in HR systems that support the HR profession, whilst at the same time the enduring belief in human-centric HR will promote the value by delivering a great employee experience.


David Owens 
Managing Director | HR Partners - A Randstad Company 


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