THE world of work is changing fast and so too are employee expectations.

The role of human resources (HR) is no longer about managing resources anymore, but rather about driving people strategy, connecting employees to purpose, to accomplishment and to each other.

The HR function can serve as the catalyst for such a transformation by helping to create future-ready organisations.

So, what does today’s HR leader look like? Who is the HR leader of the future? And how can organisations nurture the new generation of HR leaders so they can help drive business success?

HR’s role and evolvement

The last ten years have seen an HR leader’s responsibilities grow to include greater complexity in attracting and retaining talent, developing leaders, managing performance and driving diversity and inclusion strategy.

Various developments in technology have increasingly allowed HR teams to focus less on administration, compliance and paper shuffling, and more on how to add value. It took a pandemic for many business leaders to recognise the true value of HR, far beyond the immediate need to quickly communicate changes, uphold health and safety protocols, assist employees who were sick or needing extra support, all while navigating layoffs and absences.

HR teams continue to design many of the experiences that employees need to excel both personally and professionally, they are focusing all the more on building diverse and inclusive workplaces, while finding ways to prevent burnout, keep people connected, and inspire great work.

Working alongside the rest of the C-suite, HR leaders play a crucial role in developing workplace culture and implementing people strategy — the kind of businesses that can keep pace with rapid technology advancements, manage a gig economy that demands flexible and remote work options, and retain the best talent. To meet these expectations, HR departments must first be willing to transform themselves.

Key HR priorities in the future

The scope and complexity of today’s HR leader is only a fraction of what the future holds. HR leaders are constantly scanning social, technological, economic, environment, political, global and competitive shifts in consumer behaviour, values and preferences.

HR needs to be data-driven and be able to look for signals and understand their significance, and what it means for the future of their business.

Whatever the future holds, it will have far-reaching consequences for the future of HR departments across industries and countries, and for the environment people work in.

HR is the architect of the employee experience and will have to work with business leaders to continue to find ways to create peak everyday experiences.

Digital skills and technological proficiency

As the world is changing at a rapid pace, technology has taken over everything.

Leaders must be proficient in using digital tools to maintain and thrive in their work: Collaborative calendars, virtual note-taking tools, email management and the many cloud-based tools that can help leaders stay organised, and connected.

Digital proficiency is important because it means that workers can engage with new and emerging technology, software, mobile applications and other tools. They can do this in a way that is productive for individuals, their employers and customers.

Collaborative mindset

This mindset is hard to define, but you know it when you see it. Some of the components that make up this mindset include having an open mind, and willingness to hear from other team members or experts; willingness to entertain multiple strategies at the same time, and willingness to learn from past relevant experiences.

Organisational leadership must be willing to invest in collaborations through team building or other workplace activities. We need the ability to let go of established identities and allow for the emergence of new patterns of working together.

Collaboration builds trust, meaning the better you know each person, the more effectively you can work with them or lead them.

Strategic thinking and acting

In today’s business environment, someone who can think and act strategically proves that they are committed to their company’s operations and goals. Strategic thinkers tackle problems efficiently and creatively and are not threatened by challenges.

Companies today must remain nimble and responsive to change, which is why strategic thinkers are among the most highly effective leaders.

Strategic thinkers take a long-range approach to problem-solving and decision making.

They are able to plot a course of action that leads to results, in light of opportunities, obstacles and change, and ensuring actions are implemented in the right way and at the right time to achieve the desired outcome.

Innovation and creativity skills needed

For businesses to keep pace with today’s competitive market place, innovation needs to be an organisational priority — and this type of culture starts at the top. It is easy for leaders to get stuck in a rut performing their everyday responsibilities because people are creatures of habit, Bullock says: “Innovation is a good way for leaders to change things up and try something new — which sometimes leads to great ideas and better methods”.

Leaders need to create an environment in which people feel free and safe to try something new.

Agility and resilience

Resilience and agility are two attributes that can help managers and teams shift their thinking to a more effective way of dealing with change. At the pace at which our world is changing, flexibility remains the best bet for leaders in the current business scenario.

Digital disruption has been on the rise and adaptive leaders appreciate the importance of being applicable in the game and, therefore, continue to keep learning.

Leaders should have an agile mind and agility is defined as the ability to think and understand quickly.

Pursuing agility without investing in resilience is risky because it creates unsupported exposure to surprises and shocks.

Coaching/mentoring skills

Coaching and mentoring are often thought of as the same thing. While they are similar, they are not exactly the same.

A coach helps someone to learn new skills whereas mentors have a higher goal for people they are working with.

As a leader, there are benefits to being a coach in the workplace as well. You build a better relationship with employees, and those employees are more likely to buy into the company vision and work harder to succeed.

Coaching helps to mitigate problems sooner rather than later. Mentoring builds loyalty and employees willing to go the extra mile because they see promotions and bigger success in their future.

Data and digital readiness is essential

HR must tap the potential of disruptive technologies and leverage advanced data analytics to make people decisions and enhance overall employee management.

To drive higher productivity and engagement, HR functions must look beyond basic employee data and leverage cloud solutions and cutting-edge technology to enable streamlined and automated HR processes, such as talent sourcing, compensation management, and other operations.

A data-driven HR function that can make objective decisions, predict workforce trends, and flag areas of concern critical to creating a people-first organisation that aligns with employee needs

Well-connected, value-centered HR departments that can meaningfully contribute to enhancing organisational effectiveness are needed now more than ever.

Meanwhile, HR professionals must expand and refresh the skills and strategies of their own departments, ensuring that each element is ready to support the business of the future.

Source Newsday