HRO Today Global Spring 2014 - 42

HR Trends
that using evidence-based HR will allow the function to build
their credibility within their organisation by focusing on hard
(i.e. quantifiable) data. While SAP and Oracle have been
trying to do this for years, SaaS has bought the cost down
considerably and more important, made it much easier for
non-technical people to link data sources and run reports.
Unfortunately for those companies who are pushing this
ground-breaking technology, they face two fundamental
barriers that they have to overcome. The first is the almost
pathological aversion that HR has to either the function or
its activities being measured. Whilst this has never held back
marketing (whose activities almost mirror HR except that they
deal with customers and not employees), decades of repeating
the mantra that you cannot measure people behaviour has
made most of HR myopic on this subject. The second barrier
is that for many HR professionals, a lack of data manipulation
skills is almost a badge of honour. Outside of the reward
function, there is a commonly held belief that you cannot be
both a 'people' person and a 'numbers' person.
The key challenge for HR: Shifting ways in order to measure
and quantify activities to demonstrate credibility to the
C-suite.
6. Innovation. Touching the previous challenges but big and
important enough to warrant its own place in the 'top six',
innovation is the final challenge.
The external environment will begin to force organizations
to review the way they approach and treat their employees.
Market facing opportunities will continue to take the
majority of investment funds meaning that HR has to become
more creative and innovative to address these concerns.
However, with the rapid advances in technology, the
constantly changing environment, wider usage, and greater
clarity of social media strengths and weaknesses, the push
by third parties to form true partnerships and the growing
awareness within HR of the need to embrace data in
order to build their own credibility, HR has never been in
a better place to deliver innovative, targeted solutions to
organizational issues.
The key challenge for HR: Reinventing itself to be at the
forefront of the organisation's drive to maximise its return on
its people.
What Does This Mean for HR?
The HR function has undergone significant change over
the last 30 years and has moved from staff welfare to
[42]
HRO TODAY GLOBAL | SPRING 2014
Guy Ellis is a director of Courageous Workplaces and Colin D Smith
is the founder of Dexterity Solutions.
administration to subject-matter experts. Still struggling
with the concept of 'business partnership' and what it means
in practice for all parts of HR, the skills and attitudes of
many HR professionals are still not at a level to meet their
'partnership' promises.
The last few years have been tough for HR professionals who
want to develop their personal skills. Training budgets were
often the first to go and no more so than for HR discretionary
spend. A lack of realistic alternatives have left many HR
directors offering short 'taster' sessions and hoping that HR
professionals can work it out for themselves.
HR finds itself in a difficult dilemma: Knowing that it spends
too much time looking inwards, the function has to put its
concerns about its role and purpose to one side and find
the confidence to start participating at all levels of the
organization.
For HR directors, the significant changes in the coming year
will force them to address deep-rooted issues about the
capabilities of their function. Where they identify gaps, the
lack of mid-market providers and business-focused solutions
will force them to either use costly external consulting firms
or time-consuming in-house solutions. In either case, whilst
we'll not see any visible changes until much later in the year,
the more strategic HR directors will be laying the groundwork
very early on.
For HR managers and stand-alone professionals, the rest of
the year will create a lot of opportunities to get involved
at all levels of the business. Whilst formal programmes will
continue to be light on the ground, the rapidly changing
external environment will create opportunities for them
to get involved in traditionally non-HR related activities:
opening new business lines, understanding consumer/buyer
behaviour, the continued importance of the organisation's
brand (especially employee brand), and driving innovation
to name a few. For HR managers in particular, supporting
their team's professional development need not be expensive
provided they have a clear idea of what they want to achieve.
While HR has not always put its own development first,
with foresight and planning, these challenges can become
wonderful opportunities to demonstrate the true capabilities
of HR and the values that it can deliver.

HRO Today Global Spring 2014

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