Unboxing the Next Generation of HR: Connected and Value-Focused

By Emmanuel Zvada
THE world of work is changing rapidly and so are employee expectations.

The role of human resources (HR) is no longer one of managing resources, but rather of driving the human resources strategy, connecting employees to the objective, to the achievement and to each other.

The HR function can serve as a catalyst for such transformation by helping to create organizations that are ready for the future.

So what does today’s HR manager look like? Who is the HR leader of tomorrow? And how can organizations nurture the next generation of HR leaders so they can contribute to business success?

Role and evolution of HR

Over the past decade, the responsibilities of an HR manager have grown to include greater complexity in attracting and retaining talent, developing leaders, managing performance and driving a diversity and inclusion.

Various technological developments have increasingly enabled HR teams to focus less on administration, compliance and paperwork, and more on how to add value. It took a pandemic for many business leaders to recognize the true value of HR, far beyond the immediate need to quickly communicate changes, adhere to health and safety protocols, assist sick employees or needing extra support, while dealing with layoffs and absences.

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

Working alongside the rest of the C-suite, HR managers play a crucial role in developing workplace culture and implementing HR strategy – the kind of companies that can keep up with the pace of rapid technological advancements, manage an on-demand economy that demands flexible and remote work options, and retain top talent. To meet these expectations, HRDs must first have the will to change.

Key HR priorities going forward

The scope and complexity of today’s HR leader is only a fraction of what the future holds. Human resource managers constantly analyze social, technological, economic, environmental, political, global and competitive changes in consumer behavior, values ​​and preferences.

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

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

HR is the architect of the employee experience and will need to work with business leaders to continue to find ways to create optimal day-to-day experiences.

Digital skills and technological mastery

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

Leaders must master the use of 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 organized and connected.

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

Collaborative spirit

This mindset is hard to define, but you know it when you see it. Some of the elements that make up this mindset include being open-minded and willing to hear from other team members or experts; willingness to undertake several strategies at the same time and willingness to learn from past relevant experiences.

Organizational leadership must be willing to invest in collaborations through team building or other workplace activities. We must be able to let go of established identities and allow new models of working together to emerge.

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

Strategic thinking and action

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

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

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

They are able to map out an action plan that leads to results, in light of opportunities, obstacles and changes, and ensure that actions are implemented in the right way and at the right time to achieve the desired result.

Innovation and creativity skills required

For companies to keep pace with today’s competitive marketplace, innovation must be an organizational priority – and that kind of culture starts at the top. It’s easy for leaders to get stuck in a rut going about their day-to-day responsibilities because people are creatures of habit, says Bullock: “Innovation is a good way for leaders to change things and to try something new – which sometimes leads to good ideas and better methods”.

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

Agility and resilience

Resilience and agility are two attributes that can help managers and teams redirect their thinking towards a more effective way of managing change. At the rate our world is changing, flexibility remains the best bet for leaders in today’s business scenario.

Digital disruption is on the rise and adaptive leaders appreciate the importance of being applicable in-game and therefore continue to learn.

Leaders must 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 considered the same thing. Although they are similar, they are not exactly the same.

A coach helps someone learn new skills while mentors have a higher purpose for the people they work with.

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

Coaching helps alleviate problems as soon as possible. Mentoring builds loyalty and employees are willing to go the extra mile because they see promotions and greater success in their future.

Data and digital readiness is key

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

To increase productivity and engagement, HR functions must go beyond basic employee data and leverage cloud solutions and advanced technologies to enable streamlined and automated HR processes, such as talent search, 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 building a people-centric organization that aligns with the needs of employees

Well-connected, value-focused HR departments that can meaningfully contribute to improving organizational effectiveness are needed more than ever.

Meanwhile, HR professionals need to develop and update the skills and strategies of their own departments, ensuring that every element is ready to support the business of the future.