HR functions across all sectors needed to rapidly pivot in uncharted ways in response to COVID-19. However, as challenging as the immediate impacts were, organisations have the opportunity to use this experience to consider how they can operate with more efficiency, accuracy and flexibility in the new reality.
Our future ways of working will demand new skills from all of us – including the HR function. To embed these new ways of operating, organisations will need to identify what capabilities they have across their operations, and what capabilities they will need to take the business forward in world that will require more organisational agility. To assist with this, the HR function needs to consider:
COVID-19 taught us that knowing how you can change the shape of your organisation, understanding the capabilities you do and don’t have and being able to flex the number of contingent versus permanent employees, is critical to agility.
Workforce shaping is taking a scenario-based approach to defining the required workforce, with the understanding of how digital disruption and artificial intelligence will change how work is done and with a focus on optimising the customer experience. In our The Future of HR: 2020, we noted that HR will effectively cease to exist if it does not modernise its approach to planning for the future needs of the workforce as businesses automate more. Traditional HR planning cycles are no longer sufficient to fully respond to future workforce challenges.
In the new reality HR needs to have the agility to:
HR needs to action and improve the use of advanced analytics to assess critical demand pathways and channels. This improved capability will help the HR function to redesign its operating model and ensure the right services are brought in to enhance the functional HR service offering. In an environment shaped by crisis and reactivity, organisational information (whether available through disparate systems or a core HCM system) can help to foster rapid management decision making and agility in making changes. To achieve the transformation needed for HR functions, organisations must seek to integrate and optimise their information solutions to build more effective value for the organisation and accelerate enhanced digital adoption.
There are three short term focus areas that HR should prioritise if it is to deliver value for the organisations and build a sustainable competitive advantage.
While the focus is on providing a consumer grade experience for employees, who owns the experience and what role does HR play in bringing it all together?
As organisations support these new ways of working, HR’s remit must also seek to focus on the employee experience – it is essential to keep workers connected, engaged and productive. Organisations must consider all three channels of the employee experience (environmental, digital & tools, and socio-cultural) and determine what actions and tactics they must take now to ensure a new norm is successful.
Many parts of a ‘consumer-grade’ employee experience is delivered by different divisions of an organisation, including facilities, IT and the business unit, but as the custodian of the employee experience, HR’s leadership skills and overarching vision of the design is paramount to a successful experience, and ultimately a competitive advantage.
HR can help ensure the employee experience is connected across the organisation, maintained and sustained by building on three core capabilities.
Transforming the HR function to enable rapid responsiveness in the short term and reposition itself as an agile, valued contributor to the organisation is critical if HR is to be regarded as more than just order takers of recruiting and paying employees
Changes in employee requirements and the forced shift to agile ways of working will ensure HR has a compelling reason to uplift capability and focus on the things that matter.