It is no secret that the HR department tends to suffer from a rather grim reputation; despite serving as one of the most vital functions of an organisation. Employees usually know little about what their HR contacts do beyond payroll and contracts, while C-Suite execs tend to leaves them on the sidelines when it comes to important discussion and decision-making.
Many organisations claim that it is their people that make the company. If this is true, then shouldn’t HR be the most important department in the organisation? It is about time we stopped viewing HR as purely administrative and adopt the principle of ‘people enablement’.
At its core, people enablement is a more holistic approach towards individual development, and it encompasses the technology, processes and content empowering employees and teams to develop and improve faster. This is why it is so important today, with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing businesses to adapt to new normal and expectations. Workers will also need to learn new skills and processes faster in order to keep up.
While it’s true that in the past HR may have been primarily administrative, these days the world of work is facing so many changes that it’s best placed to help companies navigate them, ensuring they can retain and attract talent. In todays current environment, it is ever more important for employees to have the ability to regularly update their skills, and in order for HR to successfully adopt this trend, changes need to start at the top. To start with, CEOs themselves need to believe in a people-first approach. This in turn should allow HR to be empowered to make the decisions they need to best support the workforce.
As HR becomes empowered and adopts a more strategic function within the organisation, this should have a trickle-down effect, creating a change of perception among all employees This will enable them to realise that they can rely on HR as a partner to support them in their career development. If allowed to branch out and learn new skills at their own pace, employees will be more engaged and more likely to stay longer with a company, productivity will increase and growth will follow naturally as people will have the intrinsic motivation to bring their best selves to work.
The best synergies can be found when HR is able to focus on putting people first, all while having a strong understanding of the business’s needs. This is why HR badly needs representation in the boardroom. By doing so, they can gain knowledge of a company’s needs, shifting priorities and financial obligations. In turn, HR representatives will have to become comfortable with understanding business priorities and strategic input.
HR and the C-Suite can shape the future of their companies, better preparing themselves for this new reality, all while supporting employees readying to be confronted by the changes. Rather than remaining stuck with practices and models that we have been using since the time of the first industrial revolution, we need to change how we think about employment, career trajectories, talent retention and much more.