In 2016 a Harvard Business Review study concluded that organisations need to compete for talent in the same way companies compete for customers. While powerful in essence, the sentiment is too simplistic.
It is not merely about competing for the best employees as a one-time recruitment-orientated activity, but rather creating positive employee sentiment and competing for employee ingenuity and loyalty.
Organisation agility and long-term competitive advantage are now dependent on a company’s ability to harness innovation and the creativity of its people.
Great HR leaders have always been the catalysts for change. But as we enter a period of unprecedented turbulence, hyper-competitiveness and disruption, not only is the role of the catalyst important, it may be the last line of defence in the battleground aptly named ‘evolve or die’.
As Josh Bersin, CEO and founder of Josh Berson by Deloitte, recently wrote: ‘people strategies can transform your company from the inside-out’.
Indeed, more than transform, they can save an organisation. As author Michael Watkins wrote: ‘Culture is the organisation’s immune system.’
In a recent whitepaper called HR on The Offensive, LACE Partners articulated the future skillsets required for the function.
In essence, part of HR’s role is to promote its services and the value it can provide to the business. While this hasn’t substantially changed over the years, its importance is entering a pivotal era.
HR strategy that resides in the secretive world of the executive board or HR leaders’ executive table will no longer do. HR must promote the HR value proposition to ensure the talent and culture story is shared and understood.
Delivering a marketing mindset helps the function create organisational alignment.
When you understand a product and why it was created and what problem it is trying to solve your engagement and passion for the product changes.
Employees do not want a brand that conveys great things about the customer experience yet ignores the importance of the employee experience.
This convergence in skillset and mindset is not new. Authors such as Ram Charan have long articulated the need for HR to ‘learn the business, learn the business, learn the business’.
These are the skills that HR professionals now need within the context of the evolving function.
Convergence of skillsets carries an element of uncertainty for many around professional membership to the more traditional corporate roles.
However, such convergence creates leaders that operate in the most rounded way to lead their organisations through this period of turbulence and disruption.
The future of HR is not scary, it is compelling. Traditional HR processes are threatened and organisations have an opportunity to re-examine these to derive future-looking outcomes and innovation.
Talent and leadership strategies in particular are key drivers for growth. However, it may be time to reinvent the outcomes.
So it is time for HR to go on the offensive; redesign the best HR/talent solutions and products; and make sure your leaders, your employees and everyone associated with your brand love them as much as you do.
Jig Ramji is global head, leadership and talent development at Bloomberg
This piece appeared in the January 2020 print issue. Subscribe today to have all our latest articles delivered right to your desk