· Features

HR future leader of the month: Sarah Cousins, British Heart Foundation

HR magazine speaks to the future leaders of the industry to discover what makes them tick.

After university I went travelling and decided to apply for HR jobs as soon as I got back. I started in generalist HR at a corporate insurance broker and have become gradually more specialist and project focused, and I still find the generalist grounding useful in everything I do.

I worked in corporate companies for most of my career but always wanted to work in a not for profit. I finally made the leap four years ago and I’ve never looked back. The sense of passion and purpose in a charity makes my work feel meaningful.

As we move back into our offices, we need to ensure we keep the best of our new ways of working and build a new hybrid model that gives people flexibility and choice. Supporting our leaders to lead their teams effectively in these new and changing environments, and supporting our staff to connect and collaborate effectively, are all on the agenda at the moment.

Employee experience will become more important as we continue our work to map out our employee journeys. In HR there is still a lot of potential in this area to deliver a more cohesive, well thought-out employee experience which improves people’s working lives and helps them deliver more effectively in their roles.

The field of people analytics holds a lot of promise and will enable us to become more evidence based in our choices around our HR strategies. Building analytical skills in our HR professionals will be important to help this field to grow.

In the middle of a pandemic it’s hard to predict next week, so it’s a big question to ask what we’ll be working on in 30 years’ time. But I guess it’s safe to assume that we will still be working on the interaction of HR and technology, whatever that looks like at the time.

I’d like to think we won’t still need to work on diversity and reducing discrimination and inequality, and I believe we will have made great progress, but will still need to keep focus on it.

I want to focus on experience because I believe a holistic approach to a worker’s experience will help us to build strong cultures, aligned to values, to help our organisations deliver their purpose. Alongside this, focusing on the design of our organisations will help our people work effectively in their roles.

I also want to ensure that HR base their strategies on evidence and insight, which includes the voice of the employee themselves. I want to keep finding ways to involve people in the evolving of their organisations.

Sarah Cousins is organisational change manager at British Heart Foundation.

This piece appears in the January/February 2021 print issue. Subscribe today to have all our latest articles delivered right to your desk

If you would like to be featured in our future leader column please get in touch