HR influence: The next 10 years


What do experts think HR directors need to do to maintain and increase influence over the next decade?

HR Most Influential turned 10 this year, so HR magazine asked some industry experts to reflect on what HR influence will look like in the next decade and beyond. Here's what they said...

“In the next 10 years, I would like to see more HR people on boards and a recognition that this is a strategic role that adds value to investors. HR needs to look outside as well as in: your data is available to the entire world now. You need to be on it before anyone else and understand what any piece of data is going to say to any stakeholder. I would also like to see less infighting about what we’re called and more concentrating on where we are adding value to the business. I’d like to see fewer HR people contemplating their own navels and more going out there transforming businesses.”
Susannah Clements, partner, Ithaca Partners

“HR directors have to look wider than traditional HR. Get inspiration, innovation and ideas from a far wider range of sources. There’s never been a better time to be an innovative, forward-thinking HR leader. Now is the opportunity for HR to be the most influential area of a business. Businesses can only be successful if they have the best people. I also think HR has the opportunity to take over some of the areas traditionally looked after by marketing, to ensure there’s the same messaging inside and outside the business. If HR takes the opportunity they are going to become the communicators rather than the administrators of business.”
Doug Sawers, MD, Ceridian

“HR has to create high performance workplaces, by excelling in talent, performance and change. They have to help drive change into the organisation by analysing the root of problems. HR directors need to do the analysis of organisations before starting the work, and understand that off-the-shelf solutions don’t work. If you have good people, a clear and compelling strategy and a great environment, it’s a winning formula. Going forward, HR has to make a big contribution to innovation, customers, and has to understand more about their own workforces.”
Mike Haffenden, director, CRF

“HR needs to produce and not consume; it needs to be the source of evidence for boards and senior managers. They need to understand the ‘why’ of research by others and also generate their own research. HR leaders need to produce evidence for future policy and strategy. Much HR thinking and expertise is rooted in Western (i.e. capitalist/market) thinking, but HR will have to understand how to work effectively and efficiently in other contexts, like faith-based economies and the ‘post-secular society’ (where individuals have strong moral and ethical beliefs which are not rooted in any religious beliefs). This all means HR professionals need to investigate creative ways to enhance employee performance in different global contexts and address moral, ethical and trust issues. Sustainability will come to dominate organisational thinking and decision-making. This is where HR also needs to engage and lead thinking, not least to rebuild trust, but also to avoid such ‘errors’ in the first place.”
David Wilson, professor of organisation studies, Open University Business School

“In the past decade, there has been a dramatic change in HR in the public sector. It has gone from being transactional to a lot more strategic in approach. That’s had a knock-on effect on the quality of people and breadth of experience that’s needed. Public sector HRDs need business skills. They need to be able to continue to think about how to make savings, be really innovative and create partnerships. Longer term, I would like to see more HRDs moving into CEO roles, and more people take their public sector experience back into the commercial sector.”
Mark Turner, managing partner, Gatenby Sanderson

“Where HR is commercially respected and underpins the business in achieving its long and short-term goals through leadership and talent, the influence is ever increasing. Indeed HRDs are moving into the CEO role. Looking forward, HRDs must know and understand the business from a commercial perspective: its markets, strategic intent, financials, the opportunities and the threats. They must understand not just the culture but also what is in the way of the business achieving its full potential. The ability to assess where interventions will be most impactful is key, and the influence with other leaders to make the difference.”
Sam Allen, founder, Sam Allen Associates