HR must help organisations navigate change

The workplace is transforming fast and who better to shepherd organisations through this than the professionals who understand people?

It seems like everyone has become a futurologist. Predictions around skills and jobs becoming obsolete abound. This is either the worst thing ever or the best thing ever depending on your view of technology as an enabler. In addition employees are demanding more from employers. They want transparency, to be able to drive their career on their own terms, and expect personalised experiences in every aspect of the workplace.

Change and increased expectations aren’t new though. It’s the rate at which they’re happening that instils a sense of urgency. So who is going to help organisations navigate it? HR of course.

But are we ready? While there are many HR functions doing brilliant things to enable their businesses, there are also far too many still knee-deep in spreadsheets, creating business cases for one global system, and processing transactions. The time is ripe for HR functions to re-imagine their world and the role they play.

I think there is no better time to be in the people business. The workplace is transforming fast and who better to shepherd organisations through this than the professionals who understand people?

When it comes to getting future-ready in HR, I think there are three roles we need to play. The first is as digital champions. People expect their work to reflect the same seamless experience they have with technology in their personal lives; where it’s integrated and easy to use. Tech is ever-changing and the possibilities are huge. But companies and HR departments often have to move at a much slower pace and this can be frustrating for employees.

Getting HR professionals thinking about their use of tech, not just to digitise a process but to rethink it entirely, requires a whole new skillset. At FIS we have digitised most of our processes and are now leveraging digital labour with the launch of a bot for our employees as a first point of contact. We are also using technology in functions like talent acquisition, candidate experience, and engagement.

The second role for HR is as data analysts. HR have always been the custodians of data. It’s the mechanism to synthesise it and use it in a meaningful way that has been difficult in the past. At FIS we have invested in cloud-based analytics tool Visier, which is allowing us to use data to inform decision-making and predictive analytics to plan our HR programmes. We’ve had to train our HR teams in analytics to be able to develop the skills needed to drive business insights.

And the third role is as coaches. We are asking people to play a more active role at work as well as to develop their own careers through ongoing learning and development. This requires a change in how employees and organisations plan for work as well as the kind of work they do. Supporting staff through the changes they are experiencing means HR professionals need to become coaches, to guide organisations and themselves through our VUCA world.

We’ve created leadership development courses for our HR professionals to gain an internal qualification in coaching. We have also launched training support to our leaders and employees as part of a faster real-time feedback process.

Underlying all this is the need for HR to deal with change. Everyone’s worried about the pace of change. But ask yourself: do you feel busier than you were last year? And the year before that? We need to understand our reactions to the changes, how we best deal with them, and how we lead in an ever-changing world.

Because the change you are experiencing now is probably the slowest it’s going to ever be. So are you ready?

Isabel Naidoo is head of people strategy and analytics at FIS

This piece appeared in the May 2019 issue. Subscribe today to have all our latest articles delivered right to your desk