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Forget HR theory and focus on the business, says Averbook

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HR functions can be too focused on over-arching HR theories and not sufficiently on the needs of the organisations they serve, according to Appirio chief business innovation officer Jason Averbook.

Averbook, the author of HR From Now to Next, told HR magazine some HR professionals can get bogged down in “benchmarking against their peers”, which leads to departments attempting to implement a one-size-fits-all solution for their company’s challenges.

An even bigger problem for HR to resolve is difficulties communicating with the C-suite, according to Averbook.

“The two parties often speak a different language,” he said. “So the C-suite just doesn’t know what HR is capable of because it doesn’t ask. On this issue I’d put the ball in HR’s court because it needs to learn to communicate better and demonstrate its value more effectively.”

Averbook urged companies to get “2020 ready”, or prepare effectively for the workforce of the future.

“This could be HR’s Y2K’” he said. “If you think of how many changes need to be made to prepare organisations for all the challenges that are coming up, you realise just how much still needs to be done. With digital natives increasingly coming into employment who expect to be able to do so much with technology, and remote working becoming more widespread, companies are really going to have to make huge changes to be effective.”

Young employees will start to vote with their feet and shun employers who don’t keep up, he warned. To avoid this, he urged companies to "think different". 

"If there is one thing that organisations are struggling with today it is to get away from status quo and inertia and shift towards a workforce first mentality," he said. "In order to get this, the team designed to drive new initiatives must be made up of 50% workforce, 25% HR function, and 25% IT."