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HR future leader of the month: Rakhee Patel

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HR magazine speaks to the future leaders of the function on what they think will shape it

What are your main concerns in HR today?

The pace of change within HR is a big concern. We all need to be able to keep up. Data analytics, for example, is rising in importance, but do people understand its purpose? Are we all up-to-date with how and what we use it for?

Many people say their people are the most important part of their business, but we need to see those words turned into action to show how HR affects the bottom line.

What will become more important for HR over the next five years?

People see HR as a central department, but we should look at filtering some of that power to the floor managers. The traditional hierarchy is changing towards a more networked organisation, so we should see team leaders allowed to take more responsibility into their own hands.

HR might downsize as we see more of our operational activities outsourced. HR will survive, and we might even take on more staff in the form of those who can analyse and make predictions for positive change based on our analytics. So while we may not be spending as much time on admin tasks we will become more specialised and strategic.

What subjects will HR still be tackling when you retire?

I think that 40 years into the future even things like our commutes will not look the same. Managing a dispersed, networked workforce will become the new normal, and we will want to have our employees at their most productive (even if they are located halfway around the world). We will need to adopt different ways of thinking, including viewing all of our staff as individuals and understanding what they each want.

What do you plan to do to change HR for the better?

I hope to be spending a lot of time working closely with our marketing team, as they are the people that know exactly how to target micro-segments. When we are looking at recruiting we can learn a lot from them. HR might have control over the employer brand, but we don’t have the budget to do what marketing does.

I want to be brave enough to make mistakes and take risks. There are some areas where mistakes are not acceptable – mistakes in payroll are a big no! But in terms of strategy we should be brave enough to challenge the norm.

The importance of HR is only going to keep getting bigger, but we need to consider if the HR manager will have time in their day to do all of these things.

Rakhee Patel is people and talent lead at The Dorchester Collection