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Shrinking HR departments could help profession focus on strengths

Technology may make HR departments smaller, but it will bring people professions back to what they're good at.

Speaking on a panel at the Unleash World HR conference in Paris, Catalina Schveninger, chief people and social impact officer at DataCamp, argued the development of HR technology is transforming the profession for the better.

She said: "HR departments may shrink in the future, but hopefully they will have more of a focus on unlocking human potential. We’ll go back to a deep rooted psychological background and organisational behaviour and spend a lot of time helping people unlock their potential, instead of spending time doing headcount reports and whatnot.

"In the future I hope that my role will be partially made redundant so I can focus on helping people thrive and understanding how to use their skills."

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She said: "Data skills are a basic requirement," she said. "It's 2022, if you don’t have data skills then we have a problem. Where data and tech is going, we have great tools to help us with matching roles, workforce planning and organisational design.

"Hopefully we will have more time to focus on what we’re really good at."

Research from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo), conducted in 2022, found HR jobs were on track to rise 13.5% compared to 2021, with internal recruiters making up more than a third (35%) of HR vacancies this year.

Shannon Pritchett, head of marketing and community at HireEZ, said that HR should have a focus on developing soft skills for people in the field.

She said: "Being empathetic is often lacked in organisations and I look at HR to guide that. That’s a longevity skillset that hopefully never gets replaced. I want to see more empathy, understanding, guidance and being that advocate."

Schveninger added HR leaders need to show bravery when performing their role.

She said: "Our main role is being put in front of senior leaders, telling them which behaviour is and isn’t acceptable. It takes courage and resilience.

"Every HR practitioner knows that after a few years you need a kind of therapy because you’re constantly juggling two heads – when am I the people and talent advocate and when am I the business person. Many times we’ve failed to show that courage."