What do you think when you think of HR?
Administrative? Transactional? Boring?
Yep, the traditional human resources department hasn’t got the best rep. And for good reason – it’s where the business dots the i’s and crosses the t’s, where policies and processes are fine-tuned. It’s not exactly thrilling stuff.

2015_OCT_ALL_PEOPLE - The Future of HR is...

There’s been talk about the end of HR for over a decade now. That proves we’ve all known one thing for a long time – HR needs to change. And now, with rapid advances in technology and automation, it has to. It’s time to trade in the paperwork and rigid processes. The new HR needs to build itself on strategy, creativity and agility. And it needs to put the human into human resources – at last.

Let’s pay our dues and move on

In a world where technology lets us work wherever and whenever and engage and collaborate in new ways, the transactional systems of the past are floundering. Not that they didn’t play their part. Administrative systems like ERP, payroll and first generation HRIS, with their hard-coded rules and processes, paved the way for the incredible economic expansion of the last sixty years. Without their hardiness and reliability, we’d be looking at a slower, smaller and much more chaotic business landscape.

But times are changing. These days, businesses need more. Gone are the days when there was competitive advantage in capturing and reporting on information. The rapidly changing world of today is calling out for faster, more dynamic processes that foster creativity, communication and collaboration.

Today, the word on the street is agility. Adaptability. Businesses need to be ready to seize opportunities as they arise and their systems need to not just keep up, but actually help them to do it. They need to work intuitively and be programmed strategically, hardwired to work towards the organisation’s goals.

So what does that look like?

Taking cues from social

Perhaps the biggest driver of this shift is the rise of social media. Increasingly intuitive and usable, it’s become indispensable to our lives outside of work. Suddenly, clunky old systems don’t cut it for employees expecting the same usability and seamless design at work.

Next gen systems will be designed with the social networks in mind. Communication, collaboration and sharing won’t be inbuilt parts of the system – they will be the system. Filterable activity streams will deliver information and knowledge in real time with notifications, alerts and reminders for users to save and add to. And with strong visuals and elements of game design incorporated from the get-go, staff will navigate a system that recognises and rewards them.

We can look forward, in short, to smarter, super intuitive systems powered by pattern-based processing. Transactional systems have served us well, and with a bit of an overhaul, they’ll sync seamlessly with the new systems. For businesses, that means the opportunity to identify and capitalise on emerging opportunities sooner. For users, unprecedented levels of engagement. The new systems will be able to sense context, purpose and even sentiment – and use it all to empower their users to make the best decisions at the right times.

That’s a lot to look forward to. And it’s not far away at all.

The HR renaissance

In this new landscape, you won’t think of HR in the same way. You won’t be able to.

It’s kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy. To add value to a business, HR will need to recognise the value of its workforce. That staff are unique individuals with fresh ideas who drive the company forward and need to be nurtured. HR will be on the lookout for employees’ welfare and quality of life – because employees give an organisation its edge. (Hell, employees keep an organisation afloat.)

And what do employees need? There’s the obvious (like a salary) and the not so obvious – work-life balance, engagement and cultural fit. The regular pay cheque, no longer just a welcome addition to their bank balance, now comes with tools to make the most of it.

The new HR is about HR with benefits. And it needs platforms to foster creative collaboration (and give businesses a competitive advantage). Platforms staff and HR love to use, and can’t do without.

We’re on the cusp of change at the moment. It’s time to stop talking and do.

Ari Kopoulos Employment Hero