by: Caitlin Gibson
For many years, HR and people teams largely focused on compliance, benefits, and other tactical personnel responsibilities. Now, these departments are tasked with all of that and more. In particular, this past year and the changes it brought to the working world have accelerated the HR evolution. That is, companies are now expecting their HR and people teams to serve as a strategic partner and advisor in the organizational development of the business. That means HR teams must be more agile, multi-skilled, and experience-focused than ever before.
The new role of HR has already been shaped by recent digital transformation strategies and advancements in HR technology. In particular, services like intuitive chatbots and comprehensive online platforms now allow HR teams to manage their application, onboarding, and benefits enrollment processes more efficiently than ever. As a result of these changes, HR and people teams are now in a position to focus more on business strategy and key dimensions of the employee experience.
The New Role of HR
Specifically, as part of the HR evolution, HR and people teams will need to take on these four key roles:
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leaders
Now more than ever, companies are looking to their HR teams for guidance on how to address important social issues at work. The development of internal DE&I programs, in particular, has become a key priority. HR and people teams are actively figuring out the best way to implement these programs in ways that are meaningful and action oriented. That includes delivering communications about these priorities and initiatives, understanding how bias and discrimination manifest in the workplace, and ensuring company leaders get involved in this work and make it a company-wide priority for everyone. As part of the HR evolution, this role isn’t just about responding to global events as they happen; it’s about cultivating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization that’s more innovative and profitable as a result.
Employee Experience Drivers
The employee experience is how employees feel about everything they encounter during each stage of the employee journey, from the application process to their last day at the company and beyond. The quality of this experience hinges on the strength of a company’s culture, and cultivating a great company culture keeps employees engaged. Employees who are engaged at work are 59% less likely to look for a job elsewhere and 17% more productive overall. That’s why it’s crucial that the HR evolution see HR teams pivot the conversation about culture; rather than focus on the needs of the company, it should focus entirely on the employee experience. To do this, HR teams will need to ensure prospective and current employees understand and feel connected to the company’s mission, vision, and values. They’ll need to craft a great onboarding experience, support work-life balance, foster professional development, and more. While this is a lot of responsibility, it also comes with a great reward—a motivated, engaged, and loyal workforce.
Organizational Effectiveness Frontrunners
As companies strive to keep pace with the changing environment of the working world, HR and people teams will likely find themselves as the primary resource for organizational development, including career coaching, skill development, and even succession planning and guidance. Given that learning and development opportunities help 80% of employees feel more engaged at work, these services can’t be overlooked. As the HR evolution continues, HR teams will likely end up at the helm of things like mentorship programs, individual development plans, and even feedback and coaching initiatives. To make these initiatives successful, HR teams will need to ensure that the professional development interests of their employees overlap with the company’s organizational development priorities.
In order to succeed in the above duties, HR and people teams must focus on strong communication. Effective internal communications inspire employee investment, create alignment, and reinforce company culture—all things HR teams will need to ensure their work has a meaningful impact on the employee experience. In particular, leveraging data-driven employee communication software like GuideSpark Communicate Cloud® will enable HR and people teams to plan, manage, measure, and scale any initiative—with flawless communication strategy built in. As a result, HR teams will free up the time and resources they need to focus on their many other strategic priorities.
To evolve HR programs in ways that enhance the employee experience and leverage the power of digital transformation, HR teams will need to embrace their new role. As Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leaders, Employee Experience Drivers, Organizational Effectiveness Frontrunners, and Communication Captains, HR teams will become more strategic than ever. This HR evolution will enable HR leaders to make increasingly valuable contributions to their organizations. It will help companies deliver an outstanding employee experience. Ultimately, the new role of HR will help companies achieve their business objectives, live out their core values every day, and keep up with the changing working world—whatever it may bring.