How The Role Of Human Resources Is Changing

How The Role Of Human Resources Is Changing

Co-written with Simon Howard of DRYVER.

It seems to be that everywhere we look, there is a new title for a similar role. We’ve seen VP of HR, People and Culture, Happiness, and People. We’ve seen titles that have ‘Ninja’ in them, and organizations that are stripping titles as much as they can. Some organizations are expanding the role of HR faster than others, but one thing seems to be consistent: HR is changing, and the role is only getting more important.

After various hackathons with leaders in the HR space, research on the subject, and experiences we’ve had through the work we are doing at DRYVER, it seems that in many cases, Human Resources is the Hermit Crab that has moved out of its smaller shell an into a much, much bigger one.

Traditionally, the role of HR has, of course, been to look at recruiting, on-boarding, training, benefits, pay, holidays, conflicts, rewards in the workplace, and so on. And while these roles are no less important today, there are often additional responsibilities that many employees in the space have now. In some cases, we would go as far as saying that HR is moving to be included in a larger operations role, while still being focused on people.

Diving in a little further, it became glaringly apparent that employee experience in the workplace is far more important than it was in the past. There is more accessibility to information than we’ve seen before, and as a result, there is more awareness as to where we can be working and why. In many cases, we no longer chase jobs just for the skills to do them, but for the experience at work and the life we are able to live as a result.

And so how does HR play into this evolution of the workplace and how we communicate it?

1.    Organization Design

Having HR be at the table for the creation of the organization design or structure is really important in ensuring that people have the resources available to do their best work possible. We’ve seen many articles and books (a great one being Flat Army by Dan Pontefract) that explain that a traditional structure may not be as effective as it once was.

2.    Purpose

Let’s take an accountant working at a big firm, for an example, and compare it to an accountant working at a golf course, one who works in government, and another who does the books for a restaurant down the street. Though the jobs may be quite similar, how are we articulating the value of the job and the purpose behind it? Purpose is, and will continue to be a great differentiator between companies, especially when skills aren’t.

3.    Employee Experience

Perhaps this isn’t as drastic of an evolution as the others, but as we see overall tenure decreasing the the workplace, and the need for a sense of community and belonging increase, there has to be more of an emphasis if we are to keep our best employees. Work has to be something that is bigger than just a 9-5 that we punch in and out of; it has to be an experience where we build community with people that share similar values, wants needs, and expectations.

And so as we see the workplace evolves, and realize that people are the foundation of any business, the role of HR has to continue to expand. Understanding how we differentiate our companies from our competitors, in many cases, comes to the people and the experience on the job. HR is, of course, at the centre of this.

So as you have likely noticed, a lot of the HR groups we work with really embrace their new roles within the respective organizations. Does this mean that the organization is evolving though? Not necessarily. The people in these roles are very good at what they do, but already have full time jobs. A primary reason people bring organizations like DRYVER in is often to help with implementation. Once created, it is easier for them to take the lead.


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