Other parts of this series:
- In a Digital Workforce, People Come First
- Accelerating Pace of Technological Change Challenges Financial Services HR
- Misunderstood Millennials: Keystone of Workforce Strategy
- Finding the Real Skills Needed for a Digital Work Environment
- Deeper Knowledge of Individual Employees is Key to Digital Workforce
- HR and IT – Forging a Stronger Alliance
- The Digital Evolution of the HR Function
- Setting Priorities for Digital Workforce Transformation
In my last blog, I talked about HR’s need to form stronger bonds with IT to build and sustain a digital workforce. While this is taking place, digital is radically disrupting HR in other ways, leading to a redefinition of the entire human resource function.
What’s happening is that HR and talent management are becoming central elements in the future of work – too central, in fact, to be left to specialists working in their own domain. Equipped with digital tools, line managers and even employees themselves are taking on many aspects of what used to be confined exclusively to HR. This extends to talent processes like workforce planning, with managers using data to determine gaps between workforce projections and available supply of staff, and modeling different scenarios that could be used to close any gaps.
At the same time that line managers and others are absorbing traditional HR functions, HR practitioners are moving into new areas with powerful influence over the direction of the business. For example, analytics are providing HR with the ability to move from historical analysis (understanding what has happened) to predictive analysis (forecasting what is going to happen). When HR knows what is going to happen, it can help the business identify and attract the kind of people who are needed for long-term success.
However, HR can’t sit back and let others steer the boat. HR practitioners will need to develop stronger analytics skills, and they will also need a more in-depth knowledge of the way the business works so that they can integrate HR data with other data and make useful recommendations. This may lead to the rise of new roles and groups within HR, such as HR Digital Officers, HR Data Officers, HR Innovation Officers.
To prepare for the blurring of lines between HR and other business functions, leaders should be asking questions such as:
- What (if any) analytics skills do HR managers now have? Is training needed and, if so, what kind of training?
- Are there current HR processes that could or should be pushed out to line managers?
- How much does the HR team really know about the institution and the way it creates value? Would learning more about the business help HR do its job better?
In the eighth and final blog of this series, I will recap some of the key issues we have covered and talk about how HR can take its new message to the board and top management.