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The Role and Future of HR 
Today’s challenge & tomorrow’s vision 
By Prof Sattar Bawany 
While the term ‘strategic human r...
The Role and Future of HR 
• Assess 
people and 
of the ...
The Role and Future of HR 
medium- and short-term activities. 
HR Challenge # 1: Adapting to a rapidly changing worker 
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The Role and Future of HR in HR Strategy and Planning Excellence_Nov_2014 Issue


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The Role and Future of HR in HR Strategy and Planning Excellence_Nov_2014 Issue

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The Role and Future of HR in HR Strategy and Planning Excellence_Nov_2014 Issue

  1. 1. The Role and Future of HR Today’s challenge & tomorrow’s vision By Prof Sattar Bawany While the term ‘strategic human resource management’ (SHRM) may sound like an oxymoron to some, many companies recognise that effective HRM is key to their competitiveness. It is widely acknowledged and accepted in business that the sources of sustained competitive advantage lie not only in access to finance or capital, but within the organisation, in people and processes capable of delivering business strategies such as customer satisfaction or rapid innovation (Bawany, 2004). HR professionals who have the business acumen to contribute to business strategy at the highest organizational levels are leading the shift in the HR profession from administrators to strategic advisors. Those HR professionals who understand the language of business, who speak in financial terms and who express the value of their work in relation to its impact on the bottom line make HR a compelling component in strategy discussions. A CEO quickly connects with the head of HR who can present an investment and return, rather than an expense view of the function. All too often, human resource (HR) organizations transform themselves in a strategic vacuum, responding to the business’ day-to-day operating needs without a clear view of the big picture. To be effective, HR needs to align its improvement efforts with the company’s business strategy. This requires an HR transfor-mation strategy that is realistic and executable – with accurate plans, schedules, resource requirements and estimated benefits that the company can rely on. HR Role as a Strategic Business Partner Revisited Business strategy charts a course of action designed to achieve an advantageous and sustainable market position (market share, margin/profitability, product or technical leadership, etc.). The strategic management process includes strategic analysis, strategy formulation, and strategy implementation. Great human resource strategies are developed within the context of this ongoing strategic management process. Elements of this integration are shown in Table 1 (Bawany, 2004). TABLE 1: BUSINESS STRATEGY AND HUMAN RESOURCE STRATEGY Strategic anal-ysis: Establish the strategic con-text Strategy for-mulation: Define a plan to achieve an advantageous market posi-tion Strategy im-plementation: Execute the plan Business Strategy • Assess driving forces shaping the future of the industry (tech-nology, com-petitors, mar-kets, customer requirements, etc.) • Determine key success fac-tors • Assess business and organizational capabilities (strengths and weaknesses) • Define strategic issues • Determine future market positioning and competitive ad-vantage • Formu-late mission, vision, values (a shared mindset) • Define the required culture, man-agement phi-losophy, and business prac-tices • Set busi-ness objectives and priorities • Develop action plans (steps, timing, responsibil-ity, resources required, and performance measures) • Allocate resources • Develop required or-ganizational capabilities (structure, sys-tems, processes, talent, etc.) • Manage performance (establish per-formance ex-pectations and accountabil-ity for results, manage perfor-mance, evalu-ate and reward performance) HR Strategy and Planning Excellence presented by | 11.2014 Submit your Articles 13
  2. 2. The Role and Future of HR Human Resource Strategy • Assess people and organizational aspects/impli-cations of the strategic con-text • Assess people-related organizational capabilities (current situa-tion, strengths and weaknesses) • Determine future people and organiza-tional require-ments (pre-ferred future state) • Determine people-related business issues (gaps between current and fu-ture state) • Develop people-related strategies to address these issues (objectives, priorities, ac-tion plans, and measures) • En-able effective change (com-munication, involvement, influence, ini-tiatives, etc.) • Align core people manage-ment processes to enable strat-egy implemen-tation • Align the human re-source function with changing requirements (organization, roles, capabili-ties, systems, practices, etc.) • Establish and implement a business plan for the HR function itself (objectives, re-sources, priori-ties, measures, etc.) Today’s Role of HR and Challenges People and organization issues are related directly to specific strategic business issues and, in turn, derived from forces driving the business and critical business success factors. Table 2 high-lights issues currently being addressed through human resource strategies by leading companies (Bawany, 2008): TABLE 2: HR ROLE IN MANAGING PEOPLE AND OR-GANIZATION ISSUES ATTRACTING, RETAINING, AND DEVELOPING CRITICAL TALENT • Recruiting and selecting scarce talent with critical skills • Developing the required capabilities in the current talent • Building loyalty with less company commitment (e.g., job security) and employee commitment • Providing the necessary “value proposition” for critical talent groups • Providing attention to the “whole person” (e.g., desired work environment, development, work-family bal-ance) • Addressing the needs/interests of multigenerational workforce BUILDING HIGH PERFORMANCE WORK ORGANI-ZATIONS • Building commitment to creating a high performance culture. • Establishing accountability for achieving business results (e.g., balanced scorecard) • Emphasizing the business case that provides a line of sight to business results • Building customer intimacy and an obsession on cus-tomer satisfaction • Communicating the direction the business is taking and what it means to each person • Promoting teamwork and collaboration across organi-zational units and regions • Enabling individuals to update their expertise and skills, be responsible for learning • Accelerating speed/cycles, innovation and creativity • Aligning reward systems with changing priorities (e.g., incentives, profit sharing, stock ownership, team-based compensation) • Building values and principles which will sustain long-term growth of company ALIGNING PEOPLE WITH THE BUSINESS • Involving employees in the business planning process (top down, bottom up iteration) • Building a business mindset, addressing how employ-ees may contribute and building commitment through understanding • Establishing cross-business activities (e.g., cross-func-tional teams, assignments, communications) • Building more effective two-way, personal communi-cations with managers, team leaders, or coaches • Evolving from quality management and re-engineering to balanced change integration focusing on growth, market share, new markets, and customer retention In a published KPMG Research, Rethinking Human Re-sources in a Changing World (KPMG, 2012) there seems to be a continued vast gulf between the perceived importance and the perceived effectiveness of HR today. Whether deserved or not, this stigma is clearly evident in the survey. For example: • 81% of respondents see talent management as a key com-petitive advantage over the coming three years. • Only 15% see HR as able to provide insightful and predic-tive workforce analytics. • Just 17% view HR as able to demonstrate measurable value to the business. With the growing importance of human resources to the success of the business, HR managers and their departments have become more involved in the business. They know the needs of the busi-ness and are helping address those needs. One consequence of this role is an increased involvement in the longer-term, strategic directions of the organization. A second consequence is a new emphasis on long-term activities in addition to the more typical 14 Submit your Articles HR Strategy and Planning Excellence Essentials presented by | 11.2014
  3. 3. The Role and Future of HR medium- and short-term activities. HR Challenge # 1: Adapting to a rapidly changing worker profile - Demographic shifts are creating a diverse, multi-generational workforce An ageing population is very apparent throughout the devel-oped world, raising concerns that the remaining working popula-tion will not be able to bear the strain of increased expenditure on elderly care and pensions. Governments have responded to this reality through im-migration and by raising the pensionable or retirement age. Meanwhile, much of the developing world is confronting a very different demographic challenge, and is seeking to devise the appropriate education systems to prepare an overwhelmingly young population for the workplace. HR Challenge # 2: The world is much more global and in-terdependent In 2013, the developing countries contributed 50 percent of the world’s GDP. This is expected to grow to 55 percent by 2018, a significant increase in business opportunity centering on these newer economies. Trends in leadership, talent acquisition, capability development, analytics, and HR transformation are all impacted by globalization. Companies that learn to leverage global talent markets while localizing their HR strategies will be poised for strong performance. HR Challenge # 3: Technology’s evolving role in redefining work and workforce demand with mobile, social, and cloud computing continue to explode All this technology has transformed the world of recruiting, the world of education and training, the world of analytics, and even the way we work. Today we are online 24/7 and relentlessly flooded with information, messages, and communications. Not only has technology become a critical and pivotal part of human resources, but we have also identified a new human capital issue discussed in this report: the overwhelmed employee. Organiza-tions face an imperative to find ways to absorb more technology while simultaneously making it simple. The Future of HR These changes in the workforce and workplace are significant, disruptive, and here today. How can human capital strategies power companies to thrive in this era of rapid change? The specific recommendations HR could implement to address these organizational challenges in their role as Strategic Business Partner which are summarized below (Deloitte, 2014): • Lead and develop: The need to broaden, deepen, and accelerate leadership development at all levels; build global workforce capabilities; re-energize corporate learning by putting employees in charge; and fix performance management • Attract and engage: The need to develop innovative ways to attract, source, recruit, and access talent; drive passion and engagement in the workforce; use diversity and inclusion as a business strategy; and find ways to help the overwhelmed employee deal with the flood of information and distractions in the workplace • Transform and reinvent: The need to create a global HR platform that is robust and flexible enough to adapt to local needs; reskill HR teams; take advantage of cloud-based HR technology; and implement HR data analytics to achieve business goals. In 2013, the SHRM Foundation launched a new strategic-thought- leadership initiative in collaboration with The Econo-mist Intelligence Unit, to identify and analyze critical trends likely to affect the workplace in the next 5-10 years. The following three critical themes emerged from the Report: 1. Evolution of work and the worker. The globalization of business, changing demographics and changing patterns of mobil-ity will continue to change the nature of work and the worker. 2. Engaging and integrating a global workforce. Cultural integration and clashes/unrest will continue to grow globally, at both societal and corporate levels. 3. Use of talent analytics for competitive advantage. Talent shortages will continue to grow globally, requiring HR to become the provider of human-capital analytics for input to strategic business decision making. Conclusion The Human Resources function currently faces pressing, interconnected challenges. The challenges for HR range from adjusting to the demands of a globalized workforce, through negotiating cost constraints, to taking advantage of new tech-nologies. At the same time, HR’s potential strategic value is under-appreciated. In order to emerge stronger from its current struggles - stronger and better able to add value - executives must recognize and implement three concurrent changes to the HR function as we have discussed earlier. We need to develop the capabilities required to be effective business leaders and human resource leaders. As human resource and business leaders, we strive for superb execution of strategies that will give our business an advantage by matching internal capabilities with external market opportunities far more effec-tively than our competitors. We are obsessed with doing the right things, achieving results, and thereby help achieve targeted business objectives. To become effective in this role, we must create opportunities to lead, find the time to lead, and develop our capabilities to lead. S&P BIBLIOGRAPHY Bawany, S. (2004), HR as a Strategic Business Partner in Today’s New Knowledge Economy, Human Capital (Singapore Human Resources Insti-tute), March - April 2004. Bawany, S. (2008), Strategic HRM: Aligning HR to Business Strategy, Human Capital, August 2008 Issue Deloitte Consulting LLP and Bersin by Deloitte (2014), Global Human Capital Trends 2014: Engaging the 21st-Century Workforce KPMG International (2012), Rethinking Human Resources in a Chang-ing World Mabey, C., Salaman, G. and Storey, J. (eds.) (1998) Strategic Human Resource Management: A Reader The Open University/Sage. Miles, R. E., and Snow, C.C. (1984) ‘Designing strategic human resource systems’. Organizational Dynamics (Summer): 36-52. Purcell, J (1995),”’Corporate Strategy and the Link with Human Resource Management’, in Storey, J (ed) Human Resource Management: A Critical Text (London: Routledge). Wright, P. M., and McMahan, G.C. (1992) ‘Theoretical perspectives for stra-tegic human resource management’. Journal of Management 18: 295-320. Prof Sattar Bawany is the CEO & C-Suite Master Executive Coach of Centre for Executive Education (CEE Global). CEE is a premier network for estab-lished human resource development and consulting firms around the globe which partners with our client to design solutions for leaders at all levels who will navigate the firm through tomorrow’s business challenges. Email Visit HR Strategy and Planning Excellence presented by | 11.2014 Submit your Articles 15