Transformational HR

HR is playing an increasing role in corporate strategy, becoming a discipline focused on transformation not just transactions.

The world looks different today. In just the last five to ten years, the speed, and more impressively, the scale of change is remarkable. Whole industries are being disrupted. To adapt to these changes and remain relevant, organizations need to be more agile, and the cornerstone to agile organizations is people. As we shift from the industrial era into an era of choice, Human Resources is also changing. The role of talent is becoming less about transactions, and more about transformation. Organizations are starting to embrace the transformational role of HR.

Those who are ahead of the curve already recognize people as a key for growth. They compete for talent just like the sales team competes for customers. Once they’ve on-boarded a new team member, they invest in training and development. They look at the whole individual and their growth trajectory, not just his or her work output. This shift has massive implications for HR, team dynamics, and organizational design. In these organizations, HR is starting to have a stronger voice when discussing corporate strategy.

An easy way to think about business strategy is defining “where to play” and “how to win.” This forces organizations to take a look at the team. Who is on the roster? What skills are we lacking? How do develop our players? These are not solely transactional questions like compensation and insurance, but transformational questions regarding company purpose, employee experience, and growth to achieve the strategic goal. As people demand a better work/life balance, companies need to think about nurturing the whole individual. This can often lead to career mapping, flex time programs, and cross-functional education. Not only do people seek new work experiences, but they no longer work in one job for life. Top talent seeks diversity and growth. Transformational HR leaders understand these new dynamics and create strategies that retain and develop talent as critical thinkers and leaders. But HR can’t do it alone.

With all this change, communication channels have multiplied, responses are faster, and people have more choice. Successfully executing an engaging employee experience—from new talent to developing new leaders—requires involvement with many parts of the organization. From marketing and IT to sales and customer service, few companies compete only on a regional level for talent. LinkedIn and other job platforms results in many candidates—rarely does a person apply to only one job. Transformational HR identifies its target audience, what they think, and how they get information. Top talent may require a more inspired approach to get their attention and strong UX experiences to hold it. Digital and physical experiences blend at the user level, so facility managers, IT, and HR must collaborate to create spaces that give talented workers the inspiration to show up and a reason to stay.

People have more agency in this era of choice, but industrial-era mindsets and methods remain. The focus of Human Resources will need to center around transformation, purpose, collaboration, and helping to make the company strategy a reality.