HR Roles – Fast Forward

By | Editor

Over the past three decades, Human Resources (HR) has undergone a significant transformation, adapting to changing workplace dynamics and technological advancements.

In 1995, Dave Ulrich introduced the groundbreaking Ulrich model of HR, which transformed the way organizations structured their HR departments. It delineated four key HR functions:

  • Strategic Business Partner,
  • Change Agent,
  • Employee Champion, and
  • Administrative Expert.  Over the years, HR has seen remarkable changes, primarily due to the digital transformation reshaping our world. However, as we fast forward to 2023, it’s evident that HR’s role has transformed significantly in response to the digital revolution and shifting business paradigms. How have these HR roles transformed?

A Shift Towards Customer-Centricity:

One of the most notable shifts in HR’s role today is the recognition that HR is not just here to serve the business or employees but primarily to serve the customers. As Dave Ulrich says “HR is not about HR“, this necessitates an ‘outside-in’ approach, where HR’s focus is on aligning its efforts with customer needs to ensure business success.

  1. From HRBP to Customer Advocate: In 2023, HR’s role has transformed into that of a Customer Advocate. HR is dedicated to serving customer needs through its most valuable asset—Human Capability, as defined by Dave Ulrich. HR’s primary mission is to empower both the business and employees to effectively meet customer demands and thrive in the competitive marketplace.
  2. From Change Agent to Navigating the Paradox: The modern world of business is characterized by constant change and numerous paradoxes. HR professionals are tasked with navigating these paradoxes, making critical decisions that balance conflicting priorities. Some of the key paradoxes HR faces include:
  • Serving Business & Employees vs Customers
  • Command & Control vs. Care, Compassion & Empowerment
  • Flexibility vs. Conformity (Work from anywhere vs. Work from Office)
  • Flat Structure vs. Hierarchy
  • Centralized vs. Decentralized
  • Employee Experience vs. Customer Experience
  • Agile vs. Fixed

HR’s role in managing these paradoxes is crucial for organizational success. 

  1. From Employee Champion to Unclutter the Noise: Digital transformation has led to an explosion of information and feedback from employees through various channels, including social media, internal communication platforms, engagement surveys, and feedback sessions. HR is now tasked with uncluttering this data and transforming it into meaningful insights. HR professionals must decipher what employees are saying, understand their needs and concerns, and take action to address them. This shift requires a more data-driven and employee-centric approach to decision-making.
  2. Administrative Expert to Process Optimization: Technology has become a powerful enabler in HR operations. HR must leverage technology to optimize various HR processes, minimise costs and deliver a superior stakeholder experience. From recruitment to onboarding, performance management to payroll, HR can streamline operations, reduce administrative burdens, and focus on more strategic initiatives. This transformation enhances efficiency and allows HR to contribute more effectively to the organization’s goals and deliver a seamless superior stakeholder experience.

HR continues to evolve, emphasizing employee well-being, mental health support, and adapting to hybrid work models. It needs to reinvent itself to remain relevant and add substantial value to businesses and their stakeholders. Technology, such as AI and automation, has become integral to HR processes, enhancing efficiency and employee experiences.  

As we move further into the digital era, the emphasis on customer-centricity, navigating paradoxes, uncluttering data noise, and process optimization will define the new roles and functions of HR professionals in 2023 and beyond. The Ulrich Model has adapted to these changing dynamics, positioning HR at the forefront of driving business success through customer-focused practices and strategic excellence.

Republished with permission and originally published at Ramesh Ranjan’s LinkedIn

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