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What Skills do HR professionals need to support Business Transformation?

Source | | Caroline Styr

This year, our view of employees – whether that’s direct reports, colleagues or our leaders – has changed. We see each other more holistically – not just as workers, but as parents, carers and support systems. The organisations who reacted to the pandemic with empathy, patience and support were favoured most highly because they appreciate that each person has a unique set of personal challenges that have to be respected.

This moment provides the organisation with an opportunity to shift away from viewing human capital in terms of black and white headcount and cost and instead take a more holistic, more human approach to understanding the workforce.  

“Just as energy sustainability requires shifting from resources that are extracted, used and exhausted to renewable ones, an enterprise cultivates a sustainable workforce by shifting its view of employees from a resource to be tapped as needed to one that is cared for, protected and nourished.”

Amy Wright, co-author of ‘Accelerating the Journey to HR 3.0’, IBM, 2020 

To achieve this new, more human, understanding of the workforce requires excellence in people analytics and employee experience – two key areas that will help organisations understand people more deeply, and at scale, and translate that understanding into better, more personalised experiences for the employee.

In their latest report, ‘Accelerating the Journey to HR 3.0,’ IBM describe this new era of people management as ‘HR 3.0’. According to their research, only 10% of HR executives are operating in HR 3.0 today. We spoke with Amy Wright, co-author of the paper, to understand more about how to upskill HR for the future of work.

IBM, Accelerating the Journey to HR 3.0, 2020

One of the main barriers to entering HR 3.0 is the skillset within HR itself. In fact, the need to upskill HR is so pressing that talent executives plan to double their efforts in the next two years to skill their HR teams in new capabilities, according to the IBM research. Organisations classed as ‘outperformers’ – those who are outpacing all others in profitability, revenue growth and innovation – are actively investing to upskill HR teams at a significantly higher rate than all other organisations.

IBM, Accelerating the Journey to HR 3.0, 2020

We’re going to explore the main capabilities that HR needs to cultivate in order to reach HR 3.0:

  1. Business acumen: HR must learn to be change champions, managing relationships and driving adoption across the business. 

  2. Agile and design-thinking: these skills are critical for HR to deliver user-centric end-to-end employee experiences at scale.

  3. AI and analytics: when HR becomes data-driven, the function drives greater business value. 

Business Acumen

HR is shifting away from being perceived as an operationally minded function to a strategic partner with a seat at the table next to the CEO, helping them to solve critical business challenges through the workforce.

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