Sunday, 1 April 2012

Shaping up for the Future

The HR landscape across the globe has been changing fast, and businesses are looking up to the human resource function to play a more integrated and substantial part in the organisation’s growth story. Business leaders over the last couple of decades have realised that in a globally connected world, where technological advancement more often than not leads to standardisation of products and service, they will have to leverage human capital to create key differentiators and stay ahead of competition. The fact that we see more HR executives in the boardroom than ever before proves the point that more and more business leaders, investors and stakeholder have become aware of the crucial role that HR plays in the organisation. A Wall Street Journal survey of 101 large corporations revealed that nearly two-thirds had either a current or retired HR executive serving on their board. The transformed HR has proven itself to be capable of managing the challenges of today, as is evident from a 2010 HRPA survey, which states that most CEOs are happy with the performance of their HR leadership. CEOs interviewed for the survey felt that the HR leadership was making exceptional contributions in strategic areas, including talent management, succession planning, engagement, recruitment and retention.

We have done commendably in rising to the challenge of today. But is HR prepared for the future? Having successfully delivered as a business partner in meeting the present challenges, the business leadership will expect HR to deliver across domain expertise in the future. Demographic, economic and societal shifts combined with technological advances will change the ways people work and are managed. HR systems and processes will have to adapt to a world with dynamic team sizes, complex multi-geographic projects, independent contractors, virtual collaborations, and a new generation of workers who need flexibility and yet want a challenging work environment. Along with systems and processes we will have to fundamentally restructure the way we think about work and workers. The world is getting smarter and markets are becoming even more competitive. Jobs that once had been imported into the country may soon be exported to countries with lower cost structures. As organisations move up the value chain they will also face the inevitable talent crunch. In the face of an unpredictable future, organisations no longer are looking at ordered and structured responses. The need is to make organisations that are large and stodgy by character into firms that are nimble and fast, or as Louis V. Gerstner puts it, ‘make elephants dance’. Gerstner did make a behemoth in trouble like IBM dance and waltz its way to success, but to do that IBM had to undergo a complete overhaul of its culture and processes. Present-day businesses and HR leaders have the benefit of analysing the practices of Gerstner and other turnaround leaders and are adequately equipped to meet, if not overcome, the challenges of the future.

As always, we have reached across a cross section of CEOs, business leaders, and HR practitioners to bring forth their perspectives on what the CEO wants from his HR leadership, and how HR is shaping up to face the future. We hope you will find the articles informative and impactful. Happy Reading!

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