Future of Work

5 new roles for the modern HR department


HR department should be given new roles

Patrick Willer
Writer, SAP Community Network
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There’s no good reason why HR departments should look like they did 20 years ago, but most of them still follow the same thinking. Technology has changed the world — and businesses — profoundly over the last two decades, and it continues to do so.

I’ve seen HR organizations, structures and services remain more or less the same over this time, but we can’t solve today’s problems using yesterday’s thinking. It’s time to make a change and add new roles to HR.

Here are five ways to bring your HR department firmly into the 21st Century. And I’ve ranked them in order of importance.

1. Social Collaboration Manager
It’s the core responsibility of HR is to engage the workforce to execute the company’s vision, mission and strategy. That makes social collaboration critical because it:

  • Involves all lines of business
  • Breaks down department barriers, as well as hierarchies
  • Brings people together

It’s time for HR to take ownership of Social Collaboration. Appoint a social collaboration manager who can make social collaboration work in your organization. If HR is not responsible for social collaboration, who is?



2. Data Analyst

Either your organization has a lot of people data that a data analyst can mine and use, or it doesn’t. If it does, let technology do the work for you. If it doesn’t, you have a whole different challenge: Get a first class HR system, and start mining interesting data about your workforce.

Stop creating reports. Start analyzing the data and act on your findings. There are zillions good advisors, blogs and companies out there that can help with that.

3. Performance Management Expert

You wouldn’t believe how many large organizations have somebody responsible for Talent Management, but not for Performance Management. Nurturing talent and channeling it to great performance should go hand-in-hand.

Some argue that the business is responsible for managing performance. And they’re right.

But you cannot expect the business to be 100 percent self-sufficient to follow the latest and the greatest in the field of Performance Management, such as:

  • What are modern tools and ways of thinking about Performance Management?
  • How can you best align your company’s goals to the entire workforce?
  • How do you make performance management more continuous (instead of once a year)?

That kind of guidance can best be given by Performance Management expert responsible for supporting the business.

4. Total Workforce Expert

I rarely see HR being responsible for managing contractors (people who are not on the payroll). And yet, the number of contingent workers is rising and rising. This is a contradiction, and it puzzles me.

HR is responsible for aligning, engaging and connecting the entire workforce. A lot of companies could benefit from a professional connecting the dots between contractors and employees towards Total Workforce Management.

How about we call them Total Workforce Experts? Let’s collaborate on a better name. Suggestions?

5. Succession Manager or Strategic Workforce Planner

Many organizations lose valuable experience when employees leave. It pays to develop a radar for continuity. A proactive, open and social succession strategy prevents ad hoc search for replacement.

It increases the employee satisfaction. It increases internal mobility. And it costs almost nothing.

I would label this Succession Management, but I sometimes also see the term Strategic Workforce Planner. I don’t care about the name. But I do think this expertise has added value for any organization.

Human intellect in business is more important than ever. Organizations that fill these five roles will positively impact the effectiveness and engagement of their workforces. That will positively impact their ability to innovate, as well as their competitive advantage in the marketplace.

And that will impact revenue.

This article is published in collaboration with The SAP Community Network. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.

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Author: Patrick Willer is a writer at The SAP Community Network.

Image: A candidate answers questions during a  job interview. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir. 

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