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Is HR Still Relevant In The Digital Age?
A recruiter named Mya, performs all her required job tasks with utmost efficiency and discipline. From searching for resumes on job sites, shortlisting potential candidates, and even holding video and phone interviews, Mya seemingly does the work of two to three employees.
Mya is a bot developed by Mya Solutions, a California-based startup that seeks to streamline and automate recruitment processes.
Over here in Singapore, DBS Bank, the World’s Best Bank – a keen advocate of fintech and perhaps, all things tech, has just created and launched a HR system that measures almost 600 individual employee data points like absenteeism rates, salary increases and rate of promotion through a complex algorithm.
So as to predict employee resignation before he or she actually quits.
With a slew of HR functions that have been automated or are in the process of being automated, it does beg the question of whether a Human Resource department or professional is needed in the not-so-far future.
Truthfully, we are not dissing HR professionals or sounding the death knell for the HR role. But the writing is indeed on the wall for any HR professional and team to re-think its function so as to remain relevant in an exponentially changing corporate environment.
So what new roles can HR play?
Here are some recommendations:
1) Be A Tech Facilitator, Not An Administrator
First of all, organisations must see the value that the HR function brings to them – one that identifies, recruits, engages and develops talent. Sadly, many business leaders have often viewed HR as a cost centre with no tangible results to show for their work.
To change this entrenched perspective, we would suggest that HR folks adopt technology as rapidly as their marketing or sales counterparts but remind their naysayers that HR tech solutions can be recommended, integrated and facilitated by a committed and competent HR team.
New HR tech roles can be created, such as a HR Data Scientist who is dedicated to be the facilitator between the organisation’s wealth of employee data and the business stakeholders and who analyses and influence business decisions via people intelligence; or a Digital HR Business Partner who works side-by-side a business unit and makes HR recommendations that are more “tech-driven” than “human-related”. For instance, this business partner can devise tech solutions to re-engineer existing jobs to avoid retrenchments in a volatile economy.
In essence, the HR role cannot be that administrative order-taker anymore, but one that provides tremendous value through the facilitation of tech with people.
2) Be A People Skill Advocate And Enabler
In the 2018 Workplace Learning Report, as published by Linkedin, it was reported that training for soft skills is the Number One priority for businesses. From talent developers to people managers and executives, leadership, communication and collaboration skills outweigh the importance of role specific ones.
This report echoes the oft-used findings of Google’s Project Aristotle, which discovered that a team’s practice of “soft skills” is a more accurate predictor of its success than its professional competencies.
Hence, for HR, emphasis should be given to the development of empathy, mindfulness, leadership etc. amongst employees. As organisations become more digital, let us not forget how the human being can increase his/her societal value by becoming an entity that machines cannot replace. Though we are inevitably moving towards a high-tech future, the high touch element must still be encouraged.
Who better to advocate and enable this than HR?
3) Be A Culture Builder
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” said Jack Welch, the eminent, former CEO of General Electric. Perhaps, it also does so for lunch and dinner as well.
Airbnb apparently took culture so seriously that they spent 5 months interviewing their first employee before they hired someone, and in their first year, they only hired two people.
As the gig economy rises in numbers due primarily to digitisation and the ubiquity of the internet, HR recruitment professionals must realise that labour competition has evolved into one that involves not only other organisations, but the seduction of a flexible, freelance working option.
Thus, compounded by the reality of recruitment automation, HR professionals may have to shift part of their focus to culture-building.
From Salesforce to DHL, the list of companies with almost irresistible cultures is fairly well-known. But HR will have to play an even more important role in differentiating their organisations through positive workplace cultures in order to attract, engage and keep talent.
The effectiveness of core values exhibition may have to be measured, flexi-work arrangements would have to be perpetuated, and cognitive diversity will have to be celebrated.
HR must have a big part to play here.
No doubt, the digital economy is here to stay.
Though it’s anyone’s guess how the eventual Industry 4.0 would turn out, HR must be one of the frontrunners and effect change before change renders the HR role irrelevant.
Article by Andy Pan, Director (Client Solutions) at Right Impact and the author of Happy Companies, Healthy Profits.