Employing people

HR’s transforming to People: 4 ways HR leaders can get ahead

Just 18% of HR leaders believe their organization has shifted from HR to People. Here’s four ways to get ahead in your HR to People journey.

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Have you made the transition from HR to People yet? Just 18% of HR leaders believe their organization has.

That’s according to insights from 500 HR leaders. We polled them to find out how they’re getting ahead in today’s changing world of work – with revealing findings.

Research findings

Our new research report, ‘The changing face of HR’, revealed:

The HR to People transformation is real

94% of HR leaders expect ‘HR to People’ transformation changes over the next three to five years, with 47% expecting these changes to be significant.

The way HR operates is evolving

Over a third of HR leaders have adopted new ways of working, such as flexible working, data-driven decision making, and continuous performance management.

Technology used in HR is changing

Cloud (43% adopted) and mobile (36% adopted) are top priorities for HR and People teams, but 43% are concerned their organization won’t keep up with changes in technology.

New HR skillsets are required

86% of respondents believe HR skillsets need to change – with, worryingly, fewer than one in three HR leaders rating their competency levels as experts today.

HR is transforming to People

The sense from the sector in the research was unanimous: it’s shifting its focus to people. Just as Personnel changed to HR in the 1980s, it’s now evolving into a People function.

Here’s four ways our research revealed progressive People leaders can get ahead.

1. Drive agile ways of working

Agile ways of working in HR means teams can implement changes faster. They can get quicker feedback and take remedial action. By continuously re-designing better ways of working in this way, they can see a quicker impact on productivity.

Ultimately, organizations need to be responsive to market shifts and changing customer needs. This requires companies to be flexible, adaptive and agile.

Yet, our findings show that less than a third of HR leaders currently operate an agile HR model today.

As organizations globally move to more agile ways of working, operating as networks and in cross-functional project groups, HR will need to provide the skills and capabilities to design and enable such organizational agility.

2. Address the HR skills gap

We found that, while recognized, the challenge of plugging the skills gaps within HR has been vastly underestimated. With 86% noting a need to reskill, a global HR skills crunch is almost inevitable.

HR and People leaders feel they are weak in areas such as behavioral sciences, technology, People analytics, and communications. This is despite these areas being rated by respondents as important in the coming years.

Identify skills gaps in your team now, and where they could be in the future for your organization to get ahead.

As well as upskilling existing HR experts in new People-focused and technological roles, companies have also acknowledged they must diversify, and source skills needed from non-conventional routes.

3. Get ahead with technology

Technology, such as automation and analytics, enables HR to work smarter, faster and more strategically.

Actionable insights, for example, are vital for effective decision-making. Automation frees up a third of HR teams’ time.

With 43% of HR leaders believing their organization will not keep up with changes in technology over the next 10 years, however, there’s still a lot to do.

4. Make the business case

Worryingly, 53% of HR and People leaders told us that they can’t make the business case for change.

Investing in your people is one of the most important business decisions an organization can make. It’s non-negotiable for the success of your organization, and, building a robust and comprehensive business case is the most powerful tool you can use to get that all important slice of budget.

To do it, align your goals with the company’s overall strategy, and demonstrate how change will impact the overall business plan.

Be the face of change

Many of us got into HR to change people’s lives for the better, if even a little bit. Though the challenges ahead in the sector appear vast, so too are the rewards.

Thanks to technology like analytics and automation, HR can transition from being process-focused to people-focused, as HR and People leaders move from the backroom to the boardroom, and make a demonstrable impact on the bottom line.

As ultimately, HR leaders know more than anyone: your people are more than human resource.

As a result, isn’t it time we said goodbye to ‘Human Resources’ and hello to ‘People’?

Download Sage People’s brand-new research report, ‘The changing face of HR’, today.