As businesses bend over backwards looking for new and innovative ways to attract, retain and engage talent, HR professionals who modernise their roles have an opportunity to become indispensable to their organisation.
Gihan Perera – futurist, author and keynote speaker at this year’s AHRI National Convention and Exhibition – outlines the essential skills HR professionals need to stay relevant in today’s workforce, and offers a few simple tips for a long-term career.
Three major factors have caused a seismic shift in the HR landscape in recent years: digital disruption, transformational change, and increasing globalisation and business competition.
Thanks to advancing technology streamlining various payroll, recruitment and training processes, there is now a stronger focus on building ‘employer brands’, attracting, developing and retaining talent, and mobility and succession planning.
HR departments are also increasingly investing in strategies and online tools to promote engagement and facilitate creativity, communication and innovation, particularly where employees are taking advantage of flexible or remote-working opportunities. Wearable tech has also been identified as an important development in improving future service delivery.
What this means for HR
For the HR department, the big change has been going from “managing employees” to “managing talent”, says Perera, and that means catering to high expectations.
“Talented people want jobs that give them meaning, not just money,” Perera explains. “They care more about their careers than ever before, and they want their employer to care more about their careers. They see HR professionals as a vital intermediary between them and their employer.”
The good news is that while advancing technology and artificial intelligence have made some of the industry’s traditional functions obsolete, this role redesign is an opportunity for HR professionals to cement a central position in the modern workforce.
“A smart HR professional becomes indispensable to the organisation by being a talent manager rather than just somebody who manages compliance and regulation,” Perera says. “That makes you valuable, because the future is very much about people, not just technology.”
One area of talent management you might want to focus on is professional development – a Mercer study found most employees don’t think their organisations do enough to keep their skills relevant.
Tips for staying one step ahead
According to Perera, there are three practical ways HR professionals can futureproof their careers:
Engage a reverse mentor
While in traditional mentoring you are mentored by more experienced people, reverse mentoring means getting mentored by junior people.
With 70 per cent of organisations recognising the importance of building diverse talent pools, your company’s newest recruits will be able to offer a fresh outside perspective to help you stay ahead of the curve, particularly if they’re from different generations, industries or cultural backgrounds.
“Your experience used to be one of your most valuable assets,” Perera says. “In the future, the skills we value more than longevity and experience will be flexibility, critical thinking and taking different perspectives.”
Think like a business owner
Imagine you are the owner of your organisation, then ask yourself: Do I have the best people right now? How can I get – and retain – the best people?
“Sometimes that means changing some of the standards, policies, procedures and systems,” Perera says. “It might even mean breaking the rules and championing the cause of your people who want to break the rules.”
Don’t be afraid to shake things up if that’s what’s needed. As Perera warns: “HR professionals who do things the way they’ve always done them will find their role is no longer required.”
Be a lifelong learner
“Every HR professional should be doing online training,” Perera says. “Not only as part of their own development, but because it helps them understand how training is changing”
So despite the digital disruption, the changing function of HR, increasing globalisation and business competition, HR professionals who remain flexible, constantly up-skill and remain open to change will stay relevant and even indispensable in constantly changing workplaces.
About Gihan Perera
Gihan Perera will be a keynote speaker at the AHRI National Convention and Exhibition 2018, Australia’s flagship event for HR professionals and business leaders.
He is a futurist, experienced conference speaker, author and consultant who specialises in giving clients a glimpse at what lies ahead, and how they can become fit for the future in both their professional and personal lives.
Since 1997, he has worked with business leaders, thought leaders, entrepreneurs and other change agents, helping them with their strategy for thriving in a fast-changing world.
Forbes magazine rated him the #5 social media influencer in the world in his area of expertise.