In her article, “The New Roles of the Human Resources Professional,” Susan M. Heathfield stated:
Traditionally, the role of the Human Resource (HR) professional in many organizations has been to serve as the systematizing, policing arm of executive management. Their role was more closely aligned with personnel and administration functions that were viewed by the organization as paperwork.
When you consider that the initial HR function, in many companies, comes out of the administration or finance department because of hiring employees, paying employees, and dealing with benefits were the organization’s first HR needs, this is not surprising.
Today’s HR professionals face roles that are evolving at a breakneck pace. To demonstrate value to executive leadership, HR must align with forward thinking practices that adapt to the changing needs of their organization and contribute to company profitability. They must connect with and support employee needs. And they must do this while contending with the changing roles in their own careers.
HR career paths are shifting away from personnel-and-paperwork-administration roles to those of strategic partner, employee advocate, and change mentor.
As a strategic partner, HR professionals contribute to the development and accomplishment of organization-wide business plan and objectives. HR staff members have to think like business people, know finance and accounting, and be responsible for cost reductions and the measurement of all HR programs and processes.
As an employee advocate, HR fosters effective methods of goal setting, communication and empowerment through responsibility. HR helps establish the organizational culture and climate in which employees have the ability, desire, and commitment to serve customers well. The HR manager provides overall talent management strategies, employee development opportunities, employee assistance programs, gain sharing and profit-sharing strategies, organization development interventions, due process approaches to employee complaints and problem-solving, and regularly scheduled communication opportunities.
Crucial change management skills include knowledge about and the ability to successfully execute change strategies. Being able to link change to the strategic needs of the organization minimizes employee dissatisfaction and resistance to change.
Several societal megatrends currently exert influence on HR roles. These trends contribute to the changing HR career path.
What Are Societal Megatrends?
Megatrends differ from trends. They are large social, economic, political, environmental, or technological changes. Once in place, megatrends influence a wide range of activities, processes and perceptions, both in government and in society, possibly for decades. They are the underlying forces that drive trends. Here’s an example of the relationship between megatrends and trends:
Megatrend: Aging population
Trends: Workforce gaps when Baby Boomers retire, buying habits, elder care, and health care
Top Three Societal Megatrends
One of the top three societal megatrends that face HR professionals is closely related to the aging population: diverse generations in the workforce. Soon there will be five generations in the workforce: Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Generation 2020. HR pros will need skills in facilitating communication, encouraging teamwork, and conflict resolution to unite the differing work values and styles between the generations now working side by side.
Another megatrend is the increasingly borderless workforce. HR pros will need to meet the challenges of employees, both full-time and contingent, who work across businesses and boundaries. Challenges include resource management – building on-going relationships with resources, onboarding and workforce training for non-traditional workers, and risk management to thoroughly vet resources.
The third top megatrend is driven partially by the borderless workforce and younger workers’ technology habits: technology challenges, especially changes in IT security and access. Issues include protecting intellectual property and proprietary company information, protecting confidential employee information, and secure access from multiple sources, especially mobile devices and social media. Security from hacking and cyber-crime concerns will continue to grow and transform with workforce and technology changes.
Are You Ready?
Do you think you’re prepared to move up the HR career ladder? Every step requires a shift in responsibilities and focus. You’ll need to adjust your thinking, behaviors, relationships both old and new, and modify your perspective. As if learning new management and technical skills isn’t enough, you’ll also have to maintain relationships and develop new ones at each new crossroad of your career.
We all have traits that we use at work. Some are good, energizing us and helping us succeed. We usually like using those traits and seek out opportunities to do so. Then there are traits that we’re not as comfortable with. Maybe we haven’t developed them yet. We generally avoid situations where we would use them. We may need to work on making sure we develop traits to avoid imbalances that could negatively affect the way we work and how others view us.
For example, two opposing communication traits are being Frank and being Diplomatic. Being Frank could make you seem to be to the point and decisive, which can be good. However, you may also be seen as someone who is a bully, very controlling, and doesn’t listen to others. That’s not what you want! So then you may think being Diplomatic is the way to be a really good communicator. There are some good aspects in being Diplomatic. You can be seen as someone who listens and is compassionate. However, if you rank extremely high in the Diplomatic trait, you could be seen as someone who is wishy-washy, can’t make decisions, and is too much of a people pleaser. The reality is we need both Frank and Diplomatic traits in order to strike a balance so we can effectively do our jobs.
If you’re curious about what other traits you may need to balance so you can meet the challenges of your HR career, make plans to attend the SHRM Atlanta SOAHR conference. I will be co-presenting with Mike Mattingly, Sr. VP of HR at Marlin Leasing. Our topic is Upping Your HR Game: Leadership Paradoxes to Growth Your Strengths. Click here to learn more.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, to learn how to find out which traits you have and which ones you need to develop to have a successful HR career.