from the #Valley

3D HR: down, up and sideways

date: 07 / 02 / 2018 | written by Jochen Bessemans | comments: 0
In this article we share our vision on what HR and the HR roles and responsibilities will evolve into. Its a vision which takes HR into three directions, hence we call it 3D HR.

5 minute read  

Last week I was on the phone with Ilse. She’s been in HR working for one of the well-known global HR service providers for almost her entire career. She has decided to move on and wanted to talk to me about which roads to take, because ‘well, you know quite a bit about what’s happening in HR and where it’s going’. Her words, not mine.

I guess that’s what you get when you’re one of the founders of HR Tech Valley, a non-profit ecosystem bringing together HR Tech and HR to shape the future of HR.

One of the topics on her need to know list was what my vision is on what HR and the HR roles and responsibilities will evolve into. I shared with her the vision that we developed within HR Tech Valley which takes HR into three directions, hence we call it 3D HR.

With this article we want to share that vision with all of you and I would really appreciate any feedback or challenge you wish to share on that vision in the comments.

6 forces…

There is no doubt that HR needs to evolve and moreover needs to do it fast. It’s no longer a matter of choice, it’s a necessity. There is an undercurrent that’s emerging and that’s driven by 5 powerful forces:

  1. As a society we expect tailormade products, services and solutions at the speed and cost of mass production. This type of consumerization is entering HR and is fueled by the war for talent and the heightened importance of self-realization amongst Career Owner, individuals who are taking their careers into their own hands.
  2. This growing emphasis on self-realization is putting pressure on organizational structures, hence the revamped attention for flat structures, Teal organizations, holacracy and the likes.
  3. Technology is offering this new breed (Career Owners) an increasing number of tools that constantly empower them. There is no clearer showcase than the impact of Glassdoor on job seekers, which is only the beginning if you look at other sectors like hospitality, travel and logistics.
  4. Their are indications that HR is losing the trust of these Career Owners and show it by the use of technology, as this TechCrunch article states.
  5. HR Technology has been largely left underdeveloped for 25 years. At best it used to be slow to evolve. Things have sped up in the last 10 years and exponentially over the last three/four years. This new era of HR technology has a high level of maturity and involves all major technology trends from gamification, over Data Analytics to AI.
  6. HR Tech is becoming less and less ‘just about HR’. It’s about people and data. According to our view that’s the primary reason why the likes of Microsoft, Google, Facebook and other recent investors are moving into HR Tech.

These five forces are changing the game plan when it comes to people in organizations. They are imposing an approach that really obliges everyone to upgrade their HR’s game, including HR Service providers and business l leaders.

… driving HR into 3 directions

What is currently ongoing, is the HR profession trying to tackle (part of) these forces by focusing on things like employer branding, recruitment marketing, improving the candidate/employee experiences,… All of these are insufficient, too unilateral and fractional approaches.

On their own these will never suffice. We need to rethink the role of HR into a 3D, a three directional, role.

Go down

HR must support and facilitate the Career Owners, understand their needs and provide the expertise to motivate and allow them to evolve . HR must make sure that the organization lives up to its employer branding. This entwines with the unilateral approach we see most HR departments take, with one difference.

The current approaches almost without exception appear to originate from inside-out thinking: the organizations ideas and views are pushed onto the Career Owner. There’s a need to think both inside-out and outside-in which requires a deep understanding of the Career Owners. Such thinking will advance your organization (see also direction 2) and will install a common ground between the needs of the Career Owner and the organizational needs.

Go up

HR needs to become a trusted advisor to the ceo and the board on the future of the organization. HR must understand its people data, be able to link this to the performance  and the direction the organization needs to move towards. Let’s clarify this with a recruitment example.

Based on insights in the age of the organization’s population, the turnover of people, you need to be able to predict the number of people you need to hire in the future. But that’s merely the first step. Next you’ll need to understand what kind of people and what skills the organization will require to realize the corporate strategy in the future so you can start looking for people with the potential for these and have time to train them.

This requires a new business mindset of HR. HR people must truly understand the financial and performance implications of individuals and groups on the organization. The current lack of this is  one of the main reasons HR rarely holds a key a position in the board or management committee.

Go Sideways

Change is a constant – it has always been, but never before in history did change happen as fast as today. HR in our opinion is expected to be the facilitator, coach and driver of that change.

Not an easy task, as it requires leading the change, providing support to the change makers and at the same time provide the safety needed by the rest of the organization in order to embrace the change. It means HR promotes the change and simultaneously values the way things were done before.

3D HR is more than HR

This 3D HR is quite a different paradigm compared to the current HR framework:

  • it redefines the tasks on which HR currently focuses and which eat up most of HR people’s time. These tasks can and should be automated
  • it involves the use of technology to free up even more time and to support these tasks
  • it requires new skillsets for HR people
  • it disperses HR-related responsibilities throughout the organization and requires people to once again take up those tasks they now dump onto HR
  • it requires bravery, transparency and objectivity which makes HR more ‘kick ass’ than ‘kiss ass’ – wise words an HR manager spoke in the meetup group of HR and HR Tech people I have the honor of hosting.

Save for these aspects of the new paradigm, I’m afraid there is no one-size-fits-all approach. If you expected me to give you the blueprint for implementing 3D HR, I must disappoint you.

Evolving into 3D HR is a change process which HR must conduct in co-operation with all of its stakeholders: Career Owners (in and outside of the organization) and organizational leaders.

It’s a change that must start from a strong desire to become futureproof and truly make a difference. From a desire to co-create the future and added value. From the willingness to leave your comfort zone and improve the way things have always been done. It’s about daring to reinvent HR (and yourself as an HR person) from a unidirectional reactor into a 3D pro-actor.

Are you up to this challenge or do you prefer to sit back and wait for the undercurrent to surface as a tsunami?


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