What are the challenges HR faces? How does HR feel about using tech? Are HR people aware of the impact of digitization and the rise of Career Owners on their profession? To answer these questions we have made it our mission to visit a number of European countries and meet as many HR people as possible. Last week we kicked off this ‘roadtrip’ in Prague (Czech Republic) and Bratislava (Slovakia) where we met over 300 HR people during our keynote at the biggest Czech HR event, Thalento® driven workshops and in-company meetings.
We discussed with them what they regarded as their biggest challenges (do the changing demographics, attracting, retaining and developing talent sound familiar to you?). We talked about the rise of Career Owners and why people are increasingly taking control over their careers. We provided insights into the ‘perfect storm’ that is raging in HR Tech since 2014 and generates innovative answers to current and future HR challenges. We will talk about these subjects in later posts.
Are car policies really what HR is about?
During one of the workshops we raised the question ‘what is it you do as HR?’. ‘We provide support, make the contracts, the car policies, discuss these with people’ one of the participating HR ladies replied. ‘So your main focus are administrative tasks?’ we asked. ‘No we are business partners. We support the business!’, she cried out. ‘Ok, but how does what you just said support the business? Is that really what HR is about?’
This little dialogue is so typical of HR nowadays. Since its introduction over a century ago HR people have become so consumed by what has been dumped on HR that they have forgotten what HR is all about. The amount of time HR truly spends on the core business – interacting with people and supporting them – has reached a saddening low.
It is crucial for HR people today to ask themselves what their added value is when they don’t focus enough on their core business. To ask themselves if they as an HR department really have a raison d’être when they spend more time on supporting administrative tasks than on lifting the ‘human resource’ (a term which sends shivers down our spines) of the organization.
Free your mind and stop regulating
Fulfilling their added value potential requires of HR another mindset than the one we see amongst most people in organizations. We humans have four ways in which we react to change such as the ongoing digitization and the rise of Career Owners.
- Reactionary: we blatantly ignore what is happening and stick to the way we have always done things;
- Regulatory: we try to control what’s happening by setting up policies, regulations, prohibitions; get it?!
- Readyness: we jump on the bandwagon of trends and of doing what’s ‘hot’;
- Revolutionary: we don’t just think outside the box, we get rid of the box and set out to create new solutions.
Judging the amount of HR policies (even for things you can’t control, like policies for BYOD or social media usage), it is obvious in which phase most HR departments are stuck, isn’t it.
From this reactionary position, it can be difficult for HR people to rethink what they focus on and how they go about their job. But we are living in a time when technology and individuals are evolving faster than businesses and public policy.
Too often HR limits itself to bringing the last two closer together – a situation created by (or creating – we’ll let you be the judge of that) the regulatory reaction. However to tackle the major HR problems of today such as demographics and talent shortage, it needs to close the gap between businesses and individuals.
This requires HR to free up time and interact with the individuals, the Career Owners. That’s where HR Tech comes in. The new generation of HR Tech solutions are no longer these big legacy software tankers that are costly, take ages to implement and are slow to be adapted to changing situations. Quite the contrary: HR Tech as it has evolved since 2014 has become plug ‘n play, low cost and easy to set-up.
Dear HR friends, be leaders in this digital age
Let HR Tech help you create more time to spend on people in your organization. Figure out where you as people, as Career Owners yourself, can make a difference, where your passion adds the most value to your organization and your colleagues. Experiment with HR Tech to discover where it best enables you to achieve your added value.
Stop asking yourself ‘how will people react if they are helped by an HR bot (an application performing human tasks)’. Ask yourself how this can help you give people the service they need (the ‘ready’ stance) and explore how you with the help of HR Tech can solve the problems lurking at the horizon.
Be the leaders your company needs you to be. Get inspired, rise to the occasion, do what needs to be done. It was our message to the HR people in Prague and Bratislava. It is our message to everyone in HR.
Jochen Bessemans – Community Manager HR Tech Valley
Ben Greeven – co-founder HR Tech Valley