What would companies look like if HR no longer existed?

Probably nothing would happen for the time being. To put it provocatively, it would probably not be noticed for a month. At least until the first wage payments are not made because the payroll does not work. But let’s hypothetically assume that the payroll is outsourced and continues to run without us. What happens then? How long would it take for the business to realize, “Something is missing?” A month? Or a whole year?

The good news is: we HR professionals are not redundant and will not become so anytime soon.

Our work as personnel managers is and remains important! We

  • ensure that employees can be hired, paid and retire or go to another company.
  • as HR managers also ensure the development and necessary knowledge growth of the workforce.
  • insist on maintaining the right balance between professional and private life (the famous overtime and vacation list with the red numbers) and keep an eye on the fact that employees can go to work healthy and vital in the long term.

We will continue to provide all our HR services today and tomorrow, albeit in a different form. Payroll will largely be fully automated, data will provide information on who will apply for a job at another company tomorrow and what knowledge will be needed in the company tomorrow. There will be new organizational forms that will make classic HR business partner models obsolete (in some cases they already exist). This may give reason to worry about losing what has been tried and tested.

But it gives me courage to start into a positive future.

A future in which we can act rather than react thanks to data-driven evaluations, as HRForecast already makes possible today. A future in which we no longer have to worry about booking rooms and making appointments, because programs will take care of that for us thanks to artificial intelligence. And that’s exactly how we can gain time to focus on the really relevant issues: What is driving my employees? How can we make a relevant contribution to a positive working world? A future in which we work together in interdisciplinary teams and don’t have to take hierarchies into account. In which everyone can stay in their comfort zone and leave it because they experience the necessary security and support.

So there are many reasons for us to be courageous as we move into the future, which we as HR professionals are helping to shape. To do this, we must have the courage to try things out, to fail, to learn. We should think outside the box and simply try things out and move forward courageously. Whether at a Meet-Up or BarCamp (e.g.: HR talks – bring your own topic on 05.03.2020) at trade fairs, conferences or in the Corporate Learning Community and the personal WOL Circle – all events create a space of inspiration and exchange for us to courageously create a better working world for everyone.

HR is rarely heard by top management. No reason to bury your head in the sand

We HR experts often have a hard time getting top management to listen to us. We often need a thick skin, boxing gloves and facts, facts, facts. What encourages me is that in the future we will have much more data and figures to place our often “soft topics”. If I can only say: “I think there is something wrong and we should do something in the two departments”, then it sounds like “cuddle course” and “would have liked”.

If I can prove to the boss that 50 employees are going to apply to leave in the next two months and that would mean that we would have to close three departments, but they currently generate 20% of sales, then that sounds like a serious problem.

This data enables a different basis and we HR professionals can enter the discussion courageously, point out clear consequences and discuss possible solution spaces. As HR professionals, we would do well to develop our assertiveness. A recommended read for more assertiveness and courage is the book by Alexander Verweyen: “Courage pays off: 12 tests of courage for business”. Read it, it’s worth it.

New tasks in HR: What’s ahead of us?

In the “War for Talents” and in an applicant market where the former power relations (company in control, applicant the grateful supplicant) no longer apply, HR is given a new task: selling. Suddenly, we HR people have to sell the company. As an interesting employer, as an important development station for the applicant. Employer branding and active sourcing are the new magic words in recruiting.

Personnel development must adapt more quickly to learning needs and focus more on the learner. Standard offers attract no one, an entire learning culture should be implemented, the learning offers should become more and more flexible, learning should be integrated into the daily work routine. As personnel developers, we are challenged to use new tools and learning apps to create a learning experience that is convincing.

We do not know what the future will look like. But if we want it to be shaped positively in our interests, we can only succeed if we have the courage. The courage to go new ways. The courage to try things out and fail. Courage to celebrate successes and share them with others, so that the best solution spreads and others also benefit from it. Have the courage to always want to do it a little bit better. Then true works of art will emerge!

Who, if not HR, will take people with them in the digital transformation?

Yes, it’s true: Everyone is talking about the digital transformation and the “digital revolution” and it is probably already in full swing, even if no one can hear it anymore. Existing structures are suddenly being called into question, and new solutions are being propagated.

A discourse is taking place in many places, and more and more are raising their voices that change should serve people first and foremost. Many developments envisage new business models or call for new ways of working together. The task for us human resources managers is to be part of it. To bring in ideas, to try them out.

Does the envisioned digital solution add value for everyone or just for individuals? How quickly can the transition take place without leaving our employees behind? Some of the current solutions and discussions indicate that they do not serve everyone and only benefit a few. As a result, the cohesion of society decreases rather than increases. In short: that many people will not benefit and that we are facing major social upheavals. This is precisely why we as human resources managers should demand better solutions, develop them ourselves and try them out. We can only do this if we move forward courageously and do not leave the field to those who are only looking for their own advantage.

Historically, HR has always looked at both the individual and the company as a whole. Maybe sometimes more on the side of the company, then again on the side of the workforce. As HR professionals, we have always looked at both sides of the coin, and that is now our key advantage when it comes to renegotiating the world of work and making it fit for the future for both sides.

Reason enough for us to be brave.