AKINYEMI: HR of the future will do and be more for the workforce

Friday November 8 2019

HR practitioners must become data analysts.

HR practitioners must become data analysts. Today, research must be at the core of every function in an organisation. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

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As we continue our conversation about the organisation of the future we must appreciate the role of the Human Resource function. HR is to the organisation what the goalkeeper is to football.

No organisation can go down if HR are alert and fulfilling the role as demanded by the age in which we live.

HR beliefs and practices of the past cannot be used to take organisations into the future. The employee of today cannot be led with the practices of yesterday.

Only HR officers that can read the future will be relevant in it. It is not about intelligence or deep pockets. It is not about power. People rejoiced when Robert Mugabe came in and they rejoiced when he was ousted.

Powerful companies like Enron collapsed and many like them do so every year. All their influence and power and money could not save them from the murderous arms of irrelevance.

Relevance is a function of researching people and trends to be able to understand the future. Research and a deeper understanding of people and trends are going to be crucial going forward if the HR function is going to remain relevant.


Paradigm shift

Where was the HR function when Barrings Bank which was established in 1762 was brought down in 1995 by 28-year-old Nick Leeson who was a rookie but was given a prime position over a whole region.

By the time all was said and done, the bank had lost over a billion dollars and just like that, an institution which celebrated royals among its clients went down. Where were the goalkeepers?

If HR did not know something was wrong at the bank, then can you imagine what the future will look like.

1995 was not as technologically developed as today and so if in 1995 the goalkeepers were defeated, imagine the potential for disaster that companies face today.
Studies have revealed a direct correlation between research and winning the future. We are getting to a place where research must be at the core of every function in an organisation.

Just like we have HR business partners in organisations, we will see the emergence of HR research partners because each department in the organisation must have its research department or research business partners. Even research departments will have research departments to ensure that research methods are up to date.

If we do not research, we will live in a world created by those who do. If we do not research, we will continue to benchmark those who do and we will never become a benchmark for others.

The research business partners will keep each department in the organisation abreast of trends and will help point recruitment and training in the right direction.

Besides acquiring research skills the HR practitioner of the future must be able to sell the future to the management of the organisation. The future represents a whole new paradigm but to get there the leadership of the organisation must first see it and buy into it.

Truth is that if they do not, chances of irrelevance become heightened but the truth is that they can’t see that. The reality of life is that corporate failures are orchestrated by decisions made by the very people assigned to protect and lead the company.

HR will be the most sought after profession of the future but it will not exist in its current form. The HR core will soon shift to data collection and analysis. HR will help us understand the data about people in the workforce but there is another side to the coin.

Mental health issues are on the rise because people are communicating more with gadgets than with people. At home communication is with gadgets.

At work, they communicate with other gadgets and machines. The HR of the future will have to be the oasis of humanity in the ocean of technology.

The leaders of today are leading people who have been raised in a social media world where a person’s feeling of importance is strongly connected to how many likes the person has. Understanding this will help leaders to understand those that are under their watch.

This generation is motivated by recognition than by any other thing. If you recognise and celebrate them, it is akin to them getting likes and follows on social media and they understand this very well.

The HR of the future will help us understand human behaviour in the workplace. We will also see a merging of roles between HR and psychologists as the human being becomes more complex because of the complexity of the world in which they live.

As the HR practitioner becomes a researcher, they will find it easy to drive the work transformation but more importantly they will insulate themselves and the organisation from irrelevance.

If you are not researching the future, you will be a victim of the future.

Wale Akinyemi is the chief transformation officer, PowerTalks