How human resources can use its seat at the executive table
By SANDY CLARKE and MARY CHUA (talent and rewards leader, Towers Watson Malaysia)
Once upon a time, human resources (HR) professionals would take care of employee administration and keep track of payroll for their organisation. HR professionals had what we might politely term “office jobs”, and were seen to be very much separate from the decision-making process of senior management.
Now, decades later, HR professionals are urged to become strategic partners in advising leadership teams, and are being steered towards sitting at the executive table as a crucial part of decision-making. This is largely due to the increasingly global nature of today’s workforce, which requires engagement, innovation, and diversity to manage effectively – qualities that HR professionals need to possess, in order to bring human resources to the next level.
As South-East Asia faces a number of challenges in harnessing top talent to bolster the region’s economic performance, there has never been a greater need for investment in HR, nor a more urgent need to recognise not only the vital role HR plays in the success of organisations, but also in the diverse ways in which it plays that role.
Of course, as HR professionals continue to develop and excel in areas such as training and development, its main challenge lies in helping leaders understand the strategic value those areas add to business success, considering business needs when developing their solutions and framing them as such.
HR as strategists
HR plays a pivotal role in significantly contributing, shaping and influencing the long-term plans of organisations. Key contributions include:
HR as data scientists
One of the key enablers for HR to play a strategic role is harnessing technology to mine data that may not be accessible previously, and using this data to draw uncommon insights.
HR as brand ambassadors
Employer branding by organisations can no longer be distinguished from its consumer brand. A well-aligned consumer and employer brand can deliver exponential benefits to the organisation. A strong employer brand allows an organisation to be a talent magnet to hire the best, which will in turn benefit the business as well as to reinforce the brand.
HR as value creators
HR plays a pivotal role in enhancing the value of the human capital assets through strategic talent management efforts and aligned performance management and reward programmes.
The evolution of head of human resources
HR plays a critical role in looking to the future to ensure the sustainability of the organisation’s human capital, as well as taking care of the employee experience and engagement within the organisation, while simultaneously being a trusted adviser to the Board and senior management.
Such is the diverse nature of HR in today’s business community, HR professionals are key to ensuring that all aspects of business are able to grow, develop and thrive. This is seen through providing a range of services and performing a number of functions in roles such as strategists, data scientists, and brand ambassadors, to name just a few.
The future of HR
“One key HR competency of the future will be agility – responding to the changing demands and expectations of businesses and employees; changes in how and where work gets done and what employees want from their employers. Successful HR leaders of tomorrow will be shifting their focus from consistency and control to providing frameworks that allow organisations to categorise employees in terms of their needs, and will customise the employment deal accordingly”. — Clare Muhiudeen, managing director, Talent & Rewards, Asia Pacific, Towers Watson
HR in the future: Emerging competencies HR professionals need to have in performing their roles
Reinventing HR: An extreme makeover
According to the Southeast Asia Human Capital Trends 2015: Leading in the New World of Work report by Deloitte, talent is in high demand and many organisations struggle to attract or retain the right people with the right skills in the right roles. In this growth environment, human capital issues are critical to ensure organisations have the talent and capabilities to achieve business sustainability, competitiveness and success.
Traditional HR practices such as performance management and leadership and development are undergoing radical changes.
Imagine an organisation where business leaders look to HR for advice as they develop business strategies to drive growth, where HR is considered the developer of talent and leadership across the business and where business leaders respect and admire the HR professionals as co-leaders of the business.
In Southeast Asia, financial services have led by example, making significant progress in relation to investing in HR talent and development through designing HR functions that deliver business integrated solutions. As Deloitte’s report suggests, for many organisations, it’s time to “redesign HR with a focus on delivering high-impact business driven solutions, not just efficient HR administration. HR business partners must become trusted advisors to business leaders on people matters with the requisite skills to analyse, consult, and resolve critical business issues.”
The research carried out by Deloitte also suggests that there have been pockets of progress seen across industries, with telecommunications and technology companies being the early adopters in implementing new HR delivery models, helping to align HR professionals with business leaders in helping to achieve business goals and objectives. Indeed, HR must partner with business leaders to understand and better define the talent supply and demand specific to their organisation’s critical roles. This will allow for the creation and implementation of a clear workforce strategy to determine which skills are better suited to be developed within the existing workforce versus those recruited externally.
In summary, the most proactive organisations are “prioritising their critical talent management challenges and are reinventing their HR functions to better support these areas. HR and business leaders must be bold and innovative to tailor solutions that are effective for their own business objectives and needs.”
Source: SEA Human Capital Trends 2015, Deloitte Consulting Southeast Asia
For the full report, please click here.