The brave new world of HR?

Written by
Changeboard Team

29 Oct 2010

29 Oct 2010 • by Changeboard Team

New HR model, but no army

Earlier this year, my colleague Rick Freeman and I wrote about a possible view of the future of HR in financial services. Under the title of 'New Model, No Army', we suggested that the HR department of the future could consist of only two roles. The ‘holy grail’ of the truly strategic HR business partner could become reality and as all HR services would be purchased from external suppliers or ‘the cloud’, the second role would be the procurement expert who would ensure they were obtained at the best possible price for the quality required.

Demise of the HR profession?

To an extent this vision was tongue in cheek, intended to stimulate debate – and in that respect, it has certainly been successful. Putting aside the surprise of two HR professionals writing about the possible near demise of their own profession, debate has ranged from a quizzically raised eyebrow to one very senior HR drector flinging the paper across his office. But no one has yet said that this can’t happen.

Business driven HR

So the debate has developed and widened to take in HR in general. Although there are abundant pressures on financial services HR departments to change their game, many if not all of these drivers are being felt by the HR community in other sectors. We all need to provide greater value for money and an HR service focussed more tightly on what the business really needs. So is the ultimate future for HR only two roles?

HR future requirements

Well, there is still not an army, but the number of possible roles in our model may have increased. As all services are provided by external suppliers, it has been suggested that a ‘portal expert’ will be required to ensure that business users have easy access to the services it needs.

Others have suggested that a key role of HR in the future will be communication so we had better include a communications specialist. And isn’t HR supposed to be an agent for change? So we should add in the change expert.

What do you think is the future of HR?

So our ‘no army’ is now experiencing a recruitment drive. But although we took the concept of ‘thin HR’ to its absolute extreme, it seems certain that HR will involve significantly less manpower in the future and the model will be very different. I don’t believe the end of HR is on the horizon, but I do believe we are starting to accelerate towards the new world.

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