Should HR become an invisible role?

HR is at a pivotal point where it can either step into centre stage or stay in the shadows. We talked to one HR director about how he sees the role evolving in the future

Should HR become an invisible role?
With advances in automation and technology dramatically changing HR, it is time to see if HR should step forward and become more visible within the business or remain in its behind-the-scenes role.
 
Darren Fewster, executive director, shared services human resources at Telstra, said that HR is currently in a state of flux where some aspects will become invisible or even cease to exist entirely.
 
As HR’s role changes, certain generalist functions will disappear. Other areas will be affected by technology, he said.
 
“[Business leaders] want HR to help them find and develop talent for their business, including their leadership pipelines, to help drive a high-performance and customer-focused workplace culture, to help them predict and solve business problems,” he said.
 
However, there may be a mismatch between what business leaders perceive HR can deliver and what HR’s actual function is.
 
“And that’s the challenge,” Fewster said. “It’s about ensuring that HR understands the business and delivers on what it needs.”
 
One of HR’s major strengths is the value of the data it can provide to the business and customers especially in terms of predictive analytics. This is one option for HR professionals looking to become key ‘problem solvers’ in business.
 
“As a function, HR owns an incredible amount of end-to-end people data – from the time that we start attracting and recruiting people, throughout their employment and when they leave the company,” he said.
 
“If we can take this data to solve and even predict business talent and engagement issues then this will be of immense value to any business.”
 
Technology is also employing employees to get the information they require without HR needing to intervene, Fewster added.
 
“Employees and managers will increasingly get the answers they need when they want them through innovation and digital solutions, while traditional HR services will be readily performed online.”
 
Through these changes, it is now HR’s role to empower rather than police the workforce, Fewster said.
 
“Our approach to the workplace should be that we empower 99% of people who come to work to do a good job and contribute in a meaningful way,” he said. “A successful HR team is one that adds value to the business, partnering with leaders to deliver on the company’s strategic and cultural priorities.”
 
Related stories:
 
Dealing with the HR identity crisis
 
HR’s fine balance between art and science
 
Will HR’s role change in 2016?

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