Why 2021 will be the 'golden era' of HR

HR leaders are having to work extra hard in order to future-proof their organizations

Why 2021 will be the 'golden era' of HR

As we pivot towards a new way of work, HR leaders are having to work extra hard in order to future-proof their organizations.

The key to navigating all of these monumental changes is to be open to disruption, facilitate continuous communication, and – perhaps most importantly – remain agile.

HRD spoke to Dr Jarik Conrad, senior director, human insights & HCM evangelism at Ultimate Kronos Group (UKG), and speaker at HRD’s upcoming HR Leaders Summit Toronto.

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Dr Conrad revealed the easiest ways to help employees hone their agility in the face of uncertainty.

“First, employers need to screen for these skills during the hiring process,” he told HRD.

“It’s much easier to hire people who have already demonstrated this skill rather than trying to help them develop it. Beyond that, employers will need to approach this challenge from multiple perspectives.”

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“There’s still room for formal training programs, but they need to be complemented with actual opportunities to practice those skills on the job. As with any behavior that an organization seeks to develop with their employees, the reward system must be designed to reinforce these behaviors.”

Learning and development took something of a backseat during the pandemic, with HR focused on keeping businesses afloat rather than career progression. And while this is understandable, it’s also counterproductive.

By teaching employees the skills needed to navigate chaos, organizations have the upper hand when it comes to future disruption.

A recent report from McKinsey found that companies which took the time to reskill employees felt more prepared to tackle future skills gaps than those that hadn’t. In fact, 47% of organizations that hadn’t undergone any upskilling admitted to being totally unprepared for future market upheaval.

Dr Conrad believes that one of these skills needed to not only survive but thrive during the next few years is heightened emotional intelligence.

“We have finally reached a point where business leaders understand the value of so-called soft skills,” he told HRD.

“Chief among them will be the constellation of skills that comprise emotional intelligence – empathy, self-awareness, stress management, flexibility and the like.”

As for the future of the sector itself, HR is really starting to come into its own.

“I think we are on the cusp of a golden era of HR,” Dr Conrad continued.

“The pandemic has helped the C-Suite understand that HR is a business-critical function. We have proven our worth in a crisis, and we will have the opportunity to demonstrate that same value during ‘normal’ times.”

“There will be a tremendous amount of energy invested in getting to know employees better and respecting them as partners, as opposed to resources only to be used in service of organizations. HR will lead this charge by becoming “people scientists” and “relationship brokers. This is actually one of our Megatrends for 2021.

To hear more from Dr Jarik Conrad and other leading HR experts, sign up to HR Leaders Summit Toronto here.

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