Have we reached “Peak HR?”

The possible inconvenient truth is that with the rise of Artificial Intelligence, IBM Watson, analytics/big data and ‘bots’ continuously creeping into HR – we may be at the point of ‘Peak HR.’ From recruitment to learning the HR function is increasingly giving way to technology.

Frank Douglas, CEO at Caerus Executive inspires HR professionals at myHRcareers HR networking party in Central London

Frank Douglas, CEO at Caerus Executive


As such, will HR exist, as we know it ,in the 10 years time? Probably not
but there is still a role for HR to own if its captures that space now. In short, the future of HR is dependent on these factors:

Commercial and functional acumen leading to strategic insights: HR must be able to totally understand the key drivers of business, the organizational strengths and weaknesses of that business and, converge that knowledge into insights that guide the future direction of the business.

Reaffirming the role of HR as the ‘people’s advocate: HR, at times, suffers from a mild case of the Stockholm Syndrome: we are so focused on being liked and accepted by the business that we forget that a main part of our role is to advocate for the staff of the business – even if that seems ‘warm and fuzzy’ (and disruptive) to the bean counters. Employee moral, equity and fairness, engagement, diversity and social responsibility may not easily plug into an Excel spreadsheet but they need a (HR) champion.

Understanding the power and shortcomings of technology: most enterprise-wide system implementations fail to realize their financial objectives because we have under invested in changing the behaviors of the users. HR must understand not only which technologies are fit for purpose but how do you change the behaviors to truly benefit from them. How many managers in a ‘manager self-service’ environment delegate that responsibility to someone else?

Accepting the new HR skill set: the professional training by the CIPD or SHRM has not radically changed in the last 15 years. Where are the courses in cyber security, predictive lead scoring and predictive conversion rates, understanding how we can apply the software concept of fearless refactoring to HR, Excel skills in Pivot tables and pivot reporting and, how to use the KPI concept of ‘cost to serve’. These may all sound foreign to the HR community, today. However, if they are not part of the HR lexicon, in 5-10 years, we will be on her way to fading away. The good news is that we have time to adapt and change the function.

The future of HR as we know it is clearly under threat. However, we do have time to ensure its future if we act radically and fast. Think about how the first car was referred to as a ‘horseless carriage;” we now refer to it as a car. Similarly, HR must no longer define itself in reference to the past and boldly move to redefine itself for the future and the resulting new lexicon and skills that must follow.

About the Author: Frank Douglas, FCIPD CEO, Caerus Executive @fdoug23

Frank Douglas is an advisor to myHRcareres & celebrated speaker at many of our events.
On Wednesday 9th November he will be speaking at myHRparty in Manchester.
Join us at this free, informal networking event to challenge Frank on these ideas & share your views
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