HR must abandon hope or become ‘human remains’

HR professionals must face up to the reality of the global trends that have changed the role of HR if they are to avoid becoming ‘human remains’.

That was the tough message delivered by futurist Larry Hochman in his speech at the HR Forum on board the cruise ship Aurora last week.

He said that HR must adapt to the reality that the world is “mobile, global, temporary, offshored, outsourced, insourced and flooded with information”.

“Don’t underestimate these trends and how they will affect our lives,” said Hochman. “Don’t hope that they will go away. Hope is not a strategy.”

Referring to Personnel Today’s lead story on 10 May about outsourcing more HR jobs, he stressed that it must only be the processes that get contracted out.

“What gives HR its relevance is capitalising, attracting, retaining and organising talent. Never contract these out if you want HR to be relevant in the future,” warned Hochman.

He added that it was vital for HR to “simplify and synthesise its priorities to focus on the issues that are truly relevant to the success of the business”.

These include: making sure that people have the best possible environment to do their best work every day; giving people freedom to contribute, “as talent soars when you set it free”; empowering people by taking fear and bureaucracy out of the decision-making process and rewarding people for making courageous decisions; and creating an environment and culture that talented people want to join – and where they want to stay.

Key factors in attracting future top talent will be work-life balance and ethics, said Hochman.

“It’s up to HR to map the genetic code of the company and hire people for their cultural fit and their passion,” he said.

During questions at the end of Hochman’s speech, Vance Kearney, vice-president of HR EMEA at Oracle, said that if HR achieved all this, then the HR function would no longer be required.

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