Pace of change gives HR a chance to steer organisations


Senior HR figures have called on the profession to use the frantic pace of change in today’s workplaces to take control of their organisations’ futures.

HR leaders at communications giant Vodafone, postal services provider Royal Mail, consumer goods firm Unilever and publishing group Taylor and Francis sounded a rallying call to the profession.

Recent research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development found that 81% of HR functions alone have been restructured in the past five years.

And the Chartered Management Institute predicted that many organisations would undergo further radical structural changes in the next 10 years.

Talking exclusively to Personnel Today Mike Taylor, director of HR transformation and services at Vodafone, said that senior practitioners should use this change as an opportunity to shape their organisations’ agendas.

“Our businesses are changing and evolving really rapidly. HR should be right at the forefront of change, along with the business leaders, making sure they’re helping their businesses evolve for the future,” he said.

To do this, Royal Mail director of people and organisational development services Dermot Toberty stressed that HR must clearly define what it can add to the business.

“When we’re talking the language of ‘value-add’, is it about cost reduction, or getting processes slicker, faster or cheaper?” he asked.

“Think about what you’re producing, think about it like you’re in a manufacturing environment: are those interventions genuinely driving the company forward?”

Toberty also called for simple language from HR professionals. “Try and strip away the jargon and work with line managers to understand what the common agenda is about the things they would like to see in their organisations.”

Earlier this year consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers revealed that 89% of chief executives rated the people agenda as their main concern – but just 43% thought their HR teams were equipped to deal with the challenge.

Gareth Williams, HR director at Talyor and Francis, said: “There is cynicism from the top as to what HR is really there to do. But this presents HR with a chance to strengthen its leadership and focus on the outputs we deliver.”

Unilever HR business partner Theresa Winters agreed. “It’s about balancing the priorities you have and balancing your business’s change with central HR, and the day-to-day things that pop up,” she said.

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