What is the real future of HR?

And what does that mean for leadership in the Human Resources sector?


It has long been the responsibility of Human Resources (HR) for finding the right people for their organisations. In addition to recruiting top talent, HR has traditionally been responsible for training and development, as well as employee retention, and providing management of employee benefits, including insurance and payroll.

That’s no longer enough to justify the existence of an HR team. To meet the needs today’s workforce, the role played by HR must change and evolve.

HR Must Evolve Past Traditional Boundaries

Organisations and their people are losing out by keeping HR functions separated from the rest of the activities. The very structure of the workplace is rapidly changing. To ensure that organisations can recruit the top talent that they need, and that people have the necessary support to produce their best work, HR must change the way it sees itself, and push past the old boundaries.

The HR of the future needs to become human-focused in a way it has never been.

HR is Decentralised

Rather than thinking of HR as a single department, some Human Resources responsibilities will be incorporated into every level of the organisation, no matter where the teams are located. That means learning to think globally about people issues.

To do this, HR must focus on building leaders who can build up and work with teams which are geographically widespread. There are challenges here including technological cultural and interpersonal, but the biggest challenge lies in equipping leaders with the skills needed to make people feel part of a cohesive team, even if they are not sharing an office or even a country.

HR should also focus on creating new opportunities for their organisations to share and exchange talent through collaborations and partnerships with external third parties.

Focusing on the Individual

This is something the millennials have asked of organisations, and to which organisations are just starting to respond. More and more, organizations will need to think about the person, not the team or business entity. Society has changed and people are looking for something worthwhile; a job where they feel they are really contributing.

For Human Resources, this means ditching the blanket approach to personal development and performance management. While there may be a general framework to follow, it’s now all about offering people the opportunity to improve themselves both as individuals and as team members. HR will need to find ways to help people harness their talents and put them to constructive use, and that may mean working outside the traditional ‘job description.”

HR is Pivotal in Leadership.

It’s easy to push out the HR functions into the rest of the organisation, but it’s not so easy to push out the skills that go with it. Leaders will need to be more flexible than ever before, so HR programs will need to concentrate on building communication and interpersonal skills. And not just the kinds of programs we’ve had before…

Leaders will need much deeper and more practiced skills to manage the human needs that come with every team, particularly when they are globalised. They will need to know how to create a career for their team members; a career that allows them to contribute to the world, and which brings them back to work, day after day. They will need skills to help them build cohesive teams, and foster a sense of belonging, no matter where the team members happen to be in the world. Leadership will be clearly about people, not processes.

The future of HR revolves around leadership development. By upskilling HR practitioners, they will become the new frame of reference for leadership behaviour and performance.

To produce great leaders, Human Resources will need to BE great leaders. That’s the real future of HR.

If this inspires you, check out our LeadershipHQ Human Resource leaders program. We believe that one of the best and most effective ways to create and respond to change is to equip an organizations “people” people – HR! Get in touch to find out more.


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