What comes to mind when you think of Human Resources? Most people connect the role to “hiring and firing” and more recently, in our existing economic climate, retrenchment. There are so many misconceptions that surround what an HR Professional actually does, however, while “hiring, firing and retrenchment’ are elements of HR, one of HR’s strategic role is to develop people in a way they support the overarching goals of the organisation, bridging the gaps between staff and the mission of the C-Suite. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), “strategic human resource management involves a future-oriented process of developing and implementing HR programs that address and solve business problems and directly contribute to major long-term business objectives.”
In recent years, amidst the present health crisis situation of the COVID-19 pandemic which plagued the world solidly for approximately two years and continuing, and now, the high possibility of the monkeypox virus making its way around the world, HR is critically required to support leadership in many ways. HR leaders were forced to plan and adapt to work-from-home (WFH) arrangements, with a high expectation of support from leadership and executives, in preparing action plans, creating policies, negotiating the alteration of terms and conditions with employees and Unions, where there were Recognized Majority Unions (RMU), all in constricted timelines. This proved that HR not only supported leaders and decision-making but was required to get involved in the forecasting of operations. There has been a shift whereby HR is seen by more organisations than ever before, as a strategic business partner.
While most organisations employ HR Managers, they were tasked with solving employee problems, managing labour relations, and keeping employees ‘happy’. Today, HR leaders are acting as coaches for executives who require the support of dealing with the challenges of the crisis situations; this was especially seen with the sudden introduction of curfews, safe zones and Public Health Regulations which forced the closure of many businesses, leading to mental health issues experienced by C-Suite and staff alike. In many cases where the burden fell on HR to show care and empathy through actions taken and decisions made, who was there to support HR?
At present, and futuristically planning, progressive HR leaders are now heavily focusing their attention, strategically and operationally through the organisational plans geared towards “The Future of Work”. It is imperative to consider what the future of work would look like as many organisations are still unclear of whether to maintain the hybrid work environment or to revert to the archaic in-office work schedules. According to Deloitte’s special report on Workforce strategies for post COVID-19 recovery, “Organisations’ first priority has been crisis response.
Now, as organisations begin to emerge from this response phase, leaders are focusing on the next set of workforce challenges as they plan for the recovery.”
In consideration of the future of work, Havard Business Reviews article entitled “11 Trends that Will Shape Work in 2022 and Beyond” point #7 alleges that “The complexity of managing a hybrid workforce will drive some employers to require a return to the office.” In Trinidad and Tobago, we have seen this return to in office work, and while this is required in some sectors, it is highly possible to maintain the hybrid work arrangements however, without the right tools and equipment to monitor performance levels and the right technology and infrastructure, there may be significant risks to organisations. More importantly, the right attitude and behaviours must accompany these hybrid work arrangements to support its effectiveness and performance levels to ensure sustainability.
The disruptions we have witnessed are indeed a challenge. However, we see it as an opportunity for HR to lead the way for their organisations. The future of work is not only about hybrid working arrangements but rather it is also the ability to leverage strategy and technology to empower HR to support, flexibility, work-life balance, organisational restructuring & re-organisation, review of operations and diversity, equity & inclusion (dei).
The challenge is on, as the race has begun for organisation to adapt and plan for the future of work. Attracting the right candidates for positions will also become more competitive as candidates will be assessing organisations’ work styles and adaptation to new and emerging trends which allows for flexibility, work-life balance and other factors. Simultaneously, employees and potential employees will also be required to adapt to new requirements for positions, as organisations are now focusing on technological advancements and will seek to attract employees who are technology-savvy, flexible to remote work options etc.
Job-seekers and students can expect to see an increase of jobs and positions in the field of technology, application development, cybersecurity and similar fields.
Given the magnitude of the tasks that lie ahead, what will the future of work look like? Who will lead the race and set the standards? As the organizations of the future takes shape, HR will be the driving force for many initiatives: mapping talent to value; making the workforce more flexible; prioritising strategic workforce planning, performance management, and reskilling; building an HR platform; and developing an HR tech ecosystem.
For other initiatives, HR can help C-suite leaders push forward on establishing and radiating purpose, improving employee experience, driving leadership and culture, and simplifying the organisation. Are you excited yet?
About HRMATT: The Human Resource Management Association of Trinidad & Tobago (HRMATT) is the leading voice of the Human Resource Profession locally. HRMATT Says is a column meant to address issues and concerns of professionals and the general public focused on Human Capital Development. Today’s article is written by HRMATT’s Education Officer and Human Resource and Industrial Relations Practitioner, Kimberly Chan, MBA, AMABE. Learn more about HRMATT by visiting all our website: www.hrmatt.com. Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. Contact us: 687-5523 or via email: email@example.com