How HR needs to change and what it will mean for our organisations

Vedran Ismaili on

With the increased focus on ways to manage our people a lot of focus is being put on HR but how will they live up to the pressure?

It is evident that we are seeing a big shift in how we manage our people. With the increasing pressure to work more proactively and data-driven with everything from recruitment to people development human resources is caught in the perfect storm. But how should HR approach this challenge and what will it take from them? Learn more in this first episode of Henry Talks. Below is a transcript of the interview.

This is a part of an ongoing series of interviews about building a truly people-first company. If you enjoy the conversation don’t miss out on the rest of the series. Make sure to subscribe either on Soundcloud or Itunes

Vedran: Welcome to this very first Henry episode of Henry talks. Today I have Tommie Cau with me. Tommie is an employer branding expert who has just launched his book State of Mind at work. Congrats Tommie and please tell us a bit about the book.

Tommie: Thank you very much. Sure. The book is about how we work where we in different chapters we look and present different ideas and insights on how you can become better at work. It is really about how you stay focused engaged and motivated in a work setting that is ever-changing.

Vedran: You always have a lot going on and you have been an important part of the HR community in Sweden, but how did you end up in the HR space from the beginning?

Tommie: Basically, by accident. So, I worked at a company about 12 years ago. They happened to work within employee branding, so I started working a lot in the space between branding and communication where employee branding kind of lives. This was around 2005-2006 and it was an exciting space to be in and interestingly enough it is still an exciting space to be in.

During 2006 companies also started to realize that maybe is not only the top talents with top grades from the top universities they should look for. They were exploring other options and it was an exciting moment in the evolution of Employer Branding because you now needed to find individuals with unique traits and match them to your own company in a different way.

Vedran: Why do you think there is so much movement in the HR tech market currently?

Tommie: I think everyone agrees the market needs disruption. Everyone agrees that we need to level with the consumers and we need to build tools that work with that need. We have behaviours that we bring to the workplace and often the tools we have aren't living up to these expectations.

Vedran: There are very few systems which are not kind of clunky and complicated, basically a world apart from the sleek interface I use in my everyday life. I'm curious to hear what you have seen as the most significant shifts or changes within the HR space?

Tommie: So some of the things that I see and spend a lot of time talking about is especially what you mention. We need to start with the individuals and their current habits because they bring these habits and expectations to the workplace. And the job seekers they are very much mature demanding digital consumers. They're not job seekers, they're not employees they're demanding mature digital consumers.

Now every single conference you go to where we talk about digital transformation regardless of it is with politicians or entrepreneurs everybody tends to come back to HR topics, which is quite fascinating. So everyone is talking about how important it is with acquiring and engaging talent, everyone is wondering how to become more agile and push innovation, especially now in the past few years where every company has developed a sort of digital anxiety. I think that's also one of the significant shifts during these last ten years, that due to digitalisation and massive increase in competition companies are forced to become more innovative.

Vedran: Given the increased focus on HR and new digital solutions. Do you think HR stands a chance against this "perfect storm"?

Tommie: It's interesting because I had a workshop last week with a big Swedish company and their global HR team. They where wondering what challenges they where up against, well the message was you're up against the future. If you need to handle all these things the HR role and department need to change because you will need new behaviours and competencies. So you need to push new people in the department to be ready for the future. You need a data scientist, UX designers, innovators and business developers. There are a few companies that are doing this, taking an agency approach and redesigning their HR processes and it is really cool to see they companies that are brave enough to do it.

In regards to the HR role, it also needs to change. You need to be aware and interested in technology. You need to have the curiosity to experiment and change.

Vedran: We know that the HR department and HR role needs to change. And we know change takes time but should there be a sense of urgency?

Tommie: I think this is one of the biggest changes during these last few years, that more and more companies and CEOs are realising that people are business critical and they have a direct bottom-line impact. And to come back to your question. No, we don't have time due to the competitive pressure. There is a real sense of urgency. That's why you can't trust that the HR leaders will just change by themselves. You need to rethink the way you run HR and bring in other competencies. Otherwise, you will see people walk out the door to other companies that are fast growing and dynamic.

Vedran: What I'm also have been thinking about is how we buy software and that needs to change in this fast-paced digital environment we are in. What are your thoughts about this?

Tommie: That's a very good point and I have a excellent example of that. One is a company where they are buying a new HR master system for the entire company. And compared to the last time they did it they where now looking into having a very thin master layer with quite a limited number of features. They want to be able to add a lot of different digital processes on top, a layer where they can add and remove tools as they see fit.

And I think this is a big change. Companies are starting to understand that you can't have a one size fits all.

Vedran: What is one thing you want me as a CEO or HR leader in a fast-growing company to take away from this conversation

Tommie: Start to test and try, be brave and experiment. It doesn't cost you a lot and it is simple to test new technologies. Make it into a group exercise where everyone within the HR team is required to try out new things and report back to the group. The sense of urgency is there, the need is there and it is relatively cheap to do so, take the time and do it. It is essential for HR and its role to be a part of the technological shift that is happening in many organisations.

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Vedran Ismaili

Co-founder & CEO - chatbot builder, optimist and rookie skateboarder.