The Future of HR, part 24: Can we divide HR?

Although it would be the end of this series, and the end of my blog, I would like to consider if we can get rid of HR. Human resources management is a recent invention, and why could it not become obsolete? In the last years it has become clear that HR will be split in two parts: HR Advice and HR Services. HR Services will be the biggest part of what is currently called HR. The services will be delivered by sophisticated HR systems, and less and less we will need HR staff to operate these systems. Specialized services can be outsourced when necessary, and HR specialists in certain areas will most likely have a future (Question 1: which HR specialists will have the best future?). The HR advisors (“Business Partners” in HR jargon) will be the HR architects in the organization: given our strategy, how will we deal with organizational and staffing issues? These roles require general HR professionals, with a very good understanding of the business and a good understanding of the possible organizational and HR interventions (Question 2: do we need HR professionals in these positions? Question 3: are these positions really necessary, or should they be part of the general manager’s portfolio?)

In many multinational organizations important themes are: Global collaboration, performance management and risk management. These, and other themes require a multidisciplinary approach. In most bigger companies staff is still organized in traditional buckets: Finance, Legal, IT, HR and Communications are there most of the time. These departments are often split in smaller specialized units (Tax, Treasury, Internal- and external communications, Recruitment, Compensation & Benefits, IT architecture to name a few). Generally: with more departments a multidisciplinary approach becomes more difficult, as each profession has a preference for certain solutions (Question 4: when it comes to increasing global collaboration, what would be the preferred interventions of IT, of Legal, of Training and Development and of the Comp & Ben specialist?).

Can we, short term, divide HR over the other departments? Who will get what?

  • Legal will get Compliance and all labor contracts and labor law issues
  • Finance will get Payroll (if not already there…), and Compensation & Benefits
  • Recruitment: will be done by the people who have the vacancy, using LinkedIn and other recruitment tools, with the help of the Applicant Tracking System and specialists outside the organization
  • The CIO will develop into the Chief Digital Officer and later into the Chief Collaboration Officer.
    As standardized HR processes are vital for the future of the organization, the CIO can take the lead here, as she/he generally has solid experience in process mapping, workflow design and automation
  • Internal Communication and Leadership engagement can be transferred to the communications team
  • Training and Development can be outsourced
  • Talent management and succession management will be brought back to the leaders in the line, supported by adequate systems; when necessary coaching can be hired externally

Question 5: What responsibilities/ activities are left, and where would you assign them?
Question 6: Will there still be roles for HR Generalists/ HR Architects?

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