Subscribe to our free newsletter:

To a more human and holistic HR (HR Trends 2017, 17)

7th, August 2017
0 Comment
by Tom Haak
in  Trends in HR

human and holistic hr

When I started working, in 1982, HR did not really exist. We were called Personnel Managers. Probably I just started working in the period that personnel management started to gain importance, and management and personnel professionals became aware that organisations could benefit from a more strategic and structured approach to people management.
In my working life I experienced three shifts.

From personnel administration to HR management

The first shift was from personnel administration to HR management. Philips Electronics, where I was hired in 1982, was in those days one of the leading companies in this area. I was hired, in a small group of trainees, because Philips wanted a different kind of personnel professionals. more business oriented, and with a more solid scientific background. The research team of the Social Affairs department, was famous in those days.

Trying to be part of management

The next phase was captured well by Dave Ulrich in his book “Human Resource Champions“. This has probably been the book with the largest impact on the HR profession in the last decades. Unfortunately, many people did not read the book, but only saw a picture with the four archetypical roles for HR. For many the book was summarised in one key message: you have to become a Strategic Partner. As strategy was a role of top management, this meant you had to get get close to management, or even better, become part of top management! Many of today’s CHRO’s have grown in this area. Therefore, HR has focused too much on pleasing top management, and forgot to develop one of the other key roles Ulrich described: Employee Champion.

Back to a more employee centric approach

In the last years, we see a trend to a shift back to a more employee centric approach. In a sense, HR is returning to its roots. The term “Human Resources” has become suspicious, and more and more HR departments are changing into People Operations teams. Pleasing employees is becoming more important than pleasing management. The focus on the employee experience is a clear indication of this shift.

Further reading


Illustration: Studio Fee Overbeeke


HR Trends for 2017:

HR Trend Institute

The HR Trend Institute detects, follows and encourages smart and creative use of trends in the field of people and organisations, and also in adjacent areas. 

The HR Trend Institute can support you in several ways. Read more on our Services page.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

add to add to Google+ add to add to add to add to add to add to

About the Author: Tom Haak


Tom Haak is the founder and director of The HR Trend Institute. Prior to founding the HR Trend Institute in 2014, Tom held senior HR positions in companies as Arcadis, Aon, KPMG and Philips. The HR Trend Institute detects, follows and encourages smart and creative use of trends in the field of people and organizations, and also in adjacent areas.