18 roles for HR in 2018


1. The Accelerator

Speed is of utmost importance. HR can help to accelerate processes and decision making. The pace in most organisations is too slow. The year is still the most important planning building block. HR can do a lot to help to increase the speed. Hire speedy persons. Get rid of, or redesign, slow and bureaucratic processes. Stop with one-size-fits-all concepts. Adopt ‘Just-in time’ and get rid of ‘Just-in-case’.

2. The Challenger

We need people who dare to challenge at the top. Group think is observed too often. The plans are always ambitious and will result in more growth. Nobody wants to be the party pooper. Nobody wants to be perceived as a blocker. This is where HR can show its independency, and challenge where others choose to be followers.

3. The Connector

In today’s organisation it is all about connections. HR must focus on building and strengthening the connections. Between countries. Between functional areas. Between old and young. Between Baby Boomers and Gen Y and Gen Z. Between old and new. Between early-adaptors and followers. Between change lovers and stabilisers. Between inner circle and outer circle. Between leaders and followers. Between HQ and the people at the front. Read: Organisational Network Analysis.

4. The Data-cruncher

Traditionally data analysis is not one of the core competencies of HR. It should be, and modern technology will help a lot. HR can have its sensors out wide in the organisation. What is happening with the engagement levels of people in critical projects? What capabilities are slowly eroding? Moving people analytics from descriptive to predictive.

5. The Designer

Can organisations be beautiful? Can organisations be a place where it is fun to be? HR can play a more active role in workplace design. Functionality and efficiency: yes, but let’s as HR add the people element. Let’s also make sure what we design can fulfil the needs of different groups.
Another type of designer is the employee journey designer (see role 7).

6. The Employee Champion

One of the most undervalued roles in the original Ulrich model is finally getting some traction. For years HR has focused on becoming part of senior management (or al least getting as close as possible to senior management). Nobody wanted to be an administrative expert, and focusing on the employees was also very old fashioned. This is changing, and employee intimacy is becoming more important. Read: To a more human and holistic HR.

7. The Employee Journey Designer

The employee journey and the employee experience are becoming mainstream in 2018. Designing the journey, from start to finish, is becoming an important role of HR. Read: Where to start when you want to improve the employee experience?

8. The Experimenter

We can learn a lot of experiments. HR can drive experiments. Do not strive to design the global all-encompassing process, practice or system that will be future-proof. Time goes by and nothing happens. Start experiments with those parts of the organisation that love something new. Implement, learn, adapt and start a new experiment.

9. The Guardian of the Values

Organisations and people become more and more values driven. Strong values need to be nourished and defended. HR leaders should be role models that through their behaviours show that they are living the values.

10. The magician

Top HR professionals can be magicians. For example, by producing surprising insights with the help of people analytics. Management and employees like surprising insights, and HR can provide them. Sourcing surprising candidates is another area where HR can add a lot of value.

11. The meditator

The HR pro keeps her head cool. She is focused and immune to distractions. She finds time to mediate every day. Headspace is her favourite app.

12. The performance consultant

Some people are better in giving feedback than others. It is probably better to make use of the capabilities of these people, then to train all people to give better feedback. Performance consulting is an excellent role for HR: helping good people to become better.
Read: Improving Performance Consulting.

13. The Receptionist

Administrative Expert was the least desirable role in the Ulrich model (see also role 6). An important element in the HR service centre is hospitality. If organisations investigate how employees experience their journey, they often mention how difficult it is to find relevant HR information. The intranet contains may pages, but to find the right information is cumbersome. If you try to contact the HR service centre, they are difficult to reach. Hospitality should be high on the capability list of HR employees in the service centre. Although chatbots will play an important role, for more complex issues we will need human interaction. Read: HR Operations in the lift.

14. The Slacker

Some time ago there was a nice blog with the title “What happened to down time; the extinction of deep thinking & sacred space”. Downtime is needed. HR can be exemplary here as well. Do not plan meetings back-to-back. Do not judge people who allow themselves some slack.

15. The smooth operator

This role is related to role 13, the receptionist. The smooth operator knows her IT-stuff. HR processes and workflows are running smoothly in the background, and offer all the users (candidates, employees, managers) a world class experience. The smooth operator is invisible, but very important as the engine of HR.

16. The Storyteller

2018 will also be a year of storytelling. Through stories we can learn about the ambitions of the company. Through stories we can learn what living the values really means. Through stories we can connect the organisation to the surrounding world. HR could be the master of storytelling.

17. The Techie

HR tech offers numerous opportunities. HR should be tech savvy, and be able to find solutions that can help to increase the impact of HR.  Not an easy role. There are many solutions on the market, and the HR tech landscape is changing every day. Read: HR Tech trends often ignored by HR. Have a look at the HR Tech Community.

18. The Voice

As one of the major HR trends for 2018, we mentioned “Power to the People”. Many organisations are still used to work in a top-down way. In those organisations, also HR finds it difficult to approach issues in a different way. Performance management is a good example. Changing the performance management process is often tackled as an organisation wide issue, and HR needs to find the new uniform solution. In line with the trend called “the consumerisation of HR” employees are expected to take more initiative, being tired of waiting for the organisation and HR, and wanting to be more independent of organisational initiatives. If HR is clever, it senses the needs and ideas in the undercurrent of the organisation, and acts as the voice that expresses these ideas.





Read more on HR trends

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