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  • Writer's pictureAndrée Laforge

Human resources - time to shift up a gear

Recently, several discussions with researchers on the digital transformation of the HR function led me to reflect on its actual evolution in 2024. Exploring recent readings, such as McKinsey's article “Reimagining HR: Insights from People Leaders”, I found that while progress has been made in digitizing and automating HR processes, these efforts have not fully translated into recognizing the HR function as a strategic partner. The article suggests that HR needs to focus on agility, refocus business partners on advising senior management and managers, and organize initiatives around the employee experience to elevate its strategic role.



This debate is far from new! We've been talking about it for over 20 years. Criticism of the HR function's effectiveness and influence has been addressed in numerous articles, including Fast Company's famous “Why We Hate HR” in August 2005, which continues to fuel discussion. Unfortunately, the perception of the HR function as mainly administrative and not very strategic persists to this day. Some even criticize HR managers for their lack of understanding of their own organization's business issues.



So, what's to be done? Should we switch gears? Accelerate the transformation? Should you step out of your comfort zone?  To stay competitive, companies need to be increasingly agile and creative in managing employees, and in attracting and retaining talent. Companies need talented HR professionals who understand business strategy and know how to use employee data to improve organizational effectiveness. But to do so, they may need to press the “Turbo” button. It may mean rethinking the management and structure of the HR function.



Recruiting the best talent for the HR function


To attract the best HR talent, it's crucial to compensate them on a par with marketing or finance functions, which is not currently the case... In addition, it may be necessary to diversify HR profiles to include more analytical talent. Temporary experience in operations could also help HR professionals better understand company dynamics.



Optimizing administrative tasks


Unfortunately, HR professionals spend much of their time on administrative tasks and assisting managers with employee management. While these tasks are necessary, they consume a lot of time and prevent HR professionals from focusing on more strategic initiatives. However, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to optimize administrative tasks in human resources is a growing trend that offers many benefits. For example, AI can automate CV sorting, deploy recruitment chatbots, perform predictive analytics, automate the management of leave requests and absences, and personalize employee training. These technologies not only save time and reduce costs but also improve the accuracy of decisions.



The solution: a new structure for the HR function


The idea of separating the HR function into two distinct groups is a strategy discussed by several consultancies and HR experts. For example, in Deloitte's report “Global Human Capital Trends 2021”, it is mentioned that the HR function must evolve to become more agile and talent-centric, relying more on technology and separating administrative tasks from strategic ones. The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has published a report entitled “Creating People Advantage 2021: The Future of People Management Priorities”. This report highlights the importance of rethinking HR functions, emphasizing the use of technology to automate administrative tasks and enable HR teams to focus on strategic talent management.



What do you think?


Should we switch gears? Or should we slow down? Are we asking too much of HR? Whatever the case, the status quo is not the answer. Does the HR function need to reinvent itself to better meet current and future challenges? I know, I've got more questions than answers! I invite you to share your thoughts with me!



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