The Strategic Evolution of HR

Kathy Rapp Change, Change Management, Communication, Corporate America, COVID-19, Current Affairs, Executive Search, Good HR, HR, Influence, Kathy Rapp, Leadership, Organizational Development, Risks, Talent Strategy, The HR Profession, Workforce Management Articles

Anyone else feel like they’ve lived through 2 years in the last 4 months? Are you apprehensive about the next 6 months?

You are normal if you answered “yes” to the above. You work in HR if you answered “HELL yes” while raising your beverage of choice in hand.

HR leaders I know, and others who I’ve had the opportunity to listen to, are all talking about the same thing. It’s not a trend. It’s not a crisis response to a pandemic. It’s the reality that has been building over the past few years, and due to Covid-19, was thrust into a higher gear.

We’re talking about the strategic evolution of HR.

HR has stepped up – and continued to step out of traditional roles and responsibilities. Covid-19 was just the exclamation point!

The role of the CHRO has continued to morph, and now, more than ever, a broader skill set is required for success.

During this crisis, HR leadership took charge of communications, facilities, business continuity planning, workforce planning and now, risk management in designing return to work strategies to address health and safety concerns.

HR leaders who were already in charge of, or leading enterprise-wide program management of, functions like communications, business continuity, facilities, health and safety ops – well, I dare say were more prepared to navigate these waters.

Those who did not have those skills, teams or experience, well…

Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked”.

If I’m a CEO headed into the last half of 2020, I’m ensuring I have the right leader(s) in these critical HR roles who have an evolved skill set. I’m also beefing up my Diversity, Equity and Inclusion strategy or finding the right people who can, but that’s another blog.

I will smack the next HR pro or academic talking head who insists HR must “have a seat at the table”. It’s the new, yet old, “I work in HR because I’m a people person” response from the late ’90’s – and it’s not relevant.

HR in 2020 should have continued to strengthen their partnership with the business through this crisis. HR owns the pulse of the workforce and as such, should be acting as key advisors to the CEO. Heads of HR must ensure all things people are at the top of the business agenda. CHROs with these evolved skills are focused on agility, resilience and growth – and are looking for teammates who have those traits as well.

CEOs should be taking a hard (but brief) look at who was swimming naked and recognize the modern HR leader/function is an evolved one that can provide organizational leadership across many disciplines, all the while keeping people operations at the heart of the business.