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HR Faces New Challenge

How relevant are our Human Resources departments as they are today? How do we create a competitive recruitment strategy and win the best talent for our organisations?

Lucy Adam previous HR Director of the BBC believes it’s time for something different.

She explains “HR can’t carry on in the same old way or it will be irrelevant before we know it. If we can transform the way we practice HR, we’ll be turning our organisations into winners of the 21st century!” Through her agency ‘Disruptive HR’ Lucy aims to promote new ways to support businesses in today’s complex world.  In doing so she challenges leaders and HR professionals to learn from sources as varied as management theory, marketing, neuroscience and the latest thinking on motivation and reward.

In her book ‘HR Disrupted’ Lucy explains that the main barrier to accepting change in HR boils down to ingrained assumptions about what constitutes good HR practice, too much attention to numbers and processes rather than people and the pressure from external regulators.

Many leaders in business today moved up through their businesses in the 1980’s and 90’s when there was a proliferation of executive leadership programmes, growth of training and development, beginning of employee engagement surveys and growth of complex bonus schemes.

Then in the 1990’s into the new millennium we’ve seen increased awareness of the importance of people in organisations, directors beginning to understand that it wasn’t enough to have a brilliant business strategy… they needed to develop their employees as well.

This development often entailed tick box mechanisms and score cards. As a result these leaders have been graded and rated to within an inch of their lives and they are adopting this as leaders today.  With staff being measured through tracking participation in courses, appraisals and surveys.

The pressure to justify HR financially and the difficulty of unpicking processes is getting in the way of implementing change in line with business needs according to Lucy Adams.

Change can’t happen all at once and it certainly must address the needs of the business. If we begin with one area that clearly isn’t working well and pilot, sense check and build a business case for change, we can begin to explore how our HR departments might evolve in the future. ‘Disruptive HR’ certainly provokes thought and whether we agree or disagree with all aspects of its content, it certainly challenges the norm and offers HR professionals insight and strategies to rethink the HR function in the light of the changing world we find ourselves in today.


Louise Hewett

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