This HR Model Works

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I work with companies to help them establish ways of improving performance and invariably HR comes under the spotlight too.  Ulrich introduced us to the concept of the business partner some years back as part of his wider HR model. He acknowledges that things have moved on yet many businesses religiously continue to use it even though for some businesses it has put a square HR peg in a round hole.  A need for a different sort of HR model has emerged.

In a recent article, I wrote about an excellent DDI report I had read.  DDI (Development Dimensions International) believe that HR has evolved from being a Reactor – applying company policies and procedures and responding to requests for administration – into a highly collaborative business partner.

DDI reckon that HR must take the next step to become an ‘Anticipator’, new HR jargon for professionals who are adept at identifying future trends, talent gaps and negotiating round the problems that might impact business strategy.  Their report says that only about 18% of the HR profession has stepped up to the plate so far.

And it has to be said that in this fast moving world the age of Centre’s of Excellence have also had their day as they cannot keep pace with changing business needs. Josh Bersin reckons they need to evolve into “Networks of Excellence” and while I am forever flustered by HR jargon such as this I feel sure that he has a point and technology can play a part in helping business unit HR to deliver what the so called ‘Centre’s of Excellence’ – the specialists – tried to deliver in the past.

Everyday HR Queries don’t magically disappear in this new world

In the new HR world, transactional HR administration stills needs to be delivered and technology is a key enabler in ensuring that tools and services are easy for employees to use – the service needs to have a consumer like feel to it. Yet technology is after all just a tool and will not deliver the strategic people agenda by itself.

Understanding how to combine the strategic ‘Anticipator’ focus with the effective delivery of a flexible and agile HR service that employees enjoy using requires some thought.  Add to this that today’s businesses need HR services that enables the business to change shape, reorganise, innovate and create new ways of working to meet an ever changing market at the drop of a hat and you have something of a challenge on your hands. 

It worked in Finance!

My experience has been that a lot of companies that have delivered change through automation of Finance Admin have then moved on to tackle HR Admin.  Many have in fact failed to recognise the distinct differences in the end users need for the service, (it can be quite emotional) the link to the overall people agenda and so the results have often been messy. 

How to get started 

What’s clear is that when embarking on a new HR operating model is that along with choosing and making best use of the amazing technology which is out there you will need to consider a number of areas and I have outlined a few below:

  1. Traditional HR may be very inward thinking so why not take them on a journey of discovery! What challenges is the business facing and how can HR help them to overcome these – clearly the “anticipator’ stuff I mentioned earlier.
  2. Mind the gap.  What service does the business actually need and therefore what needs to change? What should start, stop or continue.  If it is a global business what employment legislation constraints are there? Where are the gaps in your current service/process catalogue? What other technology does the new system need to join up with?
  3. The Shape of HR.  Who will deliver those solutions and how will it change the make up of your HR team? What skills sets are needed in the new world? Is outsourcing or offshoring a low cost option, which will enable your HR team to concentrate on anticipating challenges and supporting business growth?
  4. The Shape of your People.  How does the current HR model reflect the shape of your business model?  What s the profile of your workforce.  How tech savvy are they?  Which channels will you use to make the employee experience as easy as possible to use so that managers and employees can get on with executing their duties.

This type of thinking will get your project off the ground and you may need some help and advice from an expert to guide you through the rest of the maze.

Top Tip

Too many companies dive straight into the detail of gathering the “As Is” data and arrange workshops for thinking about how they can make the service better.  They miss a trick.  Start by getting key stakeholders to help you put in place some simple design values that will become the foundations for the new HR Architecture and your new model will have more chance of success.

Each company will be different but some generic design rules include simplification of process, a business outcome focus, cost effectiveness and a great employee experience, where the aim to offer as frictionless a system to your employees as you have already delivered to your customers.

Finally, pay attention to the cultural impact that a change in HR model will affect across your business because it will impact every employee.

Ruth Gawthorpe works with companies who want to achieve better things through their people and is available to help you put into place your new HR model.  Contact her for more HR trade secrets and see more blogs by clicking here.

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