In the past few decades the HR function has evolved from an administrative function to being a strategic partner to the business. The struggle to be taken ‘seriously’ isn’t over, yet it’s now not as much of a struggle as business leaders have accepted that HR plays a pivotal role in the company. Through this HR evolution companies have seen healthier work environments with an emphasis on developing the corporate culture, improved retention strategies, an engaged workforce and alignment of its employees to the company goals, amongst other things. You can say the HR function has been busy these past few decades to alter business leaders’ perception of its purpose.

So now HR leaders and teams are enjoying much deserved attention. Their opinions matter and are being heard. Their contributions are aligned to business goals and are visible. So everything’s right again for HR. The question is what now? Does the HR evolution end here? Is there something more?

Agility and Speed

HR may have earned the ear of the management but being a strategic thinker and an influencer isn’t enough. Your understanding of the business, how it functions and where it’s headed is just the first step that’ll allow you an audience on the management table. HR needs to reassure business leaders that it’s willing to do whatever it takes to ensure the company succeeds. And nothing contradicts that belief more than rigid processes and practices.

The market is dynamic with ever-changing consumer demands and technological trends. The needs and demands of your business leaders similarly changing. They can’t be held back by your set policies and procedures. The next HR evolution demands it to be agile and flexible to their changing needs. You’ll have to be creative, innovative and more importantly willing to change. And the change will have to be quick and the goals and targets the business leaders have to achieve cannot wait for you to adapt.

Analyze and Educate

There’s always an aura of confidentiality looming over HR. It’s as if everything HR does is hush hush and should be kept under the covers. Sure, there are some aspects of HR (remuneration being one) that require discretion, but there are useful information that HR manages which require analysis and sharing. Information that pertains to attrition, engagement, talent management, learning and development. All important information that need to be shared.

Thanks to enhancements in HR systems data collection has been greatly made easy. The analysis of that data becomes imperative as it can tell interesting stories about the company and its employees. And that’s precisely the education that the HR function needs to impart to the management. How the information is collated, shared, and delivered is essential as you want to attract as much scrutiny, trigger that much debate and draw out as much decision as possible from the management based on the analysis you present.

Flexible and Engaging

The common employee perception of HR rests in two statements – they process salaries and if you’re called by HR to discuss something, it’s never good. The HR function has spent decades trying to position itself in the minds of employees as an ally, yet it falls short of it, for the most part.

Engaging employees is fundamental. It’s even more important now with the rise of social media and tools such as Glassdoor that can easily stain (or boost) your employer brand. There’s no doubt in the fact that in the coming years HR evolution will focus on altering employees’ perception of what it’s all about by creating more meaningful relationships with them. Along the way HR will have to be even more innovative and flexible in its strategies, particularly in the areas of benefits, retention and reward. Companies that ‘follow’ market best practices will face challenges and those that ‘lead’ the market in these areas will enjoy successes through a deeply engaged and happier workforce.

The HR function has come a long way from the days where it was just ‘supporting’ the business. Today it’s earned its place a strategic ally to the business. But, you can’t rest on this achievement alone. Today, more than ever, as we discuss challenges with diversity, remuneration and talent management the next HR evolution is fast becoming a necessity. Companies and HR professionals who are quick to address these challenges will benefit greatly and see their success skyrocket based on the strength of their human resources.