A study conducted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development in UK found that most CEOs consider talent related matters as their number one concern. These concerns range from engaging employees, optimizing performance, alignment to the business and capacity building. All of these are serious concerns which shape the future HR challenges that need to be addressed now.

There’s no doubting the fact that talent (and a collection of top talent) is what truly provides a company the competitive advantage they need to sustain their business. Sure you may have the hottest product or service in the market right now, but to be sustainable and remain the market leader you’ll need that product or service to mature, evolve or spin-off a new product or service. And to achieve this, you’ll need talent that has the vision and ambition to get your company there. According to an Accenture research “75 percent of HR executives say that ensuring their operating model provides a competitive advantage is a major challenge.”

Having sound HR practices, procedures and policies is just the fundamentals of any HR function. To be competitive HR must:

  • remain relevant,
  • aligned to the business,
  • adaptive to the changing needs of the business, and
  • aware that everything they do must focus around talent.

The inability to realize this could cost your company the horror or losing your talent and not having a solid leadership pipeline. Though the impact of this would be felt a few years from now, acting now on these future HR challenges could save your company from the inability to meet their goals.

How Adaptive Are You To Change

For decades the HR function has focused on optimizing its operations and practices around two aspects, as highlighted by the Bersin Impact Model:

  1. Effectiveness
  2. Efficiency

These have helped them to deliver on promises such as prompt recruitment, capacity building and cost efficiencies with respect to budgets. But HR executives are focusing too much on these two aspects and not merely enough time is being spent thinking about alignment to the business.

With constant changes that arise in any organization, from mergers to expansions, it’s imperative that HR strategies are constantly revisited and “realigned” to the business. Failure to do this would render the strategies, and even worse, the function itself, ineffective and irrelevant.

Are Your Strategies Focusing on Your Talent

Having sound practices alone isn’t going to cut it. Future HR challenges go far beyond providing employees satisfactory services. It’s probably wise to think along the lines that every strategy, every practice and every policy you design should focus on your talent. What that spells out to is transforming the function from a ‘service center’ to a ‘talent outcome driver’.

Just as a maturing company’s vision and mission changes and enlarges, so should be for the HR function. If you’re at a point where your HR function is mature, you need to now focus on transitioning it to the next level. Your focus will not be to just hire talent, but how swiftly you fill positions, how well you retain talent, how you groom, train and develop talent, and how effectively your strategies are contributing to and developing a strong leadership pipeline.

It’s safe to say that the days of HR being a ‘support’ and ‘back office’ function are far behind us. Unfortunately, a good number of company’s HR function is still seen as, and most likely functions as, a ‘payroll and personnel’ department. Much needs to be done to alter this perception and it starts with the function itself maturing and taking major steps forward. As a starting point, if you were to align yourself to the business goals and focus closely on your talent you’ll be recognized as a powerful ally to the business and be ready to take on future HR challenges.