HR at the Crossroads

HR at the Crossroads

Data Detectives or WFH Facilitators, futuristic HR roles are emerging out of new necessities

Of all the things that the global COVID-19 pandemic has done – or undone, one thing is for certain: our lives will probably never be the same again. It has changed our existing perceptions of a workplace and completely flipped it on his head – and in doing so, has redefined job roles and requisite skill-sets. Several major conventional areas of the workspace are set to see drastic overhauls in the coming years. However, the one area which is set to lie at the centre of this storm, and truly facilitate the management of (arguably) a firm’s most powerful resource, is going to be Human Resources.

The pandemic has opened up several avenues for Human Resources and is set to make it the central pillar in managing the human capital across sectors, firms and verticals. Historically, even with the data revolution hitting most aspects of a business, HR has usually been left wanting. But the signs were clear. So much so, that the popular US television series The Office even prophesied a predilection towards a more human-centric approach to business by assigning two co-managers at the same branch: one to look after the daily functioning – the executive; the other to envision the ‘big picture’ and manage people – HR.

HR leaders of tomorrow would need to optimise how people work, learn and collaborate. But traditional HR philosophies and roles would not be adequate for the emerging new normal. Hence, we would soon be seeing several novel job functions in the HR department – roles for the future which no HR professional had ever imagined. Let us examine two of them.

HR Data Detectives

Every ‘big picture’ that enterprises conceive today is data-centric. Like most other job functions today, data is set to lie at the centre of almost all future endeavours. To ensure a high-functioning workspace and streamline productivity, HR professionals must ensure that adequate data is collected, mined, cleaned and analysed. A Cognizant HR report (2020) on futuristic HR roles envisions that the HR Data Detective of the future will engage not only in classical human capital management, but also “HR information system data, employee surveys, time-tracking and learning management systems, benefits portals, compensation and succession planning.”

Essentially, a data detective conducts investigations before any data cleansing or data preparation happens. For this, they analyse both data and metadata to reach the crux of information hidden within.

The ideal HR Data Detective of the future would be someone with in-depth technical understanding of structured and unstructured data architectures: therefore, candidates with a background in data science would be preferred. They will also have to ensure complete data integration among all branches of HR, as well as facilitate appropriate and ethical use of data. But of course, like every other HR role,data detectives also need to work well with people, and communicate technicalities across organisation in a simplified, non-jargon format.

WFH Facilitator

Remote working is now a necessity induced by the COVID-19 pandemic.With almost every industry across the world anticipating this to continue indefinitely, what we are essentially looking at is a drastic transformation in not only inhow we work, but also where we work. Working from home is set to become the norm for the future. The primary problem with this for mostis the fact that this require massive adjustments in the way we conduct business.

Building an atmosphere of professionalism –something that a physical office entails –became difficult, and often impossible, to replicate in our homes. This calls for professionals who can facilitate this change by offering practical solutions, carry forward lessons learnt during the pandemic, optimise processes, and convert this into our primary workspace with an eye to the future.

And that, precisely, would be the role of the WFH Facilitators. They will ensure that processes and policies are properly tailored for remote work, and thus, for remote workers. Building a virtual reality suited for interaction and collaboration is set to be major challenge that will have to be overcome. Hence, analysing each organisation’s digital collaboration suite and using tools and technologies to the firm’s advantage in developing a work-like atmosphere at each worker’s home is going to crucial.

Forward thinking professionals who can strategize and execute the workings of a large sector of people in a remote culture (whilst maintaining high levels of productivity) is the objective. This role will require highly technologically-able individuals who can manage allocation, shipping and setting up of each employee’s WFH equipment. They would also be expected to ideate new HR policies that would embed WFH as a part of the new workers’ DNA. The facilitator must have an extremely well-rounded understanding of the entire firm’s operations, thereby allowing strong interdepartmental collaboration – with no room for ‘slacking off’ in your room!

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