The future is bright for People & Culture.

What Every HR Leader Needs To Read.

Business is about people.

I was at the TEDxSydney recently with the theme of IMPRINT. The talks that made an impression on me were those that connected most to my humanity – topics around equality, storytelling, and even love. They were inspiring subjects on a TED platform but I wondered how many of these topics make it to boardroom tables. It made me think when we come to work we still leave so much of our humanity at home (or at TED!) 

This is confirmed by The World Economic Forum Workforce Report, which states a fifth of workers globally planned to quit in 2022. Whether these numbers are as high as this, it should be a cause for concern for every business. The report cites money and increased pay as one way businesses can retain employees. But we know money will never be enough and it certainly isn’t a long-term solution. Job fulfillment and the ability to be one’s true self at work were ranked second and third among employees considering a job change.

It reminded me once again that business is 100% about people – products and services made for people by people. And people want to bring their whole self to work. They also want to bring more of themselves into their buying decisions. Everything else is an enabler.  

Why the HR Manager of the past is not the future.

I started out my career in marketing, before moving to sales and general management and now into the boardroom. The more senior I became the less time I spent on functional skills and the more focus I put into leading people and teams.  I have to say I thrived as a people leader. I found it rewarding to watch people in my team grow and experience success. It became clear to me that the only way to get sustained business results over a period of time was to have a people-first approach.

This meant spending a lot of time with my HR colleagues, many of which became friends beyond work. From recruitment to conducting performance reviews, developing talent and being a good sounding board in tough conversations, I found HR leaders to be invaluable in helping me become an effective people leader. 

As if they could see the winds of change coming, the company I worked for evolved their titles from HR Managers to HR Business Partners. More than being administrators of human capital, this name change signified the opportunity for HR to work alongside other functional and operational leaders to drive success. 

The move to People & Culture.

Over time, I found the business partnering I was doing with HR was having a positive influence on culture. And while culture is one of those tough things to measure, you know when you have a good one.  I found more than employee engagement, my team thrived when they were able to link the quality of their work to business results and importantly purpose.

Interestingly the 2022 Global Culture Report by O.C. Tanner encourages organisations to revisit employee engagement measures if the goal is business success.

“A near-singular focus on employee engagement has distracted organisations from what matters more: the production of great work. Research shows employees and leaders relate to engagement through the quality of their work. Plus, the behaviors and practices associated with great work are more specific and easier to define, measure, and train. They’re also more reliable and predictive of business success because they directly affect business outcomes.”

To measure great work shows the deepening role HR needs to have in organisations.  Functional leaders cannot do it alone. More than administration and even business partnering, HR can have a powerful influence on business growth and company culture. Some companies are getting this right renaming HR to become the People & Culture department.

The future for People & Culture.

This is a time not to take workers for granted. Yet many companies risk doing so by not paying attention to what people seek, which is personal fulfillment and meaning at work.

It’s also a time to review old measures that don’t line up with what makes people feel valued and motivated to bring out their best performance.

This calls for HR roles to evolve even further in unlocking the success of a company’s greatest asset, its people. I believe the future is the brightest it’s ever been for People & Culture.  Roles will evolve to enable companies to be more purpose-driven, benefit from real-time performance and the intentional creation of a diverse workforce.  AI and people analytics will of course be powerful enablers.

We are already seeing HR roles evolving to incorporate diversity & inclusion specialists. Future roles will encompass the management of the employer brand, employee experience design, talent sourcing specialists, workplace and skills design, wellness coaches, human tech specialists, cyber-security experts and more personalised people development and high-performance coaching.

It’s an exciting time for People & Culture leaders formerly known as HR.  I believe they have the opportunity to bring an insightful perspective into the decision making table to shape the thriving businesses of the future.  

If you work in the People & Culture space and find this inspiring, I’d love to hear from you on LinkedIn or book in a chat with me.

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