Crossing the Chasm to the Future of HR

The other day wrote about the often-times frustrating disconnect between Conference HR and Real-World HR.  Shorthand version: Conference HR is where pundits, vendors and “thought” leaders exhort us to immediately start using AI and be disruptive. Real-World HR is where we have to put weekly reminders on the office refrigerator reminding employees to take their mold-filled Tupperware containers home by 4 PM on Friday or risk the weekly purge. 

It’s utopia vs. the daily grind. Fantasy vs. reality. Strategic business planning vs. coordinating the company picnic.

Or is it? 

Better question: does it have to be? 

Answer: no.

As HR professionals we’re consumers of the content showered down on us; all the advice and admonitions about what we should be doing. Yet we’re also story tellers and we need to share (with organizational leaders, our vendors, etc.) our reality; our wacky “you won’t believe it even if I tell you” stories. We’re dealing with people after all and even while things change (around us), the human aspects of our day-to-day work stay, not so shockingly, the same. I can recall, with startling clarity, my very first investigation into allegations of sexual harassment. Interestingly enough the most recent sexual harassment investigation I undertook was pretty similar. Decades apart. Post #MeToo and everything. #samesies

Plus, of course, as HR professionals it’s our responsibility to constantly scan the environment, look ahead, and prepare for the rapidly-changing future of work. We do need to have (a) our assumptions challenged and, occasionally, we do need to have (b) our asses kicked.  

And sometimes, the best way for either (a) or (b) to occur, is to take a journey to “Conference HR” land and pay attention with an open mind. We need to:  

  • Pay attention to trends (year over year). One great resource for this (which I talk up all the time) is Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends Report. Read it, digest it, and use it take a deeper dive into those areas you may be adding to your company’s HR Roadmap.
  • Explore areas outside of HR. Everything that’s happening in the world impacts our workplaces so be cognizant of things that are happening in politics, the economy, technology and general pop culture. Read Fast Company, TechCrunch, the Wall Street Journal and People. (really on the People thing).  
  • Advance our professional boundaries. If you’re a Benefits Specialist spend some time on webinars (or in conference sessions) designed for Recruiters. If you’re a Recruiter (in the US), brush up on the FMLA or ACA parameters. 
  • Up-Skill … OURSELVES. Don’t wait for a new corporate initiative to be the impetus for learning. Demo new HR tech products just for the fun of it. Take a class via Udemy. Volunteer to work with the Marketing Team on a branding initiative. 

It’s an old saying but a truism nonetheless; no one understands what it’s really like to work in HR unless they’ve worked in HR. That’s probably what becomes the most aggravating aspect when we’re faced with presenters or speakers, with no experience in our world, who talk about the stuff we know (viscerally! deep in our bones!) and inform us how and when to change.

But we can cross this chasm. We really can. When we keep learning – and telling OUR stories – we keep expanding the possibilities for the future of HR. A future WE have the power to choose for ourselves.

Our future. 


One thought on “Crossing the Chasm to the Future of HR

  1. This is great advice, Robin. I’d add informal benchmarking in order to develop a deeper understanding of an area. Beyond networking, developing relationships with people whose accomplishments you admire and asking them to share their insights and mistakes with you can be invaluable. Most successful new programs I’ve launched have been significantly improved by my access to people who’ve already “been there, done that”. You don’t need a 6-figure consulting engagement to pick up critical wisdom.

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