How The Financial Crisis Has Transformed HR Into Strategic Leaders

Ron Jones

As economic uncertainty continues to play out across the world, the legacy of the Great Financial Crisis remains with us and drives the need for even greater levels of accountability for HR practitioners.

Much of what we still focus on was defined by a period of growth and certainty that shaped our policies and procedures in the period before 2009. The issues of talent recruitment, organizational culture, leadership, and employee engagement are still major drivers for the HR teams in all organizations. Somehow it seems that we have failed to grasp the fundamental shifts in how our economy operates.

There is no doubt that the way in which companies operate and engage with each other, both locally, nationally and internationally, will be profoundly influenced by the factors which are rapidly gaining attention: privacy and the role of the media; economic collapse of nation states; political collaboration on structural reform to address climate change; the integration of social media into every aspect of our communication; the development of fast moving communities of interest; and the changing role of government in partnering with third parties to deliver services.

These are just some of the forces creating a new paradigm for HRM. The potential for major transformation within organizations and the intersection with community, customer and supply chain relationships offers a huge opportunity for HR to reinvent itself as a major source of inspiration and innovation in leadership and management.

The following list includes steps that every HR leader needs to take to adapt to the changing environments:

1) Redefine the boundaries of our role – to recognize that our focus is building and generating strategic renewal whilst simultaneously integrating with the diverse communities in which we operate.

2) Be the owners and drivers of the brand that reflects a commitment to service towards staff, customers, suppliers and the community.

3) Be recognized professionally. We need to set standards for HR practitioners and model our commitment to this by only appointing HR managers and practitioners who have a level of standing within our various professional bodies.

4) Take ownership of the competencies required to work successfully at a strategic level. We need to be stronger advocates within University degree and post-graduate programs for a more robust approach to strategic HRM.

5) Be the thought leaders on internal and external factors impacting on how our organizations operate. We need to use our knowledge and networking to highlight global trends and maintain a high level of vigilance on workforce issues.

6) Build internal trust that allows us to challenge CEOs and Boards when we believe that the actions of the organization run counter to the interests of the people we employ and whom we wish to employ. We need to avoid the claims that we are only there to serve the bidding of senior managers. We must ensure that we have the trust of those whose interests we represent . This begins with developing a new standard of professionalism and our own code of conduct.

The role of the HR function has dramatically changed in just a few short years. Where will HR be as a profession in another three?