HR’s Huge Responsibility for the Workplace of the Future

hr's huge responsibility for the future of work

In the online publication SiliconRepublic, I read an interview with Ali Rayl, the global head of customer experience for Slack, the global online messaging system. Although the article was interesting, what really caught my eye was the quote in the title. It read “Designing the future workplace is a big responsibility.” Author John Kennedy did a great job getting Ms. Rayl to discuss her background and how she became the global head of customer experience, but that quote jumped out at me and I thought, “that applies to HR today.”

No Longer Letting Things Happen

For most of my career in HR, the major complaint was “We have no opportunity to be proactive, we are always reacting to what happened yesterday.” Although we have made great strides in being strategic partners and contributors, for many practitioners, the day-to-day work they do is still focused on being reactive. Unfortunately, that is no longer going to be sufficient for the future, even for the small company. The HR department of one needs to be as active in helping design their future workplace as does the CHRO for a large enterprise.

What Is Required

In the HR material for both certifications, we study environmental scanning. The current acronym used is PESTLE, which stands for:

  • Political
  • Economic
  • Social
  • Technological
  • Legal
  • Environmental

There are multiple acronyms, as I mention in Four Ways to do Environmental Scanning. These include DEGEST (Demography, Economy, Government, Environmental, Society, Technology) and the Four Factors of Resources, Technology, Demographics, and Governance. The older version of PESTLE was STEEPLE. That is the one I use, it is just easier to remember. The important issue is what things are looked at in the analysis.

Not Just a Broad Stroke

If you are trying to plan for your workplace you have to do more than just look at general trends. Millennials in the workforce is not a trend, it is a reality. What types of workers do you want? What backgrounds work best? Where do you find them? What appeals to them socially? Financially?

What kinds of education do workers in your company need? Are you willing to accept non-traditional educational routes? Are you willing to provide training?

What is happening technology-wise in your industry? What retraining will be needed? Which jobs will be lost? Which will be transformed?

What about the economics of your area/industry? Going to potentially lose workers to the new company in town? What needs to be done to avoid that?

No Longer Just Day-To-Day

These are just some of the questions that HR needs to be asking. Everyone can play a part. You can divide and conquer by assigning some responsibility to “be futuristic” to everyone in the department. Playing catch to yesterday is no longer going to be sufficient. You need to sit down with the CEO and have that “strategic” talk and explain your perception of your role in HR. Bargain for some additional resources by explaining how important it is to the company’s competitive stance. Regardless of whether you are successful in getting help or not, working on this will help you improve your position in the company and make you more competitive in the marketplace.

Give it a try.

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Mike Haberman

Mike Haberman

Michael (Mike) D. Haberman, SPHR is a consultant, speaker, writer of HR Observations, and co-founder of Omega HR Solutions, Inc. After over 30 years in HR he got tired of the past and focuses here on the Future of HR. Connect with Mike.

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