The Sustainable Workforce or the Death of HR?

Sustainable workforce, Re-inventing HR, HR consulting, Small Business Management Consulting

For HR to be a meaningful contributor to business strategy, it will have to evolve. Currently, the function appears to be content with waning influence, as it bears the burden of increasing compliance and process; and the longer it submits, the more difficult it will be to change.

Those in HR will be aware of the numerous conferences and associations that compete for their attention. They make no bones about being “Human Resource” gatherings without defining what exactly that is – no other profession focuses so hard on being so umm non–specific! People don’t go to conferences on engineering. Engineers are mechanical or electrical and practice without feeling the need to be ‘all things’ engineering.

There’s no handy verb that describes what the HR function does e.g. selling, accounting or manufacturing, which perhaps discourages specialism? There is compensation, OD, and recruitment, but these are generally subordinate to the lead HR position.

Consequently, ambitious HR leaders are coerced by the market, their organizations, and their profession into being generalists. While the marketplace distinguishes responsibilities, it does little to define overall expertise; this often leads businesses to throw anything people-related into the function, after all, no CEO wants more than one HR person reporting to them. This means that lead practitioners are expected to be masters of this universe, possessing detailed knowledge of an array of disciplines, techniques, products, and skills, without a uniform objective.

HR embraces digital networking perhaps more than other disciplines, and practitioners see nothing wrong in attempting a once-in-a-career project after talking to a few chums on the internet. Lives are not placed in danger or assets put at risk – so why not? For the most part, if HR gets things wrong nothing happens; at least nothing that anyone will notice, and certainly not immediately but the long term results may affect performance for years to come.

Employers often ask why they should pay top dollar for an experienced HR person, and then have to hire a consultant to complete projects that on balance are neutral or tend to destroy value rather than create it. HR is less likely to engage strategic external expertise than any other function.

It is easy to understand why HR functionality starts to be perceived as an expense, appearing to produce nothing tangible except low esteem amongst their number and inability to exert influence which when coupled with speaking in tongues feeds this perception! HR has its own self-made language (to aide self preservation?) and uses jargon that no one outside HR understands. You will know what I mean if you are in HR.

To combat this image, and pressured to appear busy HR initiatives are taken on that are often based on a business case (a ‘busyness’ case) of  competitive practice. These are usually a “flavor of the month” issue solution not uncommonly responding to challenges that don’t yet exist. Employers tend not to see the problem with this and are only too pleased that this (expensive) resource is fully engaged, which has created an industry of suppliers eager to nourish “busyness”. Social media fuels the fire with practitioners (like me) sharing their views (this article) on how HR leaders can best be keep busy!

Without a standard definition of role, HR professionals are constantly searching for the best-in-class model – how often do we come across HR colleagues engrossed in implementing a latest fad?

If the function is to meaningfully contribute to business strategy, it needs to radically rethink its role and respond to three frequently−leveled criticisms:

1. An Unwillingness to be Transformative

I recently had coffee with a contemporary who had spent a large part of her career in operations who had temporarily assumed the HR role to enable her to make time for other things going on in her life. (Why do we assume that HR is a place of less pressure than operations?). She decided to give up HR and we were reviewing what had driven her to that decision.

She confessed that operations considered HR to be the “No To” function; that is to say, the folks that came up with reasons why you shouldn’t or couldn’t adopt the course you wanted to; in essence a function to be consulted, and then worked around.

The opportunity to lead the group seemed perfect; an opportunity to try and add greater purpose to a function perceived not to be at the forefront of business strategy was too good to pass up.

She never really felt one of the team; she had no HR designation and the HR team consequently felt there was nothing she could teach them – she was temporary and to be tolerated. While they were positive and collegial, they conceded that what she was asking of them was not aligned with their professional training – she, in turn, felt like a Stockholm syndrome victim, and over time felt herself beginning to drink the Kool-Aid.

Here was a strong and successful operations leader, comfortable with change, trying her utmost to lead HR in a different business oriented direction. She was dealing with smart, energetic people who were mired in compliance and administration – seemingly content with doing what was expected of them and what their professional training had led them to.

2. A Penchant for Risk Mitigation

At an HR leader (industry and consulting) network meeting to review candidate screening systems and the various available automated solutions, participants described using one, two, or even three techniques or products to test candidate fit with their corporate cultures.

Every approach to assessment examined the candidate profile with little or no evaluation of the potential for positive chemistry between the candidate and supervisor, and thus, the potential for upside value. The ultimate decision to hire in most cases, rested with the supervisor but the potential of added value was sacrificed for the perceived greater benefit of risk mitigation. My friend John Burdett refers to this identification of synergy as “HR artistry,” and promotes this as an important function of HR.

As organizations strive to improve engagement, mitigating risk associated with fit is of course, important. A poor fit will negatively impact productivity, while a fit that complements the skills of the supervisor could add value. Some of the screenings attempted this, but on the whole most were dominated by risk avoidance. Missing was a belief in the whole and that it should produce more than the sum of the individual parts. It was less risky for HR to adopt its expected and easier role of identifying candidate problems than arguing for potential accretion.

HR’s role should not only be to identify potential lost opportunities resulting from overly cautious (or and equally damaging, reckless) hiring, but also to focus on the sustainability of the organization through succession. HR have the skills to address accretive fit and to assert this view can be discomforting in the face of resistance but not to do so is what colleagues expect.

The function has a reputation for suggesting to others what is wrong with their business but avoids self-assessment, working on the assumption that it is everyone else that needs to change. No activity is immune from progress and now the time has come for HR if it wishes to remain relevant although I seem to have been saying that for a long time now.

3. Unease with Innovation

Janet Wood Global HR Lead at SAP wrote an engaging article for Canada’s Globe and Mail recently entitled “The Death of HR,” that made a powerful argument for technology leading to more HR jobs as human interaction became more rather than less important in the age of the machine. Technology improves the quality of data and the quality of decision making; however, at least for the time being, decision making still involves people.

I recently spoke at a resource conference where industry leaders and entrepreneurs reviewed their view of the future. Amongst the 100 attendees, there was one other HR consultant and not one internal HR specialist. What a missed opportunity to exchange views with the industry’s architects.

Organizational sustainability is the ability to respond as the future unfolds. While some individuals can exhibit innovative behavior for an organization, creativity and experimentation must be a state of mind and be embedded in the culture. Employees need to be able to observe leaders testing alternative (albeit risk controlled) approaches and be motivated and rewarded for following suit.

A primary function of HR is to facilitate and monitor workforce preparedness for change. A key component is keeping up with industry expectations. Without this insight how can HR stimulate colleagues to anticipate and adapt? Are HR practitioners so bogged down with what is expected that they are unable to take time out with the industries leaders to brainstorm the unexpected?


These are just three examples of how HR appears comfortable accepting a role defined by the  expectations of others, and of course, it’s own training. A function increasingly accepting of more compliance and process will become a support function unable to transform itself, let alone an organization.

Technology has made day to day people management a sophisticated activity but not one that lends itself to being associated with talent strategy. Employee service is a critical task and a significant contributor to higher engagement and thus productivity; functions that have become recognized as HR’s primary purpose but increasing proficiency in these activities contributes to HR being kept out of the Company’s strategic process.

Stimulating management to effect organizational design strategy should be a primary role of HR. Managing service will become more onerous as operations become more dependent on analytics for decision making but is a significant misuse of HR skills.

HR has become a two-headed creature that can’t decide which road to take seeing a purpose in day to day tasks that logically should be outsourced or located in a Shared Service function but being nervous about committing itself to  a much bigger contribution through organizational sustainability and preparing the business for the future. To be functionally strategic, while at the same time delivering excellent administrative service, is next to impossible.


I lectured at a management school supporting a professor teaching a course on cultural assessment and integration. Students learned the theory and from me heard about the practical aspects of integrating international organizations. On one occasion I was flattered to be asked by two students how they could go about having an HR career like the one I had enjoyed.

After some thought I came to realize that this would be highly unlikely starting out in an HR function today. The constraints attaching to the profession based on how it is perceived would not enable engagement with an employer in the way I had been lucky enough to do. I spent a career in HR working largely outside the profession!

My start was as an accountant working with a well-known institution in the UK which concluded when I was told that I had reached an organizational zenith, seven years prematurely following which I determined that a stable but slow calling wasn’t really for me. The management training and accounting proved invaluable for the compensation, benefits, mobility, and M&A work that followed and from that point decisions were made through the lens of the financial statements.

I joined a Canadian company in London with HR responsibility for Europe whose global market had collapsed, and only radical action was going to save the organization − HR was not to be excluded. The company had made the largest profit in Canadian corporate history and the next year, the biggest loss.

My role was negotiating with unions, where necessary, to remove expense and liberate surplus from benefit plans globally. We achieved many firsts including using benefit contribution holidays to provide wage increases, accelerating the recognition of pension surpluses and the retrenchment of medical plan expenses. These actions, despite taking several years to negotiate with union representatives, lawyers, and regulators contributed millions to the turnaround and paved the way for the relocation of the company and transformation into a major player in a different industry.

This period in my career was more beneficial than any amount of training that I could have undertaken – it was in fact as I look back, an MBA on steroids. A worked for a young charismatic CEO who demanded loyalty and who was brave enough to appoint younger managers to huge portfolios. Years later I asked him why he had not been concerned with the significant risk associated with neophytes in these important roles. He responded that the company was only going to survive with radical new methods and none of those that I appointed had the experience (or the reputations to worry about) to say “it couldn’t be done”. He was right; necessity proved to be the mother of invention.

This expertise and international orientation attracted a large consulting firm in Canada to ask me to lead their international unit. I learned two important lessons there; first the value of time and the importance of clear communication. These, and the previously mentioned accounting perspective, are traits that have never left.

Next up was with a North American industry consolidator operating in three segments. I was attracted to the “in the moment” customer service work that they were undertaking. I integrated numerous acquisitions and from there joined RJR Nabisco in Switzerland to help spin off the international tobacco operations. We knew that there were only two potential buyers; one who would keep the brands and fire the staff and the second, a  Japanese company who needed both the brands and people to advance their global aspirations. We knew we had to convince the Japanese Company to buy us or we were all out of work. These early experiences formulated how I began to think about the purpose of HR. I recognized very quickly that for a business to thrive, that the function had to be part of the solution. To endure a takeover, we had to convince the right company to acquire us and how we could add value to survive bankruptcy HR had to contribute savings. I learned quickly to look for the business role that human capital needed to play.

This becomes crystal clear of course when survival depends upon it. When the business is doing well it is much harder to convince others that those are grey clouds are on the distant horizon. I wasn’t much help to the two students other than convincing them to focus above all else on their employer’s business at all times and not the latest HR fad.


An entrepreneur develops a widget, an app, discovers a mineral deposit, a service or process that the market wants. She organizes people into jobs and the jobs into a hierarchy, motivating and managing performance and their training to be able to meet this demand. There’s nothing more important than people. The leader and the team are essential to one another in getting the offering to market.

If the offering proves to have legs and is scalable, the organizational hierarchy will require adjustment, the necessary skills will change, and processes must migrate away from those of a startup. These are all actions aimed at creating a sustainable workforce.

At around 100 employees the founder begins to realize she can’t keep everyone’s names in her head and that people administration and compliance are becoming a burden. Assistance is required, someone who can help navigate compliance, maintain records, deal with queries, recruitment, and exits; keeping the boss away from the minutiae and allowing the business to stay on point. These activities are universally viewed as HR and various organizations can provide the training that enables individuals to perform this perfunctory role. The business’ leader or leaders continue to be responsible for identifying needed skills, recruiting for values and managing engagement with everything else to do with people falling to HR.

As the enterprise leaves its start-up roots behind, its path becomes clearer. Leadership practice has been established to enhance velocity toward business goals but there’s recognition amongst the top team that more is required in managing their people but this time the role is less clear and requires expertise in areas other than administration and compliance. An expert is needed, who is influential and able to collaborate in preparing the workforce for the next market phase.

This role could not be more distant from the HR practitioner described earlier, and yet it is still described as an HR role. A better job description might be:

“The Maintenance of a Sustainable Workforce” 

Constantly facilitating improvement in the way the leadership team leads; introducing and improving
techniques, approaches, and methodologies to deploy strategy, reinforce culture, and track performance.
A unique function customized to the needs of the business.

Entrepreneurs often spend their entire working lives growing their business without the opportunity to work elsewhere, or witness how other organizations of any size manage their people. Defining his organization’s first talent management role, which often mimics in part his own role, is therefore challenging. No professional association teaches how an incoming HR leader might adapt to this function. Multi-generational family businesses recognize that talent management is their differentiation − even when the organization has grown beyond the founder’s direct influence.

In the absence of a clear workforce sustainability mandate, organizations will default to a definition of HR based on contemporary practice. The role of HR must be a unique capability within the organization and within the competitive industry if the business is to thrive. The durability and velocity of a business depend not on the product, software or service delivered but on how people are organized and motivated to outperform.

“Our people are our most important asset” is a well-worn mantra in which the origins of the need to be “best in class” can be found. With an HR role positioned often at the top of an organization and in the absence of it having a workforce sustainability mandate, it is not difficult to imagine how an organization might look to others to help define what their own model should look like.

Companies survive without workforce sustainability functionality but adding this capability with the incumbent allowed the freedom to act will improve performance and significantly add to business value.

Where the evolution of HR goes wrong is in misdiagnosis of the problem. Often a business will recognize that it has people challenges, but not the cause of these. For example, a succession or incentive plan might be needed but instead of instigating a project to remedy these needs the solution is incorrectly identified as “we need a senior HR leader”; a paintbrush for doing fine script. Without a clear, broad-based mandate the appointment will not solve the problem and deliver poor ROI.

An ambitious professional appointed to the role will figure out how to fix the problems quickly and probably a few more besides, but they will not be allowed to hire internal or external expertise when needed. Why hire outside help when we have invested in our own major HR role? The nature of the challenge was not understood and a precise mandate for the role not developed.

The HR lead is now faced with learning how to undertake this specialist task herself or abandoning it and, as a consequence it dawns on her that the expectation is that she is perceived to be busy and that doesn’t mean being necessarily engaged in research, thought, coaching and strategy development.

New HR programs are mostly justified on the grounds of competitive practice. While that’s true for pay, most other things should first align with the company’s management system and culture to help differentiate the organization. The same succession, recruitment, and development programs as everyone else has adopted will make a company a replica rather than unique.

When HR is the sponsor the management team feels less able to ask about the impact on engagement. There needs to be a constant ebb and flow between the leadership team and HR. They must be interdependent. HR never taking the place of the business leader(s), works to anticipate and monitor talent needs, culture, and performance.

In this not uncommon scenario cultural ownership will start to drift away from the leadership team and find its way to HR. Any organization-wide initiative, no matter who the sponsor, needs the robust challenge of the other members of the leadership team who must circle back after an implementation and review its direct impact and contribution. Otherwise over time, leadership becomes disconnected and that will silently threaten engagement and consequently productivity leaving the management team wondering why that has happened. HR needs to be constantly alert to this potential and the position that the organization can find itself in. HR flattering though it is must resist being the default owner of the organization’s culture.

Large companies are prone to this when the HQ’s HR function deploys standard policies and programs to diverse multi-location operations. The damage, however, is thankfully often limited as local managements recognise the danger and create workarounds, or expend sufficient energy pushing back to thwart a disastrous workplace policy being implemented.

Gortex and Magna never allow plants to become more than about 100 people to enable management to define the needs of their local teams. GE and IBM, on the other hand, defined their differentiation through superior uniform skill sets or methodologies that eventually proved challenging.

Few organizations would articulate that HR had responsibility for the Sustainability of the Workforce; most HR folks while aspiring to this functionality, would struggle to identify an organization that even embraces such a philosophy.

HR is often a dumping ground for anything “people” and HR, for the most part, is happy with that role as it helps in their efforts to appear relevant and busy. The organizational equivalent of “ I am here to provide you with the answer that you want to hear”. Professionally, the function is training the next generation to be generic factotums, unable to align their skills with the achievement of business goals − whose output will be identical to that of other employers of a similar size including their competitors! Why do we not think that this is a problem?

I have previously written about the changing nature of the workforce and why employers are facing a perfect storm as millennials replace “baby boomers” bringing new values and expectations to the workplace. There will be fewer people available to hire and employers striving to find ways to increase productivity in a low inflationary environment will continue to pursue employee engagement.

That means more stringent selection of values and fit from a smaller talent pool. But hold on! Those boomers it turns out are not leaving after all – they are working longer, retiring later or returning with non-traditional employment arrangements. The new workforce wants to work connectedly and not necessarily in the office. Employers are coming to terms with analytics and how these lead to better-informed decision making. On the near horizon can be seen design thinking, artificial intelligence, and 5G; and, in the distance, robotics and blockchain.

HR has faced similar challenges before but never so many and even if you don’t buy the notion that their impact is imminent they are closely lined up behind one another. There has never been a more important time for the Coach in Chief, the Head of Sustainable Workforce, or if you must, HR to strut their stuff.


1. ANALYSIS – Establish first the criticality to the organization; how much and what is HR going to have to do to pull off a transformation in the way it utilizes human capital. For example, what is the level of discussion or activity around workforce sustainability; does the organization understand its importance and recognize the need for a facilitative role. What is the resistance − apathy or outright objection?

What is the level of exposure to threats such as generational shift? How open is the culture to different ways of working? How strong is management’s commitment to engagement? What is the likely impact of technology and does the succession plan reflect this? How are decisions made and does the organization live its strategy and continually adjust for performance in achieving it? In other words, how robust is the people system in supporting business goals? These questions will change from industry to industry, product or service, but timing and vulnerability will be unique and inform priorities.

This assessment cannot be arrived at by comparison to others. Competitive practice or best in class do not figure in this review. Some conclusions may be similar, but they will relate to different strategies in the pursuit of different outcomes. There needs to be a customized functionality to first survive, and second to beat the competition. This will not be the same for any other organization.

Talk to the management team and probe their openness toward a strategic approach to HR management. The best friend of HR should be Finance, working together to develop metrics to monitor the results of effective people management and help the organization become more prescriptive.

Ram Charan in his book, “Talent Wins,” talks about a company’s “crucial decision nodes”, the places or roles in the organization where important choices are made that drive value – and often it is not those with the fanciest titles. This high-leverage group might include designers, scientists, salespeople, up-and coming leaders, influencers, integrators, and support staff tucked away in unglamorous corners of the company. Jony Ive, Apple’s chief design officer, is obviously one, as is Steven Nissen, chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic. But so, is the navigation team at United Parcel Service, whose software helps drivers avoid left-hand turns saving the company millions of dollars on gas.

These are the pivot points in an organization that HR needs to uncover. They are where soft due diligence is increasingly conducted in mergers. As many as 80% of business combinations fail to deliver promised synergy with the causes relating mostly to people. Identifying these roles is to understand how value is created (or destroyed), and a key part of talent development, retention, and reward. Charan comments that Google famously reports that it rewards “unfairly” in situations where people (doing the same work and in the same pay scale) make a disproportionate difference in contribution. Hierarchy becomes less important in a meritocracy where opportunities are created for the most talented people.

Those who have never thought about the function in this way are going to say this is an analysis for a management consultant; but even a well-researched function designed in a vacuum by an outsider will not get to the nuances and sensitivities of an organization’s unique circumstance. The research is an important part of the HR leader’s journey in understanding the role that HR needs to play. A management team that insists on the analysis being performed by an outsider is already saying something!

2. ORGANIZATION – Next is to recast the function and the skills needed to reorient the focus toward workforce sustainability. The challenges and organizational complexity will inform the functionality − but undoubtedly the list will include the following capabilities:

Talent Planning 

  • Succession
  • Skills Mapping
  • Securing, retaining and developing


  • Culture
  • Values
  • Communication
  • Feedback
  • Incentives
  • Coaching


  • Interpreting
  • Influencing


  • Analytics
  • Proxies
  • Improvement

These activities are typically not found in the traditional HR landscape with this orientation and some will fall to the function lead. They all, however, need to be heavily integrated and together comprise the means to workforce sustainability.

Talent, Engagement, and Performance are the three logical support roles requiring inquisitiveness,
analytical skills, and the ability to communicate conceptually at the highest level. They should influence and design process and administration while being separated from it.

Readers could be forgiven for thinking that this outline of activity appears similar to what used to be called Organization Development, or OD, but this is a much broader role with a wider time horizon responsible for stimulating the executive team into consideration of workforce sustainability and the organizational steps necessary to achieve it.

There may be a reluctance to shed administration and compliance, duties that have come to be accepted as “HR” and they will be a distraction under a leader who should be spending most of her time on strategy; and besides, they consume too much energy. To do both well requires different skills; nevertheless, they will form the delivery mechanism for many of the programs that will stem from sustainability.

HR analytics is playing a bigger role in assessing behavior and will bring HR closer to the skills of Finance. The risk, however, is that HR becomes a data farmer in itself.

Understanding how to design insightful analytical studies will be a key function of the strategic group including the identification of proxy indicators. The production and harvesting will be best left to others.

For example, how many organizations have the curiosity, or capacity, to examine how effective their onboarding program is in contributing to retention or accelerating productivity? Why invest in a program if it cannot quantitatively demonstrate its benefit?

External experts should be used for specialty tasks – the same experience cannot be acquired so why try  – the outcome will never match someone who performs this task once per month. What the outside expert will lack is the context of your organization; the knowledge to predict the ramifications of one solution over another, the unforeseen effects on behavior, etc. Programs cannot be developed in a  vacuum and HR is the conduit for fashioning them for optimal benefit.

There are often sensitive or perceived confidential (e.g. Board support, executive pay etc.) duties that fall to the most senior HR person. While these may be flattering and considered important for career and influence, they are usually administrative in nature. They are not why the senior HR role exists. Compartmentalize them and performed them well using minimal personal effort.

3. TRANSITION – In researching this article I spoke with the Head of HR at a significant global
employer who argued that it was a question of who defines the identity of HR. HR would like to be the one to do that, but considering itself a service allows the user to define what that will be. Some CEO’s will recognize the broader role of HR and utilize it strategically, while others will think people-strategy is their role or are too busy to give it the attention it warrants.

HR leaders find their level at the point of least resistance, somewhere between reactive and influential reflecting the mix of the CEO’s outlook, the business of the organization, and self-preservation. Many organizations still believe that they want a Personnel department having never seen the advantages of the alternative. There are few opportunities for HR to learn, or observe, a strategic mandate in action.

Nonetheless, the executive responsible for people needs to view workforce sustainability as their prime role. A CEO who understands this or at least who is malleable to the idea is the best scenario. Others may be more challenging and take longer to win over.

Practitioners may find their way blocked by traditional thinking or worse, an executive team blinded by “adequate performance”. Here the CFO should be won over first and be HR’s best ally. I have been working with several groups of CFOs who want to be more predictive about performance. They realize that they tend to steer the organization by looking through the rear and side view mirrors (the income statement and balance sheet) and consequently miss the deer in the headlights. If HR fails to grasp this
role, the Finance function will.

Don’t assume that the Board will help and identify the need for sustainability through cascading talent management demands. Boards focus on strategy and governance and, by virtue of time available, typically limit talent discussions to CEO succession. Waiting until the Board finally does figure this out may take so long that their first question is why has management (HR) missed this? Once underway,  however, HR should try and elevate board awareness of the talent risks associated with achieving the corporation’s strategy.

No one said this was going to be easy. Launching this refreshed perspective may not go as hoped and advocates need to be prepared for setbacks. There will be eyes rolling in heads when workplace sustainability is first raised − and it will be a judgment call whether executive colleagues are going to be most receptive to the big reveal, or a progressive approach, subtly changing the language and the level of discussion.

The friction from a contentious or contrarian perspective may result in being tempted not to attempt the change at all and to settle back into the role that is expected! We have all seen avoidance and deferral. If HR wants the recognition of being a strategic contributor, then it has to step up and overcome the obstacles.

Start the conversation with clear, jargon free strategic content and position views that demand further exploration recognizing that HR may have information not available to the executive team and vice versa.

4. GETTING STARTED – A sustainable workforce is about identifying and filling roles when a company doesn’t have the skills or the innovative proficiency to survive and thrive. The role of HR is to help management identify and articulate these gaps, recruit those profiles, and integrate them successfully into the organization; simultaneously ensuring that the top team is held to account for constantly creating the next employee generation.

Talent-driven organizations launch new strategic initiatives only when they have the right people on hand, nimbly matching the right talent with the project even before considering the financial planning. Harvard Business Review refers to the failure to do this as the “Strategy to Execution Gap”, and suggests that overcoming this leads to superior performance. HR can play a major role in this endeavor by:

Defining Culture – Identifying the unique characteristics that led to past success and encouraging leaders to spend more time engaging the organization in a discussion about enablers and future barriers.

Organizing Resources – Optimizing talent by reviewing skill requirements, development, succession,  and the organization’s ability to attract and retain. Can we get from “here” to “there” with what we have or do we need something different?

Living Values – A culture does not occur by accident or overnight. A shared understanding of the values and the organization’s superior capabilities reinforces culture. Successful organizations consistently reinforce behaviors that lead to success and support them with incentives.

Systemising Strategy – Periodic performance against financial and operational metrics associated with strategic goals should be reviewed and, as appropriate, resources and behavior modified. Understanding constraints will cause the organization to be more agile at course-correcting as the environment changes.

Contributing to strategy, monitoring performance in achieving it, protecting culture, and establishing talent supply are key functions of the sustainable workforce that will inform the future mandate of HR. An organization that depends on its current strengths will not outperform in the long run − management teams that constantly monitor culture and facilitated by HR, challenge human capital capability will.

Whether the influences that are forecast to impact the workplace result in the death of HR or its reinvention remain to be seen. But why wait until the dark clouds arrive? Managing the sustainability of an organization workforce whatever the future has in store will lead to better performance no matter what the circumstances, than otherwise would be the case.

Read in original format

Global Benefits Vision May 2018

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