In the big outside world, HR managers sometimes still have the image of being less than dynamic pen pushers: designing the occasional job advert, reading CVs, conducting interviews now and again, maybe even receiving resignations and dealing with holiday requests of course. This is how many external people imagine the job of a human resources manager to be. And there are indeed still some companies whose HR department comprises a former tax advisor employed for payroll.
New Challenges for HR Managers
Of course this has little to do with reality. The term 'human resources' already implies that the job involves considerably more than administration. Since senior executives increasingly regard employees as a company resource critical for its success, rather than simply a cost factor, HR management has become a key strategic discipline. Digitalisation, globalisation and changing employee expectations are causing radical changes in HR. They have given HR managers a completely new job profile. The changes are particularly noticeable in the following areas:
From Personnel Administrator to Strategist
HR is becoming strategically more important in organisations. Finding and keeping skilled staff requires both a holistic approach and individual solutions - from recruitment to career planning. In future, HR professionals will need to manage and support an even more diverse range of issues. The challenge will be in meeting employees individual expectations, whilst still assembling a cohesive workforce made up of many individuals.
Process Automation / New Areas of Work
HR mangers will continue to experience a shift in their responsibilities. Personnel offices are not exempt from automation and many administration tasks and standard processes will be increasingly performed with the help of technology. As a result, HR staff will take on more consultancy and support tasks. New responsibilities are also appearing. Companies operate globally not just through exports - locally based employees also need to be supported by the 'home base'. As change managers in personnel, HR professionals will need to support on-going organisational changes and market adjustments.
Managing Demographic Risks
Demographic change continues to be one of the key challenges for HR in ensuring long-term company development. A changing age structure, skills shortages and higher retirement ages require forward-looking personnel planning: and an answer to the question of how to retain older, and increasingly more mobile, high performers. In this context, HR professionals are becoming managers of demographic related HR risk, for example through talent management and successor planning.
Social Media Literacy
One of the most obvious changes to an HR manager's job is arguably in communication with target groups. Social media is now indispensable in recruitment and employer branding. Recruiters therefore need to be confident using Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat etc. You not only have to know which channels are most effective for reaching your target group: to come across as an authentic and interesting employer, you also need to provide appropriate content. Communication is no longer just one-sided and in one direction. Applicants expect quick feedback and, above all, on-going contact with the recruitment team.
The Integrated HR Manager
HR is increasingly becoming an important interface within the company. Close cooperation with other departments, in recruitment as well as training and development, is a prerequisite for finding and developing the right talent. To understand exact needs and requirements, HR staff are expected to be familiar with the various divisions and departments within the company; and, ideally to have had some experience in them. What's more, for a well thought out recruitment campaign, HR managers must also be 'marketing' experts with close contact with their colleagues in the marketing department.
Radical changes in HR are completely changing the image we have of HR managers. The job is being redefined – away from that of administrative pen pusher to strategic all-rounder.
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