Can these 10 new HR rules change the future of business?

By Ashley Patterson 

May 6, 2019

We’re living in an era where businesses are transforming quicker than we can blink. New technologies like artificial intelligence are disrupting the way people work and live. And surviving and thriving in midst of all this change can be tricky for organizations.

It’s a wild world out there and the simple truth is that some organizations may not survive this period of change. In fact, half of today’s Fortune 500 is expected to turn over in the next ten years. Worrying about it causes uncertainty – and not only does human nature hate uncertainty, so do financial markets.

So, the question is, how can you thrive in this environment? How can you make sure your organization is the one that wins over competitors?

Read the guide to reducing skills shortages

Business survival is driven by people with the right skills

Regardless of your industry or offering, business survival comes down to people. Your company can have a great strategy, but if you don’t have the right talent with the right skills, you won’t be able to deliver results and make a profit. This is why CEOs rank an investment in people as the number one priority that could accelerate organizational performance.

Here’s the biggest shift that’s occurring in the midst of this period of disruption: the employee, or potential employee (candidate), has more choices and options than you do as a business. In a tight labor market, where the same skills are coveted by companies who previously didn’t compete across industry boundaries, employees have more power and choice. So, the mind shift is that you also need to think of what’s good for your people. What are their aspirations? Which skills do they want and need to acquire? What are the careers they want to pursue? How do you keep them engaged? Why should candidates choose to work for you instead of another company?

This isn’t an “HR issue” – it’s a business imperative. The way you’ve handled your people over the last many decades is not going to sustain you into the future. Building an engaged workforce for the future is all about skills and there are several areas where you may need to act differently:

  • Recruitment: How you recruit people to work for you
  • Development: How you train and enhance the careers of the people who currently work for you
  • Culture: How your organization operates internally (also known as culture)
  • Agility: How you apply technology and new ways of working to drive the transformation internally to ensure your company stays nimble externally (for customers)

The 10 new rules for HR

At Think 2019 earlier this year, Bob Schultz, general manager for IBM Watson Talent, laid out ten new rules for HR professionals. To act differently and succeed in this new era, it is critical to consider the following:

  1. It’s all about skills, not about jobs. Skills are foundational. They’re the new currency. To survive as a business, it’s critical to understand and develop the skills of today and tomorrow.
  2. Soft skills often trump hard skills. When you focus too much on past experience and hard skills, you may forget that what can matter most is whether someone is an enterprise thinker or a continuous learner or is comfortable with change. That’s often what really makes people successful in a job.
  3. You need a culture of internal mobility. If you think about the skills required for the most in-demand roles, you may find that your current workforce has 85 percent of what you need. It’s critical to get better at building and developing skills of existing employees.
  4. Your talent is in the driver’s seat. Shift your mindset from company-centric to talent-centric, to focus on the end-to-end experience you are delivering. People must feel they belong. Their aspirations matter. Only they can deliver the transformative products and services to your customers.
  5. Personalized experiences differentiate you. One-size fits all is no longer good enough. Differentiate your business by offering an engaging, personalized experience every step of the way – from recruitment, onboarding, learning, to career development and more.
  6. Culture defines success. Success hinges on changing the way people think and operate. How committed are they to your organization? How nimble and open are they to change? Do they feel they belong to your cause? It’s your job to foster this culture.
  7. AI powers the change. AI is not the destination, it’s the enabler. To fully achieve a new approach to talent, to truly sustain your businesses into the future, and to really leverage all the data and skills at your fingertips, you have to tap into the power of AI. Leading HR teams are already using it for competitive advantage.
  8. Ethics matter. When it comes to new technologies and new ways of working, ethical values are the key. It’s critical to stay laser-focused on thoughtful, ethical use of technology in a way that continues to celebrate diverse perspectives and foster inclusion and opportunity for all.
  9. Imagine the art of the possible. Simply automating what your HR team is doing today is not going to drive transformational change. Use this moment as an opportunity to think about new things needed to drive your business forward. Invent new approaches, new paradigms, and new ways of working.
  10. HR is the new hero. The transformative CHRO stands at the intersection of all these demands we’ve been talking about. The HR function is now at the forefront of driving business success – which means organizations need to entirely rethink the purview of HR. Business outcomes aren’t driven by process, but by people and skills, backed by AI.

These new rules are just entry points – you can follow in any order you want. But our prescription for the future is to start now if you want to survive and thrive. Changing your approach to talent doesn’t have to be a big huge scary project that takes years to complete. Gone are the days of waterfall methods of HR delivery, where big programs take months or even years to complete. They are now replaced by agility, co-creation, testing and iteration, and user-centered design.

Your mantra moving forward: Think big, start small, and move fast.

Read the guide to reducing skills shortages

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