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Evolve or transform to convince business leaders of your worth

A new study sends warning bells to HR professionals on how they need to change in order to stay relevant .

By Fleur Blanford

Fleur is Oakwood's Head of International Studies and works in our UK Office
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A new study by Henley Business School and Oxford Strategic Consulting: HR with Purpose: Future Models of HR, sends warning bells to HR professionals on how they need to change in order to stay relevant and deliver value for businesses.

The report cites changes in technology and how people engage with organisations as presenting major opportunities to HR to demonstrate its strategic value but warns that HR leaders need to demonstrate their strategic value, not by asking for a ‘seat at the table’, or cautioning the fear of people-related risks, but by delivering the capabilities needed to achieve outstanding strategic success.

The study, which is based on interviews with senior business leaders and academics, and on contemporary studies, suggests that the focus and purpose of the current HR function has evolved over time resulting in a patchy, sometimes superficial entity, using names and roles, such as business partner, which in reality have little meaning and deliver thin strategic impact.

Three major trends referred to in the report set the background and outline the challenges facing the future of work:

The report says, ‘Senior leaders, while consistently acknowledging that people and their capabilities are their most important strategic asset, also believe the ability of the HR function to deliver people’s potential is extremely low’. Advice to HR practitioners is clear: the choice is to evolve or transform. The function needs to demonstrate its strategic value by defining its purpose, defining the process by which that purpose will be achieved and defining and delivering strategic capabilities that make a difference.

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