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VUCA Worlds and HR

What are VUCA worlds and how do they effect HR?

By Les Jones

Les is Oakwood's Head of Associates and works in our Associate Team
More from Les >>

The term VUCA has started to appear in research articles covering the geopolitical and business world and means VolatileUncertainComplexAmbiguous. It is applied as a descriptor of the world in which we live and work. It might be argued that we have always lived in a VUCA world; but in the contemporary environment where social media and the general explosion in ICT have sharpened our awareness of what is going on all around us, VUCA has resonance, particularly in the MENA region.

The world of work is certainly changing, and changing at a pace requiring new ways of thinking, new ways of operating, including the way we manage our people and resources. For us as HR professionals, VUCA is an important term to understand. 

Supporting HR in VUCA worlds

The CIPD conducted extensive research focusing on the HR profession and how it needs to be shaped in order to not only survive as a function but also ensure the survivability of the organisations HR professionals support in a VUCA world.  This research, documented in the ‘Next Generation HR’ reports, identified that although HR professionals may be delivering excellent process and service-driven activities in support of their organisations, this in itself is simply not enough. ‘Process-driven’ and ‘Service-driven’ HR activities are essential – they support the very infrastructure of an organisation – they are the traditional activities that identify an HR function from the latter day ‘Personnel’ or pure administrative support. But is this really not enough? ‘No!’ the CIPD researchers tell us, ‘it is not enough!’. For our profession to add true value to the organisations in which we work, we must develop what the CIPD refer to as an ‘insight-driven’ approach.

Our CIPD programmes at Intermediate (Level 5) and Foundation (Level 3) embrace the concept that we, as HR professionals, need to become strategic business partners to the organisations we represent. Our programmes not only identify and explore ‘best practice’; we look at ‘future practice.’ We accept that the traditional, infrastructure activities currently being delivered are and will remain essential – but we believe ardently that fresh perspective, radical thinking based on sound business principles – and fresh insight are all needed to move forward. That’s what makes us (and you) true professionals!

Could you honestly claim that what you deliver as an HR professional is perceived to add value to your organisations? You do a great job, right? 

You probably do. Without your HR function providing that essential infrastructure support, the organisation simply would not be able to function. But, would an operational manager see such activities as actually adding value? The answer, unfortunately, is probably ‘no.’ ‘Keeping the show on the road’, perhaps a little crisis prevention – nipping those pesky little employee relations issues in the bud – all important, but isn’t that doing what you’re paid for?

Add to this the CIPD’s concept of ‘insight-driven’ HR, we have some interesting new ideas to think about. In short, simply maintaining the infrastructure of organisations by delivering efficient, but traditional HR activities is not enough. We have to show that we can make a difference – that we can deliver HR as an applied business discipline.

Whether you are on the first rung of your career in the exciting world of HR a seasoned professional operating at strategic level, you will gain fresh perspective – insight – from Oakwood’s Foundation, Intermediate and (coming soon) Advanced programmes.

If future- focused and strategic HR is something you would like to find out more about then why not look at Oakwood’s CIPD programmes for HR professionals.

For further information please get in touch with us at: info@oakwooddubai.ae or call us on +971 4 359 9020