Societal, economic, and technological forces are compelling a jarring transition from 20th century assumptions about business operations. The 21st century model can be defined by its differences: a necessarily leaner, more agile, and faster way of working with an always-on, connected, and social workforce.
The emerging 21st century business has a distributed workforce that works socially in increasingly ad hoc teams: teams that involve customers, suppliers, outside agencies, and freelancers and that erode the traditional boundaries of the company. These changes mean that the premises underlying human resources today must be reformulated and take into account the tectonic shifts in the workforce and workplace.
This report explores this changing landscape for human resources, examines some of the most problematic and promising issues confronting businesses today, and sketches the broad outline of an updated charter for HR in the new normal, a time of confrontation and promise. If HR can execute on this new charter, it can get a seat at the executive table by driving communication and knowledge sharing in support of business objectives alongside IT and line-of-business management.
Key findings include:
- HR should take the lead in a reappraisal of HR practices and tools in light of the changes in the operating realities of business. In particular, HR should work to accommodate changes in its doctrine based on the new employee-employer compact, the rise of social tools, and the connected nature of work.
- The conduct of HR — not just its context — must become networked, just as the modern employee is. HR must have a close working relationship with IT to deploy next-generation software solutions so that HR functions can be better integrated into the networked operations model that is the new form factor for business.
- HR needs to identify those who have those skills — to excel in an always-on, connected and social business — and codify their skills.
- HR can lead company efforts to distribute and accelerate innovation in all departments of the organization.
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