Leveraging digital, data and design thinking to create HR strategies that evolve within a complex future.

By Hope Lokuto, chief human resources officer at BCX

The role of the human resources (HR) professional has evolved and changed over the years. It’s a role defined by its elasticity, its ability to adapt to shifting employee and business needs, and by its ability to bridge the gaps that appear between the two.

McKinsey believes that it is HR that will help the organisation to emerge confidently into the post-pandemic world of work where legacy models of work are overturned and left behind.

HR has to deftly weave digital toolkits, human capital expertise, and the wealth of data within the business into a cohesive ecosystem of skills development and talent management that’s agile and flexible enough to ensure the organisation can thrive.

Perhaps one of the most invaluable tools at HR’s disposal is analytics. For any HR team looking ahead to how it can effectively balance the needs of the individual alongside the needs of the business, insights are the key.

This is particularly important today as the hybrid remote working comes into its own and demands that the business establish new rules, standards and ways of working.

One on hand, the hybrid remote work model enables and empowers, on the other it introduces new challenges and considerations that have to be overcome to ensure it can operate as smoothly as traditional models.

The other issue to consider with hybrid, particularly from an HR perspective, is that it’s harder to measure the people factor – engagement, mood, commitment and happiness. In the office, HR can walk down the hall and gauge how people are feeling with short conversations and interactions.

With hybrid remote work, some of these moments are lost. This means that HR has to reinvent these approaches and bring them into a new way of work that leverages data and insights as litmus tests of happiness.

These diagnostics and insights can be further used to refine how the organisation tackles remote working, geographically dispersed employees, workplace strategies and the overall employee experience.

With the right toolkits in place, HR can then develop adaptable strategies based on consistent and accessible insights that help refine their approaches and their engagements. This is far more in line with how employees want to be treated moving forward – fewer rigid systems built for old frameworks and more flexibility.

Another aspect to consider is design thinking. This works in tandem with insights-driven HR planning to ensure that change is aligned with expectations.

Applying design thinking principles allows for HR to test out and refine processes so that implementation is less a surprise, and more an exercise in seamless engagement.

This allows HR to proactively curate solutions for challenges that may arise during the evolution to this new way of work without potentially inhibiting the organisation’s ability to take advantage of opportunities or its access to talent.

Moving forward, HR should be using data science and digital tools to create relevant human capital management strategies, and to become the curators of corporate culture on a very real and tangible level.

Creating moments that matter that can be felt by employees across continents and cities. It’s a huge task, but it is one that can be far more easily achieved if the HR team and organisation invest into solutions that empower their focus on people, and if HR is prepared to shift its traditional foundations to fresh and innovative directions.

This is the future of HR – a skillset and mindset that values engagement, drives involved employees, and is a stakeholder in reinventing the employee experience.