New Expectations from HR Professionals


The HR function is evolving, with the changing ways of business. Earlier a policing function with a transactional output in instilling discipline, today it is playing the role of strategic advisor and tactical implementer in business. This is leading to a changing mindset towards HR, with employees, as well as senior leadership, being more open to receiving people advisory. This change is forcing the modern HR professional to balance a gamut of roles, both at the business and the employee end.

Earlier, HR was known to be more of an administrative and finance-led function, with transactions such as payroll, fun at work and other operational agendas filling an HR professional’s bucket. However, with people becoming a core differentiator for companies, leaders have started realizing the strategic value-add that HR can create for businesses. The result is that the HR professional of today has more power to create a real change, by implementing talent initiatives at the strategic and tactical level. With more power comes more responsibility, and HR professionals today must equip themselves with the right know-how and skills to lead these changes. Thus, we see that the role of an HR professional has evolved to become a medley of the following three roles, as first proposed by Dave Ulrich:

  1. Strategic Partner: HR initiatives must closely tie into the organization-wide business plan and objectives. HR professionals must deeply understand the business and translate the business needs into the design, development, and deployment of HR interventions. The CHRO must talk the language of business and exhibit the necessary business-savvy skills to gain a strategic seat at the business table.
  2. Employee advocate: It is the role of HR to champion the cause of the employee, including understanding their needs and aspiration to help them be motivated and productive. HR must strive to bring the best out of each employee by creating the right HR processes right from employee engagement, learning and development, performance management, hiring and retention, compensation and benefits and so on. Empowering and enabling the employee and aligning the employees’ goals with the organizational goals is the most important part of the HR job. This includes employee communication, so as to balance the outcomes of the organization with those of its people.

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  1. Change champion: HR is getting strategic by the day, as organizations are going through huge changes. Change is painful for its people, and it is HR’s duty to be the change champion by enabling a smooth and effective change process. As a part of organizational development and change management, HR professionals must act as the stewards of change, driving the necessary people and process.

The new-age HR manager thus dons many hats and must be skilled to take on these parallel responsibilities. HR has become broader and more business oriented, and to meet this expectation, HR must become more dynamic talent managers.