Averbook: 10 ways HR can reimagine itself for 2021

Jason Averbook offers 10 HR reimaginations for a ‘better normal’ as organisations rethink how they operate.
By: | October 7, 2020

By Jason Averbook, a leading analyst, thought leader and consultant in the area of HR, the future of work and the impact technology have on that future. The article was first published on Human Resource Executive.

This year has poured gas on the digital revolution. Dramatic world shifts, the prioritised prevalence of the digital workplace and distributed work, and a need to be physically distant with deeper connections than ever to work and each other dramatically accelerated digitisation in our personal and professional lives.

It’s the parallel revolution that makes 2020 so significant: The human revolution overlaid these world shifts, making work suddenly, if not refreshingly, more human than ever. The global health pandemic rooted us in communal health, mental wellness, physical safety, psychological resilience and a local and global sense of both shared trauma and newfound community. The social justice pandemic shined new light on historic wounds, forced awareness and conversation, challenged value systems and inspired change. People have, quite simply, changed forever. The humanisation of work must follow.

And we’re not done yet: Employment, global economies, business models, health data, education systems and a pending U.S. political election all remain in wild flux while we valiantly attempt to forge the future. Rather than passively accepting a “to-be-determined new normal,” one that deals itself out to us by chance like a deck of cards as the world morphs and reshapes, what if we thoughtfully and proactively design a better normal for business? What if we stacked the deck in favor of people?

Approached with optimism, the “now of work” presents incredible opportunities for organisations that establish a people-first mindset; instill a culture that encourages experimentation, innovation, inclusion and growth; and set out to design it with purpose. It’s not only possible, it’s up to us, HR, to set an agenda and lead the reset toward building a better normal.

10 HR Reimaginations for a Better Normal

  1. A new model for HR operations, HR technology and employee experience supports whole employee care, bi-directional workplace communication and trust, and a frictionless workforce experience.
  2. Old talent management habits make way for new talent stewardship strategies.
  3. Talent wars are waged within our own organisations;the business prioritises reskilling, the development of workforce resilience and intelligent mapping of capabilities and career drivers to the strategic needs of the business.
  4. Organisations develop accurate, timely line of sight to the full, extended workforce. Experience, engagement, inclusion and mobility strategies apply to all, regardless of employment status.
  5. Workforce experience is designed with a people-first and data-driven mindset.
  6. Whole employee care and a truly frictionless workforce experience necessitate a unified digital people vision, the dissolution of HR silos, coordination of people strategies and better people data than ever before.
  7. Static strategies and multiyear roadmaps are replaced with agile, nimble strategies focused on what people and businesses need in the now of work and future-proof investments for an unknown period ahead.
  8. Technology is configured, optimised or selected to address spikes and pitfalls and general changes in workforce behaviour.
  9. Renewed strategies are intentionally prioritised and sequenced to drive maximum business impact by leveraging tangible “measures of success.”
  10. HR reimagines budgets and leverages sequencing to set the stage for sustained transformation in 2021.

Whatever crystal ball we relied on prior to 2020 was an illusion at best; we never needed it, we certainly don’t have one now and we’ve learned it was always up to us in the first place: to decide what we want to be, who we want to be as an organisation, how we will operate and why it matters to our people and to broader society.

Join our Leapgen webinar Oct. 20 to “Reimagine HR for Business in 2021.” I’ll also be talking all about “Rewriting the Book of Work” at the upcoming HR Technology Conference & Exposition Oct. 27-30, a reimagined online event that is not to be missed.