HR redefined: What does next generation HR look like?

Lars Schmidt, a keynote speaker at HR Tech Festival Asia Online 2021, examines how HR is being redefined.
By: | August 17, 2021

With the pandemic having fundamentally changed the world of HR, many concepts and practices that had previously been deemed as “for the future”, are now being viewed by HR leaders as critical for success.

Having to work in a work environment that differs markedly from what they have been used to for the majority of their careers, one of the biggest challenges HR leaders face today is to stay on top of the multiple external factors that are impacting organisations and their employees, said Lars Schmidt, Author and Founder of Amplify.

Speaking exclusively to HRM Asia Magazine, he elaborated, “The demands of our jobs have never been greater or more complex but finding and prioritising the time to say abreast of external news, trends and practices with our limited bandwidth can be a real challenge.”

Author of the bestselling book, Redefining HR: Transforming People Teams To Drive Business Performance, Schmidt will be a keynote speaker at HR Tech Festival Asia Online 2021, where he will describe his vision of next-generation HR to help leaders plan their HR roadmap for 2022 and beyond.

To start with, do HR leaders have a clear idea of where they want their organisations to be, and how they can build towards that?

Schmidt observed, “Many organisations are experiencing transformation as they move from more traditional HR approaches and systems to more progressive approaches. It’s hard to do that all at once, especially at scale. Identify where your business wants and needs to be in two years and prioritise upgrading your current systems and processes in terms of how they align and support that future state.”

He also urged HR leaders to see the events of 2020 has a “real opportunity to access practices and approaches with fresh eyes. Many of the HR systems and approaches in play today, Schmidt said, are either inherited from earlier states of business, or are based on traditional playbooks about how to performance individual functions such as performance, talent management and compensation.

“The evolution is often iterative with small changes, so fundamentally we are working on core systems that were built for the world of work a decade or more ago.”

However, this should not stop HR leaders from asking questions such as: What if we build the function from the ground up based on all of today’s realities? What would we change? What would we hold onto?

Schmidt urged, “These are the types of thought exercises that are so important right now, and there is so much potential in what we can build and our role in creating better workplaces for employees.”

He also sees recruiting and retention of talent as the other main challenges for HR leaders for the remainder of 2021. “Whether the great resignation comes to be or not, our ability to hold onto our talent and keep them engaged will be a struggle.”

For instance, different employees have been impacted by the pandemic in different ways. While some are desperate to get back to an office, others will choose to work remotely indefinitely. This variance, according to Schmidt, is putting real pressure on HR to accommodate a range of needs and expectations.

He added, “There’s so much talk about remote and hybrid work, but the real winner is choice and flexibility.  The acceleration of remote has created a broad global talent pool for many organisations. In this new world where many roles are no longer limited to geography, companies will have to be very clear about their Employer Value Proposition (EVP) and what prospects potential employees can expect if they join.”

Flexibility will define the future of work

Despite the obvious challenges currently facing HR leaders, Schmidt is optimistic about what lies ahead is a future of work that is defined by flexibility.

He highlighted, “There’s never been a better time to work in HR – I believe that deeply. We have this once-in-a-generation opportunity to fundamentally change how our function works and drive better outcomes for our business and employees.”

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Lars-Schmidt-700x700.jpg

“We have this once-in-a-generation opportunity to fundamentally change how our (HR) function works and drive better outcomes for our business and employees.” – Lars Schmidt, Author and Founder of Amplify


“Companies that successfully navigate this new landscape will have a range of different constructs employees can opt into based on what works best for them. Where. When. How. Employees will have more agency to optimise their employee experience.”

To achieve this, organisations need to improve how they measure the output of work to better understand individual performances in remote and/or flexible environments. They also have to make significant investments in optimising asynchronous communication and collaborations, Schmidt pointed out.

He continued, “Office culture was dominated by meetings and we basically carried that with us when we shifted to remote during the pandemic. It’s our default, but it doesn’t need to be. Companies who optimise async will unlock so much potential in their teams.”

While 2021 will largely be defined by volatility as HR leaders manage change in the form of remote and hybrid work experiments, and the re-engineering of HR systems, Schmidt is already looking forward to what 2022 can potentially bring.

“I’m really excited about we we’ll do in 2022 as those changes stablise and we start building on this new foundation we’ve created – it’s going to be a wide ride!”

Join Lars Schmidt at HR Tech Festival Asia Online 2021, where he will presenting his keynote address titled HR redefined: What does next generation HR look like? on Wednesday, September 22, 10am (SGT). Click here to read the HRM Magazine Asia August/September 2021 issue.