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Prithvi Shergill

HCL Technologies

Chief Human Resources Officer

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Will 2014 be the year of innovation for HR?


January is traditionally a month for both personal and professional resolutions. Unlike the personal promises currently being made to join the gym, start a diet or break a bad habit, the workplace is crying out for cast-iron commitments from their employees.

Can you imagine what could be achieved if we entered the new year with as much enthusiasm at work, as we do in our personal lives? For 2014, HR departments, like the teams they support, must harness their powers of determination. 2014 promises to pose challenges in growth, competitiveness in the marketplace, a growing BYOD culture, and an evolving specification of the ‘ideal’ employee, HR departments must be prepared.  

In light of these changes, companies need to take a moment to review, rethink and refresh their people practices. The observations below are likely to be top of the agenda for progressive and innovative HR departments as 2014 kicks off.

Building a multidisciplinary workforce

In order to succeed in a rapidly changing business environment, there is a need for a workforce with the tools to tackle it head-on. Organisations need employees who have the ability to collaborate, think outside the norm and facilitate connections, all whilst demonstrating mastery across multiple disciplines on a daily basis.

Progressive organisations need an equally ambitious HR department to aid and facilitate progress. A company is the sum of its individual parts; its employees. As such, enterprises wishing to make an impact in 2014 should reinvest in reviewing the design of performance, careers, talent and learning management practices. It is essential to set goals with a clear line of sight to business strategy. If a workforce has a clear understanding of the company’s goals, it will help build collaboration and provide a clear target to achieve.

A team spirit where individuals are empowered to reach out to their professional networks inside and outside the company to pursue a good idea, identify career opportunities, or to learn a new skill, makes for a happy workforce. Understanding their own potential and developing actions together with managers will engage and enable employees to innovate and add value, and ultimately, grow company performance.

Creating a synthesis between professional and technical development

2014 will be a year where more will be expected of the HR department as they become increasingly intertwined in business strategy. With this in mind, understanding the right role for the right person, at the right time, in the right place, with right skill, at the right cost is an expectation of an efficient HR team. A critical element of this will be to develop a role-based curriculum that facilitates assessing and enhancing already existing skills, and providing corresponding flexible learning environments. Open channels of communication must exist between employees, managers and their HR representative in order to allow concerns and ideas to be heard. This will help tailor training to different needs, abilities and contexts.

Integrating social collaboration and media within people practices and internal communications

Although most HR departments already acknowledge the importance of social media, the ones that will see the most impact are those that use it as the platform of choice to communicate with their employees. Social media facilitates a two-way conversation, which needs to be reflected as the essence of people practices.

We have already seen organisations turn to social media for marketing and communication purposes. Social media has become an important tool for HR professionals too and will become increasingly central to how people work, how workers engage with each other and how distributed workplaces collaborate. The days of distributing information, communicating policies or sharing program updates via email are drawing to an end, as sharing via social networking platforms allows communication to be more personalised, creative and immediate.

Hard data, numbers, facts and analytics to lead

Data generated by employees will become an increasingly valuable tool to ensure that people practices deliver the right value to the right talent segments. If HR departments become more data smart, they will have the capability to unravel insight from the layers of information available about the worker, work and workplace. Analytical insight will enable and empower business leaders to make informed business decisions in terms of team and project size and span, team structure, skill composition and benchmarks for progress.

If 2014 is going to be the year the New Year’s resolutions turn from good intentions and promises into actions and results, HR teams are encouraged to consider these observations as a starting point. We need to reinvent and re-skill ourselves towards putting the employee first, while at the same time providing a work environment that has a culture which enables collaboration, contribution and commitment. Individuals and organisations that keep their resolutions and take a leadership role in addressing these trends will empower HR practitioners in 2014 and ensure their organisations are future ready. 

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Prithvi Shergill

Chief Human Resources Officer

Read more from Prithvi Shergill