From a ‘cell’ to a chameleon: the evolution of HR!

Geschreven door Thierry Bertucat op

People walking on office concourseOn 15 September last, Bruno Mettling, Orange’s deputy CEO in charge of Human Resources and internal communication, presented his report on the ‘transformations of work in the digital age’ at the Ministry of Labour in Paris. The report contains 36 proposals to adapt the rules and the organization of ‘work’, as a way of better facing the digital challenges ahead.

Some people suggest introducing a new legislative framework for the digital technologies that so fiercely disrupt our way of working and our relationships with our work. Yet is legislation still relevant in our super-connected world, where everything changes at dazzling speed? The societal model that dates from the industrial revolution has remained relevant during Taylorism and the so-called ‘trente glorieuses’, yet technology has totally outpaced it today. HR changes rapidly; we could call it an ‘uberisation’ of the HR professions ….

Until the end of the 1990s, the commonest company model was based on a very hierarchical structure, where all the different players had their own role. Just like a biological stem cell that is surrounded by other cells to form organs – each with their own specific function –, HR’s IT landscape was based on a central HR-system (core HR) to which modules with very specific functions (payroll, remuneration, organograms) were added. The system was modified scarcely over time and every change had a huge – financial and functional – impact. This type of system perfectly matched the organization models of the time, focusing on the administrative management of HR. The tools were complex and the privilege of HR experts.

The explosion of the internet and the many data transactions – big data – since have led to the introduction of new HRIS models (HRIS in a SaaS model), which are much more flexible and also integrate data from outside the company. They are a close fit with today’s technological evolution, as well as with the evolution of our societal model, where companies employ fewer and fewer FTEs (50% freelancers in the US), the active population consists of a mix of generations (5 generations from 18 to 65 years )and 50m of the world population is below 30 (the first generation after this 3rd major industrial revolution, i.e. the digital revolution). Our society has become global, just like our companies.

In this turmoil, which looks complex at first site, HR teams seem lost and are hopelessly looking for simplicity. Everything they’ve learned about HR seems useless. Their tools have not been adapted. The new generations are chameleon generations that will have at least five professions, some of which do not yet exist. Permeated by the internet and real-time information, they want to work in a decentralized, collaborative way, with the tools they like best. This brings great opportunities for Human Resources. It is up to the HR teams to redefine their roles, spread the vision of the new generation and integrate it into the corporate strategy. An HRIS system in a SaaS model is an excellent tool to help them transform their company by bringing the management and employees – whether internal or external – together.

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