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People strategy

Is This the End of Human Resources As We Know it?

Clare Hopping

human_resources_signWhat’s in a name? Human Resources isn’t so much being phased out as it is being rebranded, and its function is, in fact, more important than ever.

With technology automating many of the most basic HR functions, there is a contentious debate raging on as to whether this department is still relevant to the workplace. But as companies emerge from a recession that left few untouched, they’re facing new workforce rules and regulations, and are growing more and more focused in their search for the Holy Grail that is “talent management.”

And who will these firms turn to for guidance in their quest? None other than their friends in HR. The reality is that, far from becoming obsolete, HR has never been more needed  like many things in the digital age, the department is simply in need of a rebrand.

Goodbye HR, Hello People

As part of this reinvention, many companies are dropping the term “Human Resources” altogether in favour of more people-centric roles.

So say goodbye to jobs like HR Director, HR Manager, HR Officer, HR Assistant, Recruitment Coordinator, and Payroll Manager, and hello to all things “people” and “talent.” Here are five new role titles that could be coming to a company near you, if they haven’t already:

Head of Talent

talent_signFormerly known as HR Director, the Head of Talent’s primary concern is making sure that the company attracts and retains the best people. His or her responsibilities include establishing a talent strategy and ensuring the workforce is diverse, productive, and engaged in strategies like optimised recruiting, effective training, and top-notch leadership development.

This role is crucial, according to Bersin by Deloitte, because talent management now defines HR and has become the core of its role. It’s therefore helpful for HR teams in creating new value for their companies, writes Talent Management, and is an essential part of the department’s transformation from a “transaction processor” to a “strategic decision-making facilitator.”

Chief Performance Officer

This hit the headlines in 2009 when President Obama created the role within his own administration, with the successful candidate reporting directly to him. The aim was to improve government performance and efficiency by setting tough targets and holding managers responsible for their teams’ progress.

According to TLNT, the Chief Performance Officer (CPO) combines HR and Finance, and their remit covers anything that affects the general performance of a company. Basically, their “language” is numbers. Also known as a Performance Management Expert, a CPO is tasked with nurturing talent and turning it into great performance, writes Forbes. He or she seeks out more effective, imaginative strategies than the standard annual performance review to align company goals among its workforce.

Chief Innovation Officer

What was once a “new age” role associated with creative start-ups has now become the mainstream. The Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) is responsible for making sure that the right structures and procedures are in place to drive innovation.

In 2013, IBM appointed its first CIO, Dr. Jane Snowdon, and the company isn’t alone – the role even has its own Wikipedia page! And earlier this year, there was a Chief Innovation Officer Summit in London with guest speakers from companies like Google, Orange, and Swarovski.

Social Collaboration Manager

Social collaboration breaks down department barriers and brings people together, and that falls squarely under HR’s purview, according to Forbes.

The Social Collaboration Manager makes sure the technology and systems are in place for effective collaboration. Keeping the most up-to-date tools on hand helps to foster a culture of community and accountability within the office, driving innovation and employee engagement.

Data Analyst

Technology can gather valuable and interesting data about a workforce, but someone still needs to analyse it and before anyone can actually do anything with it.

Data Analysts can use information to make a difference – for example, fine-tuning training programmes, improving retention of staff (by finding out what factors cause people to leave), and boosting efficiency.

These roles, and all the variations of them that companies are adopting worldwide, show that HR continues to play an invaluable role in any organisation  it just might not be the HR we’re familiar with.

(Image credits: City of Olathe/flickr;maryalena/flickr)

Clare Hopping

Clare Hopping has been involved in the recruitment of both full-time employees and freelance staff for ten years. She specialises in recruiting staff via social media and digital platforms.