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  • Writer's pictureBartley Joseph

Is the Human Resources Function Defunct?

The Human Resources Management function , or as we prefer to make it, The People Management Function, is undergoing rapid change and is set to take on a very different role in maximising people deployment in organisations. Here are the main drivers separated into mature drivers and emergent drivers.


Mature Drivers have been around for some time and have already shaped the nature of people management. These have already been factored into the transformation imperative and have largely been outsourced and/or automate. They are:

  1. Digital Transformation: HRM is increasingly leveraging technology to automate processes, enhance efficiency, and improve employee experience. This includes the adoption of cloud-based HR systems, AI-powered recruitment tools, self-service portals, and data analytics for decision-making.

  2. Data-driven HR Decision Making: HRM is increasingly leveraging people analytics and big data to make data-driven decisions. This includes using HR data to identify trends, predict employee attrition, improve recruitment strategies, and enhance overall organisational performance..

  3. Automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI): HRM is adopting automation and AI technologies for various HR processes, including resume screening, chatbots for employee queries, scheduling interviews, and employee self-service systems.

  4. Skills Development and Upskilling: With the rapid pace of technological advancements, HRM is placing greater emphasis on skills development and upskilling to address skill gaps and ensure the workforce remains competitive in the digital age. This includes personalised learning programs, online training platforms, and partnerships with educational institutions

Emergent Drivers have surfaced with new vigour and are set to redefine the nature of people management. In most cases, these cannot be outsourced and be automated to a limited degree. They are at the heart of the organisation and require authentic leadership. They are as follows:

  1. Remote Work and Flexible Work Arrangements: The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the shift towards remote work and flexible work arrangements. PM is adapting to this trend by developing policies, practices, and tools to support remote employees, ensuring effective communication, collaboration, and performance management in virtual environments.

  2. Employee Well-being: Organisations are recognising the importance of employee well-being and mental health. HRM is focusing on initiatives such as wellness programs, stress management, work-life balance, and creating a supportive work environment.

  3. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI): There is a growing emphasis on promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. HRM is taking proactive measures to address biases, ensure fairness in hiring and promotions, foster inclusive cultures, and implement diversity training programs.

  4. Agile HR: Inspired by agile methodologies in software development, Agile HR focuses on flexibility, collaboration, and iterative approaches to HR practices. It involves continuous feedback, cross-functional teams, and adaptive performance management processes.

  5. Employee Experience: HRM is shifting its focus towards providing a positive employee experience throughout the entire employee lifecycle. This involves creating engaging onboarding experiences, offering development and growth opportunities, and prioritising employee feedback and recognition..

  6. Employer Branding and Talent Acquisition: HRM is increasingly focusing on building strong employer brands to attract and retain top talent. This includes creating compelling employer value propositions, utilising social media and online platforms for recruitment, and enhancing candidate experience throughout the hiring process.

It is the Emergent Drivers that will define People Management of the future. Time will tell whether the HRM functionaries are able to transform themselves to meet the challenges presented, or whether they will give way to a newborn professional who will assist leaders in framing the response to the new imperatives.

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