How to become a progressive HR leader

How to become a progressive HR leader

Last Wednesday, HRbuilders welcomed Professor Lisbeth Claus at our Headquarters in Ghent. As a personal friend of Captain Katrien Devos, Lisbeth suggested to host a breakfast session and an exclusive HRdinner for our HR Community to share with us her expertise in Global and progressive HR.

Belgian born, American by choice, Lisbeth Claus is a lady who is to be reckoned with. In 20 years’ time, she has become an expert in Global HR and an acclaimed and sought after speaker for international HR conferences. She has been a keynote speaker at SHRM and was awarded the EMMA award for research of the year. Last year, the IT HR Roundtable/Global HR Consortium announced the creation of the Lisbeth Claus Trail Blazer Award in honour of Lisbeth’s lifelong dedication to the development of the global HR profession around the world.

Lisbeth always has her ‘tentacles’ out there connecting the dots of what companies and HR can (should) do to tackle disruption.

Our guests were spoiled and we are now at least one step closer to #TheFutureOfHR! Old paradigm companies doing more of what they were doing and spending more money doing it better take notes of our key learnings:

Imagine the future of work…

  • with future workers applying for a job without a CV!
  • with employees being hired without being interviewed by anyone.
  • without permormance reviews: 60(!)% of US companies have abolished the annual performance appraisal. Nobody likes them, they’re a waste of time and we’re very biased anyway…
  • with algorithms predicting who will leave the company.
  • with employees having unlimited time off.
  • with employers without employees.
  • HR generalists being replaced by chatbots.
80% of what HR people are doing today, will not be done by them anymore in 5 or even 1 year (!)

We’re headed for total HR disruption

With systems allready strained, we need a whole new conversation as we are moving to the gig economy. We’re confronted with huge demographic pressures: people becoming more than 105 years old, companies crippled by enormous youth unemployment, robotization pushing lots of unskilled workers towards unemployment, globalization with persistent low interest rates and mass migration of labor.

The only way to be able to pay for social security is to pay workers less and have them work longer.

No other solutions exist! 

Human labor will be dispaced by technology because workflows will always go to where it can be done at the lowest cost and the most efficient way.

That’s why we need new working life scenario’s

Changing careers due to (in)voluntary disruptions or setbacks, constantly re-creating yourself - although not yet socially accepted - will be key in order to build a resilient global career in #TheFutureOfWork.

This leaves employees and workers overwhelmed (working 24/7), fearful, (I will have to work ‘forever’) highly disengaged so less productive (productivity has not increased over the past 20 (!) years, unprepared for change and transitions and in total lack of the new tangible and intangible skills required.

The HR disruption challenge

It’s a shared responsibility to overcome this disruption challenge:

  • The individual: you have to be able and willing to take care of yourself!
  • HR and the employer
  • Government and society

The first industrial revoliation was all about utility, the second about productivity, the third about engagement and the fourth is about experience! 

It’s high time for HR analytics, behavorial economics, agile management and design thinking!

Towards a new HR architecture and a new HR stack

Companies need to change their value propostion, build a new organizational architecture and develop a new HR stack:

1) return of the HR value >> enter employee experience

  • Companies should find the sweet spot where expectations of the employer and expectations of the employees meet.
  • Companies need to evolve from an implementer and developer of policies and procedures to a designer or architect of experiences

2) the new HR architecture: no one-size-fits-all

  • Companies need to design a productive and meaningful employee experience in their physical (20%), technological (20%) and cultural (60%) environment
  • And this is not only the job of HR, this is everybody’s job! Also co-workers and colleagues can have a postive or negative impact on your experience at work.
People don’t quit companies, they quit people: their bosses, also their colleagues (!)

The HR architecture design is agile: personalized - Responsive – Transparent – Simple and Authentic

3) A new HR stack

We need a new HR stack: traditional HR which will always remain important can be learned online. It has to be topped off with progressive HR with 4 building blocks:

  1. HR analytics (statistics)
  2. Behavorial economics (psychology and economics)
  3.  Agile management
  4. Design thinking

And every building block has tools that can be used by HR: personas, scrum, user stories, social demographics, rapid prototyping, employee experience maps, touchpoint moments of truth, nudging, data mining,…

So where do we go from here?

How do you become a progressive HR workplace leader?

  • Focus on the culture (EVP)
  • Be customer-centric and manage the employee experience
  • Re-engineer the physical environment
  • Embrace and embed technology
  • Integrate knowledge from other managerial disciplines
  • Use data to drive decisions
  • Test prototypes
  • Link HR activities to the (micro, meso and macro) context
  • Keep the ‘H’ in HR





All, 2017