• Magali Croese

We don't deal with employees anymore

Human Resources transform continuously as our society’s behaviors, interests and practices change. Happiness and Digitalization become increasingly important in our HR agenda while Big Data and Artificial Intelligence start to make sense. These topics are undoubtedly more than just trends and provide opportunities to connect the HR function closer to people. The trigger underpinning these HR transformations is definitely our human nature: social, creative and ambitious, exploring eagerly every way towards mastery. Another dimension is emerging, though, less obvious and particularly crucial.

The awareness of our individual and collective impact on the society increased a lot over the past decades. Ethics and societal responsibility are no longer requirements relegated to compliance. As individuals we are embedding them gradually in our thought process and behaviors. At home, at work, in our social life.

Ethics and societal responsibility are no longer requirements relegated to compliance...

Let’s return for a moment to the evolution of the HR role. From an organization-centric function, dedicated to labor laws and tax compliance while optimizing labor costs, it evolved to embody a partner with a business-driven mindset expected to manage effectively a dual accountability, to the employee and to the organization, ensuring that each stakeholder is provided with attention, understanding and efficient services. The current emphasis on the employee experience should not overshadow that HR is still strongly led by the organization’s interests, making HR an employee-and-organization centric role. But a new step has been taken.

With the growing interest for societal responsibility, this role is now in the midst of a multiple-stakeholder ecosystem, balancing and serving each one’s interests: employee, organization, society.

Actually, we don’t deal with employees anymore, nor organization’s board members. We deal with citizens. And so are we.

We deal with citizens. And so are we.

Somehow reassuring, this new perspective should bring more dialogue and equity. It also gives way to an increasing demand for purposeful jobs. We can challenge the readiness of our practitioners to handle such a complex network of relations and interests. But we must admit that the HR role has never been so thrilling. We work already in a very complex environment where employees’ rights and aspirations may collapse with the corporate goals, where our own beliefs and values may be questioned by the company’s culture and practices. However, our ability to root our actions in an ethical and responsible framework will definitely become a key competency to perfectly resonate with the people we work with every day.

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