Hot trends from HR Trailblazers

“There has been a huge shift in HR over the years to move from just an administration department, to a key strategic player in the business.”

And it’s not just us at Sage People that think so. In fact, this observation comes from Suzie Woodhams, HR Director at Equinix, and one of the top 100 most influential HR executives within fast growing businesses.

We collaborated with Hot Topics to identify the HR Tech 100 earlier this year, in recognition of the individuals utilizing technology to become an integral part of the way business strategies are shaped, and contributing to industry-wide change.

It’s a change that’s becoming increasingly apparent within the HR functions of our own customers and beyond, as new technologies begin to take hold and the use of data to drive decision making in HR becomes more and more crucial to business strategy.

Halfway through the HR Tech 100 series, some inspirational thought-leadership is already emerging from the visionary HR leaders on our list. Below are some of the key themes they’ve identified so far, and which we expect to hear much more about in the months to come as HR technology continues its rise to the top of the corporate agenda.

1. Changing perceptions of HR
As Suzie says, HR is more than just administration in the modern workplace, and is increasingly becoming a key player in business strategy. The change of name in recent years, from personnel to HR, is itself recognition of the changing role of the department, as Nathalie Berthelius, Head of HR at iZettle, points out, acknowledging the value of people as a resource. Peter Phelan, Chief People Officer at Shutterstock, believes there’s been a strategic shift in the way employees are thought about – and it’s a shift being felt across the business function.

2. New methods for managing people
Technology and the rise of social media have allowed HR to adapt in recent years, with leaders now exposed to millions of potential employees via LinkedIn, Twitter and the like. As technology changes, though, so too do methods of management. Chief People Officers are becoming increasingly commonplace, and as Ann-Marie Cooper, CPO at Huddle says, it’s their job to take ownership and manage expectations within the business. The Head of Talent at Lyst agrees, suggesting that managing employees and an HR function now requires a more holistic approach rather than just exploring issues from the surface, as HR becomes more integrated.

3. Balancing facts and feelings
Barbara Massa, SVP of HR at FireEye, warns that although technology can be hugely transformative, Big Data often overlooks answers to significant questions. Several of the HR Tech 100 stressed the importance of balancing new technology with old fashioned human instinct; Amy Zimmerman, Head of People at Kabbage, says she believes there’s nothing like a traditional HR professional. Though data can be invaluable in assessing the best fit for a role, she tries to hire using emotional intelligence (EQ) as well as IQ, and as HR continues to move forward it will be the role of the people scientist to balance the two.

We’re looking forward to some more food for thought as the series continues – in the meantime, find out how HR technology could help your business.

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