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What Are The HR Leadership Practices To Help Competitive Companies Prepare For 2020?

Jim Morrison of The Doors wrote, "the future's uncertain and the end is always near".

While I do not necessarily share this gloomy outlook I do agree that HR leaders are continually challenged on how to help their organizations position themselves for the future.

I just read an interesting blog posted by Chris Bailey, PwC HR Practice Director of the Caribbean, where he provided an overview of a SHRM 2016 presentation by Scott Hamilton, CEO of NextWorks.

The presentation subject was around providing a formula to help organizations adapt their HR practices to help them be competitive in 2020.

To start the presentation Scott Hamilton looked back into the past to show how being slow to adapt and recognize changes can be critical to an organization. Consider the following examples:

  • Kodak’s slow embrace of digital due to their concerns of cannibalization of their emulsion film business.
  • Blockbuster Video not moving to online streaming even though they had a two-year head start versus Netflix.

Both miscalculations proved to be fatal to these organizations.

Hindsight is always easy and all of us can be smug and say what Kodak and Blockbuster “should have done”. The problem is that predicting and seeing into the future is really hard since the signs are not always that clear.

The HR Practices that Scott Hamilton listed to help organizations prepare for 2020 and beyond are:

Eliminate: Which Policies and practices can you eliminate that your industry has long competed on?

HR leaders need to push their organizations to look at changes that can be small (dress codes, unlimited vacation days, family leave) to major changes (removal of job titles, eliminating annual merit increases, virtual vs. office based work environments).

Raise: Which practices/policies/benefits should be raised well above the industry standard?

HR should look at what are the real differentiators that can separate them from the competition. Will that be health care, training, workplace, philanthropy, or creative compensation? It could be anyone of these or any other creative solution that will help make their firm unique and worth working for.

Reduce: Which practices/policies should be reduced well below industry standard?

In order to improve you do not necessarily need to add new services or increase spending. Sometimes gain can come from getting rid of non-value added items. One example would be a re-imagining of how training and employee development is done. Can outside workshops at fancy locales be replaced with online module-based learning?

Create – Which policies and practices should be created that the industry never offered?

This is blue sky area where HR leaders can create programs that can truly be revolutionary. It could be the holacracy management structure found at Zappos, or the paid college tuition at Starbucks. It could even be creating innovative compensation programs designed to increase employee ownership at all levels through stock or profit sharing.

Thanks to Chris Bailey for sharing his insights on this great presentation.