More than just one string to the modern HR bow

As the HR function becomes more and more central to modern organisations, it continues to evolve and mature.

Which type of HR professional are you?

Some would argue that there are really two HR roles today – one involved more with process (in the very best sense of the word) and the other focused on people. It is interesting to look at how they work together, overlap and what that means for a HR department and a company’s management.

In fact, it’s just as important for those creating the courses to educate and equip the HR professionals of the future, who may have a specific career path in mind and need skills to match.

Despite technology taking away much of the manual tedium, the “process” role continues to escalate in size and complexity. There are lots of systems to juggle, a constant quest for process improvement and streamlining and an enormous amount of legislative compliance (think OH&S and Fair Work Agreements).

This suits HR professionals who are motivated – both personally and professionally and the ability to make a quantifiable difference to an organisation by making a whole lot of core functions work better. Perhaps the biggest challenge is getting people to embrace issues that are important but frankly not sexy.

The “people” role is about finding and retaining the best employees, keeping them healthy and happy, predicting job performance, ensuring accreditation requirements and training needs are met, maintaining best-practice systems and the organisation’s status as an employer of choice, and keeping across workplace trends.

There is a psychological aspect to the role, because it is about people, and people can be emotional.

The two roles are not mutually exclusive and there are common challenges, not the least being shrinking budgets, handling generational change, adapting to increasingly mobile workforces and the escalating use of contingent employees.

The need for both

Modern HR departments need to ensure they have people with the skills to meet both roles while also shaping individual jobs to suit the skills and inclination of the people they do have in the team. Some people are simply better and more comfortable with process than people, and vice versa.

One of the big changes and challenges for everyone in HR is going to be the rise of what has been called “people science”. Smart organisations are going to want to know even more about the people they have and how they are going to be utilised in the future as both the business and the business environment changes.


Capturing the ROI of HR communicates the business case for justifying or enhancing an HR budget. But, the benefits extend further…..