HR unquestionably now plays an essential strategic function for businesses of all sizes.Once focused predominantly on employee-related administration, with the advancement of digital technologies, the emergence of new sectors and an uncertain political climate, it’s not hard to see why HR has had to adapt to companies’ changing needs.

People management

As it’s role within the business has shifted, so has the way that HR has dealt with managing employees. In most companies, line managers now act as the middleman between employees and higher levels of management by managing workflows and relaying both successes and potential concerns.

HR must now ensure that this process runs smoothly, line managers receive adequate training and that there are long-term strategies in place for internal growth and development. HR practitioners face another new challenge too – how to keep employees engaged.

It’s widely accepted that engaged employees boost productivity levels by 18 per cent, which in turn increases profitability by 12 per cent. To leverage this, some HR teams are allowing staff to re-define their own roles and offering the tools necessary to carve out their own career path. As a result, employees are more likely to stay loyal to the company and invest more into their day-to-day responsibilities.

Data & digitisation

HR managers no longer need to rely on their own intuition to problem solve and make decisions – the sector is now ruled by data and analytics. From tracking career progression to measuring staff satisfaction levels, data is now responsible for streamlining business processes, adding value and boosting productivity. It’s a reflection of HR’s new role within the wider business structure, not only recruiting and onboarding new employees, but looking after them throughout their time with the company too.

Digitising data-intensive processes can cut the cost of business operations by up to 90 percent – a staggering saving for any company. Replacing physical documents and manual processes with efficient, time-saving digital technology frees up time to allow HR teams to make full use of their innately human skills.

AI is streamlining the hiring process and easy access to analytics is helping companies to reach their D&I goals, but it’s vital that we remember that there’s always room for human error within the setup of these algorithms.

A HR department’s strength will always be in its staff’s intuition and ability to successfully manage an ever-evolving team – all while simultaneously striking the right balance between their employees and machines.