The HR profession is not what it once was and has been evolving for some time.
The change in name from “personnel” to “human resources” was a move to acknowledge the value of employees as an organizational resource, whilst removing the stigma associated with personnel departments draped in bureaucratic processes.
This shift in label was followed by a call for HR to become strategic partners with business leaders to contribute to significant business decisions.
Now, the industry is changing once again. This time ravished by technological change. It is freeing up time spent doing mundane tasks and contributing to a tangible difference being made by the HR function in organizations globally.
Nathalie Berthelius, Head of HR at payments company iZettle sheds some light on the role of the HR function in organizations.
How has HR evolved as a profession since you have been in the industry?
Social media now plays a vital role in hiring, which is something that’s relatively new. For example, at iZettle we always encourage members of the team to post job openings on Twitter.
Widely used social media channels such as Linkedin have also intensified how HR departments attract and retain talent – something that’s integral to long-term success of businesses big and small.
What skillsets are now required to reach the top of the HR function in organizations?
Reaching the top of the HR function in organizations relies on having an agile mind-set. You need to be able to craft tailor made processes for each business you work in and be willing to adapt them as and when the business changes and matures.
What type of innovation are you seeing within HR that is making it easier for data to become accessible and then utilized?
There are several software solutions assisting and facilitating the HR function in organizations nowadays but depending on the company maturity, you don’t necessarily need to take them all on –this is where the ability to think in an agile way comes into play.
At iZettle, we’re using Jobvite which helps us attract new talent through social media as well as internal referrals.
Businesses dedicate a lot of time, effort and money into trying to understand their customers. Why isn’t there a similar investment in trying to understand employees?
Businesses who function in this way have a narrow minded way of thinking and are at high risk of losing the talent they have spent time and money attracting.
I believe it is best to invest in getting to know our employees. We have spent time working as a team to outline how we all want to work and how to focus on our core business. Which in the long run will most definitely be beneficial.
If we look at the edtech sector – there’s a trend around real-time data analytics to help teachers track students progress and highlight those struggling and those at the top of the class. There are talks of some employers giving their employees wearables so they can track different metrics around their working performance, do you think this is a step too far or is this something that will become increasingly common?
We have started working with company, team and employee OKR (Objectives and Key Results) which I see as a way of improving communication in a rapid growing company –making sure individuals know the target and highlighting how specifically each individual can contribute.
However, I believe that these objectives must be adaptable in order to reflect changing circumstances that are experienced in the rapidly evolving world we live in.
I strongly do believe it will be increasingly common to work with tools such as OKR across all levels of the business. In addition, I think as long as you know and can communicate why you do it and have an agile approach to it, great success can be brought to whichever company and its way of functioning.
You’ve heard of data scientists / business analysts. What do you think of the rise of a new role in HR specifically analyzing data and is that a role you are looking to bring into your own business?
There are definitely benefits from analyzing trends. For example, employee surveys with a scientific approach are helpful, but you then need to work with the people behind the numbers to paint the full picture and build it into tangible action plans.
For this concept to be successful, the role of a “people scientist” would need to focus on the analysis of qualitative data, backed up by the quantitative as opposed to the other way around.
What is the biggest challenge when leading the HR function in organizations experiencing global growth?
The biggest challenge is the ability to scale the communication process across all employees.
This challenge is something global companies face on a day-to-day basis. Ensuring company culture is aligned without being too rigid to adapt to and respect the traditions of different cultures is a balancing game but not impossible.
At iZettle, the OKRs set for the company, the teams and the employees help to align communication during the rapid growth we experience.