The new normal & what it means for HR

5 march 2018

The new normal: a previously unfamiliar or atypical situation that has become standard, usual, or expected.

The new normal: it's also the title of one of books, written by Peter Hinssen in which he looks at the way companies have to adapt their information strategy, their technology strategy, their innovation strategy and the way they are organized internally.

So what does the new normal mean for how companies attract,
develop, and engage employees?

What does the new normal mean for HR?

In this week’s #ConnectWithContent we tried to distill some new roles for HR. In our search online we dug up this article ‘The Workplace As An Experience’ by Jeanne Meister on three new roles she saw emerging in HR in 2016:

“HR is redefining what “new normal”
is in the workplace by creating memorable
employee experiences for their workforce” (Jeanne Meister)

These memorable employee experiences range from designing the space employees work in, providing smart technologies employees access at work, and crafting emotional connections with employees in the workplace. And the only way to actually create the workplace as an experience is by crafting 3 new roles in HR, according to Jeanne Meister:

  • First, she claims, you need a Recruiting Scrum Master to infuse speed and manage the unpredictability in the recruiting process: in rugby, scrum refers to a method of restarting a play, where players pack closely together with their heads down and attempt to gain possession of the ball. Similarly, scrum methods are at the heart of implementing an agile recruiting model. Especially companies that are dealing with blitzscaling and hypergrowth have to create an agile recruiting framework and could benefit from having a recruiting scrum master in place that breaks down massive hiring needs into incremental and iterative steps where the highest value hiring challenges are addressed first.

Through conducting daily scrum meetings,
recruiters are able to deliver talent needs and
business objectives within two to six weeks versus the average 10 to 15 weeks.


  • Second, she says, you need a People Analytics Director: HR is being radically transformed to mine huge amounts of data and offer customized solutions to the business.
  • And third, you need a head of employee experience who has a deep understanding of the needs and expectations of employees and who is charged with working beyond silos of individual departments to assume a cross functional role.

These new roles also point to the opportunity for HR to reach out to employees in other disciplines such as marketing, communications, software engineering, and data science who are filling these roles. 

 It’s not merely re-skilling HR, but HR recruiting new skills into the function!

HR 2020

Fast Forward to the HR department in 2020 (which isn't all that far away in the future) with 6 Bold Predictions in this second article 

Prediction 1: In-house HR will downsize and outsourcing will increase.
According to Industry analyst Brian Sommer we are shifting to smaller HR departments because of all the new HR technologies and because of increased employee participation in HR processes:

Many businesses are going to get a lot of capability done by better technology,
more self-service and the employee doing a lot on their own.

In addition, many transaction-heavy HR jobs will be outsourced entirely to HR agencies or to specialists. Entry-level HR jobs, as they currently exist, will all but disappear as transactional tasks are consigned to outsourced services.

Prediction 2: Strategic thinking will become in-house HR’s new core competence.
The leaner version of HR that remains will need to and will be able to reposition itself as a strategic partner within the business. Did you know that the trend toward smaller, more strategy-focused HR departments was predicted 16 (!) years ago already in SHRM’s 2002 report, The Future of the HR Profession?

And this HR strategy role cannot be outsourced.

Prediction 3: The pendulum will swing back to the specialist.

We're not so sure about that though,
we believe it’s the neo-generalist that will thrive in the the future of HR.

A neo-generalist is both specialist and generalist, able to master multiple disciplines and switching between the two when required. They generalise in order to specialise and they bring unique perspectives, blended knowledge and experience from diverse disciplines. When the context shifts, so does the neo-generalist. Kenneth Mikkelsen and Richard Martin wrote a great book on this topic that we simply devoured. In our opinion at #HRbuilders, the development of metaskills will be key in the future of HR: boundary-crossing and silo-busting capabilities that are essential as we have to be able to respond to big issues and to take advantage of unforeseen opportunities.

Prediction 4: HR will increasingly utilize analytics and big data to augment its value to the firm.
HR professionals will need to embrace analytics and “big data”– now often included in talent management software suites – to become strategic leaders in their companies. Although HR already uses some metrics such as turnover ratios and employee engagement levels, you can expect to see new metrics tracked and used in HR, such as the average timeframe for staff to be ready for promotion, or percentage of top candidates to be hired within the organization.”

Prediction 5: Managing a remote workforce will be the new norm.
Without a doubt, HR will increasingly have to tackle the challenge of managing a remote workforce. But remote management isn’t a skill you can pick up on the fly. Automation and a different set of expectations will be part of the solution.New technologies will be used to analyze the work production instead of the working time. Results will become more important and business will expect HR to be producing more result-driven performance analysis.”

Prediction 6: HR will need to become more like Marketing.
HR needs to think like marketers and this trend is finally starting to expand beyond recruiting. 

So how to prepare for the future of HR and for these new roles as an HR professional?


  • HR professionals should invest in lifefong learning and continuously developing new skills, also from out of HR. We personally love the word ‘Bildung’ as it’s so much more comprehensive that learning.
  • At HRbuilders we are also a believer of networking inside and outside of your field. By blogging, sharing, working out loud, reading you can help others achieve success.

If you are not outside of your comfort zone, you are stagnating.

HR leaders and business leaders from their part then have to welcome those neo-generalists and adapt a more strategic approach on how to attract and develop talent, and this goes beyond the people on their payroll.

We also came across this nice disruption talk on DisruptHR: HR of the future: people persons need not apply. In this talk Josh Tarr suggests 3 key skills for HR:

  1. solving problems = critical thinking
  2. business accumen = intimately knowing the business by asking the right questions
  3. leveraging data by learning to deal with numbers & data analytics = there’s a flood of data in the workplace and HR has to leverage this data

DisruptHR is an information exchange designed to energize, inform and empower people in the HR field. We guess that’s why we like it so much and really would like to attend on of those talks, or maybe even help organise one in Belgium!?

And when talking about the Future of HR, Jacob Mogan is a great thought leader to follow. He shares a lot of info online. One of our favorite articles that he recently wrote is this one in which he shares how HR is evolving:

  • From the "police" of the organization to the coaches, mentors, and thought leaders,
  • From not defining strategy to shaping and leading strategy,
  • From cost center to profit-enabling center,
  • From a clearly defined workforce to a dynamic and changing workforce,
  • From a "one size fits all" model across the organization to "one size breaks all" approach,
  • from siloed from lines of business to working closely to understand business needs,
  • From multi-year project design and roll-outs to fast design, implementation, and iteration,
  • From human resource job titles to people, talent, and experience titles, because we all ‘hate’ the words ‘resources’ and ‘capital’, right?

Hope you enjoyed this week’s read.

We're thinking about adding some video’s instead of writing it all down, what do you think? Feel free to share your comments or share this with your network.

Enjoy the weekend! Talk to you next week :-)

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Nice Article

14 mei 2018 by Pooja Singh

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