Out of 2020's Ashes, a New HR

April 27, 2021 Eric Mosley

employees at computerI’ve never been a big fan of dwelling on the past. Maybe it’s my innate optimism or an entrepreneur’s restlessness. Yesterday is immutable. Tomorrow brings new possibilities. 

Today, I’m preparing for Workhuman Live, our annual conference (virtual this year) where business leaders gather to explore HR’s most pressing issues. It’s a moment to imagine how the searing experience of a worldwide pandemic has changed the future we thought we would have.

The storm is passing over. Vaccines are being distributed. Economies are recovering. CEOs and HR executives are devising ways to return to the workplace. Some semblances of normal are returning to our lives at home and at work. While we must honor and mourn all of 2020’s losses, it’s just as important to consider what opportunity this moment brings. 

As a CEO, Executive or HR practitioner, what do you think is next? Will you and your employees return to home port after weathering the storm, or as the tempest subsides will you find yourselves standing on a new shore? 

It’s Time to Rebuild HR from the Ground Up

This is a rare moment in business, as the world absorbs a once-in-a-generation disruption. The pandemic didn’t create remote work, the need for greater well-being, or a re-imagining of HR practices like performance management. The pandemic accelerated the pace of change in those and other practices. 

HR in particular has to understand an emerging ecosystem of technologies, business models, health, human rights and new management methods, all of them accelerated by the challenges and innovations of 2020. 

Consider: are your work processes really based on these changes, or merely trying to keep up? Is your HR technology (most of it process-oriented) responsive to the new normal? How about your analytics – the data you gather and use for decision making? How about your decision-making process itself? 

Your organization’s culture evolved in the old normal. Is it appropriate and responsive to this new moment, or must it change? Are you trying to preserve culture in a time of terrible pressure, or are you trying to evolve culture so that it still propels your mission and values in this new environment?  

It’s time for exciting, original, sometimes uncomfortable conversations about pay and performance; about diversity, equity and inclusion; about privacy and data ownership; about building a culture of employee well-being that defies the desire for one-size-fits-all solutions. It’s time to weave subjective feelings like meaning, purpose and gratitude directly into the flow of work for every employee.  

This is the time to rebuild HR from the ground up.  Are you ready to design the human workplace? 

The Human Workplace is Ours to Build

It’s time for HR leaders to immerse themselves in new thinking about designing the hybrid workforce, fostering feedback and collaboration; optimizing continuous performance development and social recognition; creating exceptional people experiences; promoting mental health and well-being; harnessing artificial intelligence and human analytics to drive business outcomes; and leading with diversity, equity and inclusion. 

These are all components of a new HR ecosystem, working together. It is proactive and agile, unbound by excess bureaucracy. It establishes well-being as a strategic outcome necessary for sustained performance. It (finally!) produces data insights as robust as that of other disciplines like operations and finance. It makes connection and belonging ways to achieve superior performance rather than nice-to-have outcomes.

The most exciting people in management thinking are joining the Workhuman movement, and the hunger for new solutions is global – separate Workhuman Live events are scheduled for the Americas and Europe. At this year’s kickoff I’ll be joined by Nickle LaMoreaux, SVP and CHRO of IBM, as we discuss feedback’s role in IBM’s cultural transformation. Global thought leaders like Cy Wakeman, Daniel Pink and Nataly Kogan will join us, along with business thinkers like Stephanie Mehta of Fast Company and founders like Steve Gross of Life is Good. 

Adam Grant, organizational psychologist and perennial Workhuman Live favorite, will keynote the conference and no doubt share the latest insights you’ve heard about in his most recent bestseller, Think Again

I’m inspired by the progress that can be made when humans unite behind a shared purpose. HR executives, managers, and strategic leaders are standing on a new shore. The shared purpose of everyone, which is really a shared opportunity, is to build a new workplace that works for everyone. 

Don’t miss this moment. There is so much human value to create!


This post originally appeared in Forbes

About the Author

Eric Mosley

Eric Mosley is CEO at Workhuman.

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