Not Your Grandma’s HR World

Let me start by saying that I’ve got nothing against grandma. In fact, I love her. She had an amazing work ethic, she was loyal, she was smart, passionate, and she was resourceful. She knew how to work the phone lines to recruit, and she could write copy to place in the local newspaper ads. She mastered the most sophisticated tool available to her at the time, a typewriter; she had to keep an orderly rolodex, and she could organize a forest of paper like nobody’s business. She made reading people her expertise, made smart hiring decisions, and she took her time finding a new employee who could potentially be there for the next 40 years. When a new hire started, she made sure to have him or her fill out all the paperwork, then she would take some time introducing him or her to the rest of the staff. Then, she would drop off her newest hire in the hands of management and be on her way to the next process.

Well…time’s aren’t changing…they have already changed, and this isn’t your (or my) grandma’s HR world.

Here are some of the things that Grandma would have to learn in today’s fast paced business world:

  1. It’s about speed. The information is out there, and it’s accessible to almost anyone. However, the one who can access that information the fastest typically wins. This is imperative when searching for candidates to fill positions. Good candidates are hard to find in today’s skills gap, and so they usually “go” pretty quickly. HR professionals don’t have time to waste (not that grandma did either), but the stakes are higher in this speed of business, as a tremendous amount of money is lost daily with employees who don’t perform, aren’t engaged, or by positions that are left vacant.
  1. No lifers here. The norms for today’s standard employment tenure have certainly changed, today’s workforce isn’t looking for a place they can work for the rest of their life. The socially accepted minimum time of employment is 18 months (a far cry from 40 years), and there is a school of thought that if you’re not getting promotions and moving upward, you shouldn’t stay in a job longer than 6 years. (Fortune) Whew! Today’s HR professionals have to be on the constant lookout for engagement and retention practices that grandma never faced. It used to be that solid pay and the idea that a company would take care of you were enough for someone to stick and stay. Not today. There are way more factors involved in keeping top talent, and it’s now up to HR to manage these functions of a business.
  1. Paper is for dinosaurs. Don’t get huffy with me, I’m not calling Grandma old. I’m just saying that in her world, everything was recorded on paper. Interview notes, hiring paperwork, insurance, government forms, paychecks, and more were all kept on paper. Today, the business world has its head in the cloud. No, literally, everything is already moving, or has already moved, into the digital cloud above us. I’ve even witnessed one of the first accounting companies, located in the state of Texas, move to an entirely paperless system. It has been an incredible undertaking for a company that has been around for 30 years, but they’ve made the shift, and are even leading the way. Today’s HR personnel must find a way to integrate systems that leverage cloud-based solutions.
  1. Hello, I am a robot. With AI, chatbots, intelligent automation, robotics and more, there is a language that an HR professional must be willing to learn. He or she must be willing to get over the fear of learning the latest technology, knowing that it could be obsolete in the next 18 months, so they have to develop a continuous learning cycle. I remember when my dad didn’t like to play Nintendo 64 because “all those buttons are confusing,” and he got frustrated…so he wouldn’t play at all. And they say that some of the gaming software today can be configured to be used for military weaponry! Poor dad. But just like his unwillingness to play a game because of frustration, some people will refuse to adjust to the AI age. Fear and refusal to learn this language will certainly lead you to the result that you fear the most…that you will be replaced by that robot.
  1. It’s all about people. There is one thing that grandma won’t have to learn. In fact, there is something that we can certainly learn from Grandma: It’s all about people. Today’s HR still have to be able to “read” people, they have to be great judges of talent, and they have to make smart hiring decisions. That hasn’t changed. They have to figure out ways to effectively onboard new hires, and they have to be creative and effective in getting new employees fully engaged and into full productivity. They have to help build and protect the culture of a company. And while there are many powerful systems that are supported by the cloud and driven by AI, every one of those systems is designed to help…people. Even in the age of speed and extraordinary technological advances, it still comes down to people.

Grandma was a smart woman, and I’m certain she would have figured out a way to adapt in order to make it in today’s HR world. However, the landscape of HR function today continues to rapidly change, and proves to be a space that must effectively integrate the power of technology with the greatness of people, at a fast rate of speed. Don’t let the fear of the unknown keep you from trying. Don’t let technology or speed be the enemy. Jump in and learn the systems that are now offered that can take your business or organization to the next level. It’s okay…you won’t inadvertently start the next big war with the push of the wrong button.

Love you Grandma!