• Renee Conklin

Top 5 things about HR I wish everyone would stop saying in 2020

Updated: Mar 11

I am lucky to attend many HR industry conferences, roundtables and social events. I walk away from most of these events with useful insights, fresh ways of thinking and a big stack of business cards! I applaud those HR leaders who bring something new to the table and are advocating for real change in their organizations and in the profession as a whole. But sometimes, I hear the same old stereotypical soundbites about HR being repeated over and over again. I admit that I’ve been guilty of saying some of these in the past myself! But as we head into 2020, let’s all agree to abandon these outdated ideas and promote a future-focused vision of HR.

1) HR needs to be a partner to the business Seriously, aren’t we there already? If you are still working in an organization where HR is viewed as personnel, your CEO thinks you are his secretary or your business head just calls you in to do all of his dirty work, then get out! There are hundreds of more progressive organizations out there that will value your viewpoint and input. I’ve written about this in the past and it’s not a concept that I’ve stopped believing in. However, I have to believe that we’ve arrived. There is no need to keep talking about this in the future tense or as something in progress. It’s done. We are there. HR IS a partner to the business.


2) HR should be more data savvy No one disagrees with this statement. Let’s stop lamenting about the fact that all of our HR partners are data-inept and instead, start moving ahead with ways to build this skillset so the entire function can progress. I wrote about some simple ideas here that even low-tech organizations can start taking to move their people function forward.


3) HR needs to move away from the admin and be more strategic Hallelujah! Preaching to the choir on this one. Some HR leaders will scratch their heads at this. They haven’t updated an Excel spreadsheet or drafted a reference letter on Microsoft Word for years. They advise on workforce planning, join business strategy meetings and present on people matters at corporate offsites. Yet others, even at the most senior levels, will rejoice at the idea of giving up the hours they spend consolidating data from a multitude of HR systems or redrafting that customized employment letter just one more time. The truth is that much of HR’s ability to be strategic is determined by the leaders of the organization and the way they view the HR team. If a seat at the table is offered to you, grab it and don’t give it up! If one is not offered, then build your own.


4) HR jobs will disappear due to AI and automation This is great news! Bring on the robots! No one is surprised by this anymore. AI and automation are not something that HR leaders should fear. Reducing some of our administrative tasks frees us up for the bigger picture and the creative thinking that our businesses demand of us. Let’s embrace this change and support our teams in implementing it. And if our own jobs will be impacted? Prepare and upskill! Change is the only constant and change management is a fundamental skill of HR leaders.


5) HR transformation If I had a nickel for every HR leader who told me that their organization was undergoing an HR transformation, I would be a millionaire! Every team is either about to embark on an organizational restructure, is in mid-stream of the roll-out or is trying to figure out how to unwind all of the shiny, new changes that simply don’t work for their organization. Workday forces process flow changes, SAP’s interface is terrible, and managers balk at the concept of manager self-service. We’ve all been there! And if we aren’t there yet, we will be in the very near future! Rather than characterizing organizational redesigns as “transformations,” organizations should frame these changes as the new normal. HR transformations are not a panacea. As technology has rapidly accelerated the pace of change “transformations” will simply become part of the status quo.


As we head into 2020, let’s forget these same old stereotypical soundbites about HR. As part of my new year’s resolutions, I pledge to stop repeating and propagating them. Let’s all agree to abandon these outdated ideas and promote a future-focused vision of HR. What exactly will that future-focused vision of HR look like? I don’t know, but I look forward to hearing your comments down below!


#talentattraction #employeeengagement #hr #change #futureofwork


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Renee Conklin is a career coach and HR Leader who writes about talent attraction, employee engagement and the future of work. Check out more of her articles on LinkedIn.


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