HR the Disrupter


Throughout its history, HR has steadily evolved, and now the pace of change is escalating at speeds never seen before. Our modest personnel administration origins have matured into directing the very future of work, and our success is now defined entirely by results, not process. A constant theme of the HR profession has been the transformation of our work. It used to happen every decade or two, but now it is continuous.

HR is now poised to be the newest disrupter of business, driving bottom-line benefits through new approaches to finding and keeping the best people.

How does disruption differ from innovation? All disruptors are innovators, but disruption goes further. It challenges everything we think we know and everything we do. To be innovative, we think outside the box, but to be disruptive, we may need to lose the box altogether.

In our cover story of this month’s issue of HR Magazine, talent and tech guru Josh Bersin of Bersin by Deloitte writes about nine technology trends that are upending old processes and boosting HR performance into high gear—from advanced people analytics tools to the use of artificial intelligence for talent development. Now a $2 billion-a-year business, HR technology is one tool we have to disrupt business.

However, disruption doesn’t always require technology. It can be as simple as rethinking traditional workplace paradigms, such as the 9-to-5 norm.

Workforce diversity and inclusion programs can also be disruptive. We know that companies with gender and ethnic diversity outperform others by up to 35 percent. But today it takes more than asking questions and eyeing candidates to build a diverse workforce. We should all be exploring next-generation approaches to inclusive, equitable talent management.  

To succeed in the 21st century workplace, companies must do more than adapt to the new ways people want to work. They need to create fresh approaches that emphasize innovation, competitiveness and fairness. HR must be ready to innovate—and often disrupt—with solutions that transform today’s businesses and people. “HR as Disrupter” may well be the next evolution of our profession.  


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