The Future of HR in Times of Digitisation

October 6, 2017 Armin Trost


Probably the biggest mistake HR is doing is starting with the solution. Once we agree on implementing a solution such as performance appraisal, employee survey, employer brand, talent programs HR cares about the design of the solution. Then, very often the solution clashes with the cultural and structural context of the organisation. Things do not fit to the social dynamics in business reality. At the end we wonder what the initial problem might have been the solution is supposed to solve.


Good HR means always to start with the people-related problem. Further thinking about the solution and its design then must go along with the current or future context of the company. How is leadership, collaboration? What are the underlying company values? What’s the role of the HR-function?


When it comes to the role of the HR-function given a certain context, there are three extreme options. Do we just hire and compensation the people and simply do nothing else? No processes, systems, tools, programs, KPIs and whatsoever. Or, do we (HR) centrally plan and control all people-related issues? Or, do we enable our employees and teams to take care for their own issues in a self-determined way? In times of growing complexity, dynamics, uncertainty and change the last option is probably the most suitable one.


People-centric enablement leads to completely different approaches throughout the entire HR landscape compared to the traditional, centrally planned and controlled one. Teams use their existing networks to actively convince and hire new colleagues. Learning is about learning to learn at work. People and teams are responsible for both their learning and their long-term career development. Teams define objectives by themselves whenever it seems to be useful. People actively ask for feedback given by customers instead of waiting for feedback given by their supervisors one time in a year. The list is endless.


It is not about leaving people alone. It is neither about getting rid of the HR-function. It is rather about providing anything, which is seen as being helpful from the employees’ perspective. Delivering a good employee experience instead of centrally managing the human resource.


About the Author

Armin Trost

Professor Armin Trost is an industrial and organisational psychologist with a doctoral degree in philosophy. He lectures and researches at the HFU Business School in Furtwangen, Germany, focusing primarily on talent management, employer branding and the future of work.

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