HR Leads Business

Jun 7, 2021 | Amy S. Dufrane, Ed.D., SPHR, CAE, CEO of HRCI

Navigating Modern HR: A Conversation With Lars Schmidt

Legacy playbooks no longer apply to modern human resources practice, but that hasn’t stopped HR professionals from forging ahead and raising the standard for their performance. Here to help HR practitioners develop new processes for the modern world is Lars Schmidt, author of “Redefining HR” and mastermind behind its accompanying platform, the Redefining HR Accelerator

We're excited to announce that Schmidt will be joining us at HRCI's Higher Standard: How Organizations Return, Re-Engage, Re-Train and Retain Their Workforce micro-summit, where he'll share his insights into HR's role in a post-COVID-19 world.

We sat down with Schmidt to discuss the current challenges facing modern HR and the next steps HR professionals must take to keep pace with change.

What is today's biggest HR challenge?

The biggest challenge — and opportunity — right now is designing the post-COVID "now" of work. That, for many companies, is going to be rooted in flexibility. Hybrid work is the most visible example, and there are variations within hybrid work in terms of how it's structured and how flexible it is. It's clear, based on survey data, that employees want flexibility. They want choice. 

And that, historically, is not something we've been great at in HR. We tend to operate from a legacy perspective, from playbooks and set structures that employees have to fit themselves into. Now we're entering this new era of personalization. The companies that get really good at building programs that prioritize flexibility and choice will have a considerable advantage for talent. Conversely, companies that try to revert to a past that no longer exists will struggle to hold onto talent.

Without legacy playbooks, what's guiding modern HR professionals?

We are. Not me, but the collective of the community. More guidance, learning and direction are coming from peer-to-peer collaboration and sharing than any time in history. The field is becoming more and more sophisticated and less and less insular. It's a much better model for how we work, especially now — things are changing so rapidly, and legacy organizations just aren't equipped to keep pace. They're not on the front lines anymore, but we practitioners are.

It used to be very difficult to get people to share what they do and how they do it openly, and that's not the case anymore. Companies and HR leaders are much more comfortable sharing their templates, toolkits, practices, learning and failures. The peer-to-peer communities and networks are where the ideas and practices of the future will come from. They're able to build that in real time because they have to. The feedback from that is much more valuable than looking at legacy playbooks. There's no single source of truth anymore.

What should modern HR professionals be doing right now?

The most important immediate action is to pay attention to what's happening. The demands of the job have never been greater, and the weight of that role, the inertia can pull you down into your work and not allow you to pay attention to what other companies are doing, what trends are taking place, what technology is emerging.

We've always known how important our job is; the world knows that now, especially going through the events of 2020. We have business standing that finally mirrors how we view ourselves: so many different things, all centered on HR and people. We've gotten a lot better at having more open and honest dialogue around mental health through the pandemic. 

Some of your employees are really doubling down on their own mental health and well-being. That's going to remain a priority for them and be a driving factor throughout their career in terms of where they work and who they work for. They're no longer going to work for companies that look at it as an afterthought.

Join HRCI on June 17 at 1 p.m. EST for the Higher Standard: How Organizations Return, Re-Engage, Re-Train and Retain Their Workforce micro-summit, a FREE three-hour event with a distinguished panel of HR experts. Register today.