Eight ways to really put the Human back into HR

The head of the CIPD, Peter Cheese, outlined several themes, which are shaping the future of work, in a typically engaging and authoritative speech entitled ‘Putting the Human back into HR’ at Leading the Way, a joint Acas, CIPD and Liverpool Law Society conference at the Museum of Liverpool on December 1st.  I have summarised some of the key points below.

1 Globalisation and economic change

The former Global Managing Partner for Accenture told the assembled that: “agility, ability to change and adaptability are [now] watch words’.

2 Technology and digital

Peter identified four key areas: Social, Media, Analytics and Cloud or SMAC as he memorably put it in a simple acronym.  He described how technological innovation had gone from improving non-customer facing processes to being a massive disrupter with the power to radically change the way we do things.  For more information on these technological developments I would strongly recommend reading Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat: The Globalized World in the Twenty-First Century, which provides a host of insights into how organisations and individuals around the globe are embracing technological change in previously unimaginable ways.

3 Workforce and demographics

The Chief Executive of the CIPD explained how Generations Y & Z are shaping business.  Members of Generation Z, like his youngest daughter, are digital natives; they have grown up with sophisticated computers, smartphones and the like and are, consequently, totally at home using them.  Those of us belonging to Generation Y or older generations are digital immigrants; in effect we are coming to terms with this powerful new technology on its myriad platforms like anyone might learn a second language later in life.  The way employers engage with these different generations is critical to their long-term success.

Members of Generation Z can expect to have between fifteen to twenty jobs during their careers.  He noted how the UK needs to invest in lifelong learning, like the Nordic Countries have, to train and re-train  its workforce.


There are several Liver birds, a famous symbol of the city, in the Museum of Liverpool. To find out more click here.

4 Bespoke external recruitment is required

The lead author of The Talent-Powered Organisation, described how the traditional approach of asking a seventeen year old (a member of Generation Z) for a CV with their work experience was pointless.

When recruiting more experienced workers, he urged employers to think chiefly about how their recruits would align with their business, measuring how long they stay as an indication of success rather than solely the cost of recruiting them in the first place as has traditionally been the case.

5 Promote on management ability not just technical competence

Peter acknowledged how: “typically technical competence [has been] revered” but that people endowed with that competence have not always been blessed with the same people management skills.

6 The employment relationship needs to be re-thought

Peter stressed the importance of four pillars supporting the above relationship: voice, wellbeing, engagement and diversity.  The final point he articulated was “not just about political correctness, but a source of innovation.”

7 If you count one thing, count your people

The head of the CIPD quoted Albert Einstein: ‘Not everything that counts is counted and not everything that is counted counts.’

The former chair of the Institute of Leadership and Management described how there are/is often: “too much data, not enough information”.  He made a compelling appeal for organisations to count not just their full-time employees but their contractors too.

“John Maynard Keynes said a hundred years that we would all be working fifteen hours per week [now]…  Many of us work fifteen hours a day.”

8 Return to the Triple Bottom Line and beyond

He cited how many companies were the returning to the Triple Bottom Line and suggested that they could go one step further and embrace a “Quadruple Bottom Line of people, profit, planet and purpose.”





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