Memory Nguwi (MN) conducted an insightful Q & A session with Dave Ulrich (DU), delving into the intricacies of Navigating the Future of HR in a Post-Pandemic World.
MN: In your extensive research and experience, what do you believe are the biggest challenges facing HR professionals today, and how can they overcome them?
DU: Some of the challenges are the same principles (to create value), but they are evolving. Value created is not just inside the firm with employees, but also outside with many stakeholders both inside and out.
MN: As the field of HR continues to evolve, what skills and competencies do you think will be most crucial for HR professionals to possess in the future?
DU: We have tested which HR competnecies deliver personal effectiveness, stakeholder value and business results. Our research with 28,500 respondents using a 360 shows 5 domains and 14 specific skills. We define them as “verbs” not “nouns” because they focus on action.
MN: Many organizations struggle with effectively measuring the impact of their HR initiatives. What advice would you give to HR leaders on how to demonstrate the value and ROI of their programs?
DU: We have seen four ways of HR analytics … from benchmarking to best practice to predictive analytics and now to guidance. Guidances tell business and HR leaders where to focus to deliver value to stakeholders. So, the analytics is not what someone does, but the impact of the activity on outcomes. We have called this an organization guidance system: https://www.rbl.net/services/organization-guidance-system
MN: Diversity and inclusion have become increasingly important topics in the workplace. How can HR leaders foster a culture of diversity and inclusion within their organizations, and what role should they play in driving these initiatives?
DU: We have seen four waves of diversity, from numbers to programs to strategy to changing assumptions. When the ssumptions of  everyone has something to offer and  leaders have the job of making sure everyone’s offering counts exist, diversity is more likely to be sustained: https://www.hrdconnect.com/2021/01/11/now-is-the-time-changing-assumptions-to-build-sustainable-dei/
MN: The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the way we work. How do you see the role of HR evolving in a post-pandemic world, and what strategies should HR leaders adopt to support remote work and hybrid work models?
DU: Often we think about where someone works (going to and from work) as a place. Hyrbrid shifts the discussion what value is created for others as a result of work. It matters less where one works and more what value they create for customers wherever they work.
MN: Employee engagement is a critical aspect of organizational success. What strategies or best practices would you recommend for HR professionals to enhance employee engagement and create a positive work environment?
DU: We have also seen an evolution of employee sentiment around work, from satisfaction to motivation to commitment to engagement to experience to well being. We see employees wanting to get their needs met from where, what, and how they are working.We have seen four fundamental needs that employees want and companies can offer?
MN: Technology is rapidly transforming the HR landscape. What are your thoughts on the role of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation in HR processes, and how can HR professionals leverage these technologies effectively while maintaining a human touch?
DU: HR can and should use technology (AI, robots, automation, etc.) to do four things, or go through four phases:
Even as digital HR enables efficiency (phase 1), innovation (phase 2), and information (phase 3), the emerging impact of digital HR will enhance connection. Being connected overcomes loneliness (social isolation) and underlies employee experience. The need for connection is high as the global pandemic has create social distancing and as recent research has found that social isolation increases mortality rates more than smoking, obesity, or substance abuse. Connection defines employee experience by drawing on attachment theory. Attachment theory essentially states that when someone has strong emotional attachment, personal well-being increases, which in turn increases personal productivity and overall organizational performance. The HR digital agenda needs to evolve to focus on emotional attachment or connection
MN: Succession planning is crucial for long-term organizational sustainability. What steps should HR leaders take to identify and develop high-potential employees for leadership roles within their organizations?
DU: Building next generation leadership is always critical. It starts by defining the requirements of the position, not a review of individuals. This means focus on the context and challenges that face an organization, then defining the leadership competencies to respond. With these competencies define, people can be assessed agains them and prepared to move into more senior roles.
MN: Ethics and integrity are fundamental values that should guide all aspects of an organization's operations, including HR practices. How can HR professionals ensure ethical decision-making and promote a culture of integrity within their organizations?
DU: Values, ethics, integrate are the foundations of any organization. Without clarity of values and ethical behavior, trust does not occur. HR professionals can ndd should be the guardian of values.