Navigating the Future of HR: Reimagining Human Capability




Embark on a journey through the transformative insights and thought-provoking discussions from the HR Congress Horizon Summit 2023. This article encapsulates the essence of reimagining human capability, providing a compelling narrative that will resonate with HR professionals seeking to navigate the evolving landscape of the workplace.

The HR Congress Horizon Summit 2023, themed “Reimagining Human Capability,” unfolded as a crucible of thought-provoking discussions, revealing the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for HR professionals. As the summit explored the evolution of HR, speakers and participants engaged in open conversations that reflected on the past, dissected the present, and envisioned a future that places humanity at the core of the workplace.

Embracing Human Capability:

In the opening keynote by Otti Vogt and Antoinette Weibel, a poignant observation emerged: over the last three decades, HR may have lost some of its heart and soul in the relentless pursuit of aligning with the “business partner” discourse. This alignment, while intending to elevate HR’s strategic role, has inadvertently led to an increasingly instrumentalist future of work. The call to action resonates — it’s time to reflect. The danger, as highlighted, is that without a shift in approach, the future of work might exacerbate challenges for employees.

Unless we shift, the future of work will only amplify the troubles for our people.

otti vogt

The Heart of HR:

The essence of HR was echoed in various sessions, reminding attendees that HR is not merely a function; it’s about the value people derive from what HR does. Dave Ulrich emphasized that “HR is not what we do, it is what value people get because of what we do”. But HR cannot do it alone. Chris Roebuck emphasized that Human Capability development is the perfect opportunity for HR to be a catalyst to Accelerate Success and be seen as a profit centre, not a cost. But HR must provide a road map and support for leaders at all levels to make it happen. HR needs to engage leaders so Human Capability is an answer to their challenges. Michele Zanini, stressed the transition from managing to unleashing talent, fostering an environment where individuals contribute meaningfully. Michele quoted Mary Parker Follet “Leadership is not defined by the exercise of power but by the capacity to increase the sense of power among those led. The most essential work of the leader is to create more leaders”.

Navigating Complexity:

The summit addressed the complexities HR faces today, emphasizing that navigating the future requires a delicate balance. While there is a push for HR to align with organizational success, it’s crucial to recognize that the worth of HR professionals extends beyond consequential outcomes. The focus on long-term value creation, sustainability, and conscious organizational practices emerged as vital considerations.

Focus on Wellbeing:

A pervasive theme emerged on the summit: the profound importance of Wellbeing in the workplace. Key insights from various speakers underscored that Wellbeing is not merely a program but a holistic commitment to nurturing individuals. Shlomit Gruman-Navot, Adina Avram, and Dallas FitzPatrick with Reka Deak explored the intricate connection between inclusive workplaces, psychological safety, and overall Wellbeing. The discourse extended to Jacqueline Touw-Conradi’s demonstration of the Smart Simplicity Method, showcasing how sustainable change positively impacts the Wellbeing of an organization. This collective wisdom advocates for HR professionals to spearhead initiatives that prioritize Wellbeing, creating environments where individuals thrive, contribute meaningfully, and find fulfillment in the broader spectrum of work and life. These sessions provided a compass for navigating the evolving landscape, placing Wellbeing at the forefront of the future of work.

Shaping the Future of Work:

Several speakers provided insights into shaping the future of work. Jessica Richter highlighted the difference between “Static” and “Dynamic productivity,” emphasizing the need for adaptability. Jacqueline Touw-Conradi, Chief People Officer of Volksbank, unveiled the “System at Work! Shifting Focus for Sustainable Change” strategy. Demonstrating the Smart Simplicity Method, Touw-Conradi showcased impressive results, emphasizing the method’s tangible impact on driving lasting organizational change. In a dynamic presentation, Addie van Rooij, from Hewlett Packard Enterprise, highlighted “Empowering HR Excellence: Embracing Change, Automation, and AI-driven Career Advancement.” The session provided a snapshot of HPE’s agile HR approach, making it essential reading for professionals seeking insights into navigating change and leveraging technology for career growth.

Practical Insights and Learnings:

Practical insights emerged from diverse sessions. Wiesje ten Hoor suggested that performance management is more powerful when conducted at a team level, encouraging collective growth. Rahul Kalia cautioned against the demotivating effects of “rewarding the few” and Lynette Silva Heelan showcased the measurable business impact of cultivating a culture of gratitude. Charbel Noble, global learning and talent management director at Servier emphasized – “If you want sustainable change, train managers to have meaningful dialogue with their teams.” Giorgia Calabria’s narrative underscored Prologis Europe’s human-centric ethos. While boasting 60% female senior leaders, Prologis intriguingly operates without explicit DEI Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). This departure from traditional metrics signals a deliberate focus on fostering a culture and environment that authentically champions diversity and inclusion, transcending quantifiable measures.

Looking Forward:

The summit closed with a reflection on the imperative for HR to embrace professionalism, ethics, reflection, and balance. It underscored the importance of aligning actions with the core mission of serving people within organizations. The challenge presented was clear: HR must evolve without losing its heart and soul, finding a balance between strategic alignment and preserving the human touch.

In conclusion, the HR Congress Horizon Summit 2023 served as a platform for introspection, learning, and inspiration. It beckoned HR professionals to navigate the evolving landscape with a renewed commitment to human capability, ethical practices, and a vision for a workplace that prioritizes people. As the summit came to an end, the collective call echoed: together, let’s explore new horizons and pave the way for a brighter future of work.

Mark your calendar for next year: HORIZON SUMMIT 2024 | 5-6 November, Amsterdam!

Written by: Mihaly Nagy

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