Mega HR Trends for 2017 and Beyond – Perspectives on the Future of the Workplace from #SHRM16: Businessification

Second in a Series

In the first blog of this series on Mega HR Trends in 2017 and Beyond – Perspectives on the Future of the Workplace from #SHRM16, mega HR trend #1 was the power of connecting.

In this second blog of the mega HR trends series, the second key trend is the businessification (OK I know that’s not really a word, but it SHOULD be, right?) of HR.  Getting a seat at the table of the C-suite is not a new concept for HR. However, it’s clear that tremendous progress has been made toward this objective of the profession.  Strategy, business acumen, leadership, big data – all these have become integral to the toolkit expected of HR pros.

The main crux of the businessification of HR falls into four key themes:

  • Strategy;
  • Leadership;
  • Business acumen; and
  • Data, analytics and metrics (oh my!).

Each of these will be key areas of focus and priority in the coming years for the HR profession; #SHRM16 offered numerous opportunities to upskill and support those in HR with these critical skills.


Jennifer McClure, President of Unbridled Talent, LLC, wowed a mega session crowd of over 1000 HR pros with her session on The Future of HR: Four Strategies to Meet Business Challenges and Deliver Maximum Impact on Results.

McClure focused on the evolution of competencies necessary for effective HR leadership and where HR can deliver maximum business impact. She stressed that to thrive in the business environment of the future, the competencies and capabilities of HR professionals must evolve – HR leaders who master these business skills will deliver more value and find greater executive support.

One of her key points, and a real theme for the #SHRM16 conference and the HR profession in general, is nicely summed in this tweet from CareerBuilder:mcclure business leader tweet

Many other sessions addressed a wide range of strategic HR issues, such as:

No doubt, HR as a strategic business driver is here and HR pros need to ensure strategic skills are included in their department’s toolkit.


SHRMStore sales at the conference bear out the importance of leadership skills among HR pros.  Andi Cale, manager of the SHRMStore, wrote “Leadership Books Lead the Pack at #SHRM16,” offering a glimpse into the focus and challenges of HR professionals, and the tools they are looking for to help meet their needs.

Cale noted: “This year, while many HR topics stood out—employee relations, compliance and performance management, to name a few—the one topic that beat all others was leadership. Books that dealt with transitioning from manager to leader, understanding and cultivating your personal brand, and building trust were among the top sellers.” These top sellers included such titles as Defining HR Success: 9 Critical Competencies for HR Professionals and Make Change Work: Staying Nimble, Relevant, and Engaged in a World of Constant Change.

Clearly, attendees were looking for resources to help build on leadership and business acumen topics covered in the conference. Leadership topics were the focus of several sessions, such as:

Knowledge isn’t always enough – it’s what you do with that knowledge.  And that’s where leadership skills come in.

Business Acumen

The importance of understanding the business and helping drive business results are now key competencies for HR professionals and will continue to be. With new SaaS tools driving employee self-service and increasingly automated workplace workflows, HR departments have proportionally fewer transactional activities and increasing business, strategic and advisory functions. Not only does HR help support business objectives but an effective HR operation can be instrumental, and often critical, to the success of the business. Being able to track and show the return on investment (ROI) in human capital (or alternatively, change course if the ROI isn’t there) is a professional imperative.

Numerous speakers tackled various perspectives here to help attendees:

HR MBA anyone?

Data, Analytics and Metrics (Oh My!)

There’s been an almost overwhelming flurry of developments and new resources to leverage big data as a business insight resource. Most workplaces, at some level, have electronic systems that are, or could be, tapped for insights into workforce trends. Raw data abounds, but doesn’t offer much value in its unprocessed state.  The challenge is analyzing to cull these systems, or installing plug-ins to existing systems, to garner actionable intelligence. Reports and analytics are increasingly commonplace as a means to gain descriptive (summarizing), predictive (predicting the future) or prescriptive (prescribing an action) analytics to help with strategies and business decisions.

Regardless where your workplace stands on embracing analytics and big data, Jennifer McClure’s tweet summarizes nicely the impact on the HR professional:

mcclure digitial mindset tweet

Sessions such as these were standing room only at #SHRM16, and no wonder!

With 43 sessions in #SHRM16’s Business Acumen and HR Strategy track, clearly HR has increasing remit on workplace strategies and driving business results.  HR as a profession is certainly evolving to be more challenging, but also more fun!

Other XpertHR blog posts relating to these matters include:

Photo Credits: Twitter – CareerBuilder – Jennifer McClure.


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