How HR Can Be the Bridge Between the Centuries

HR is on a metaphorical bridge between the centuries.

Some HR professionals — many, perhaps most — work for legacy companies struggling to make the transition from 20th century workforce practices to those of today. Others are on the other side of that bridge, working for companies solidly in the 21st century. “The question is,” says Natalya Sverjensky, a partner at at Within People, “How do you bridge that divide?”

Sverjensky poses that question to her DisruptHR audience after listing the ways that work today has changed  from that of the 2oth century. For most of the last century, factory work was the nation’s economic engine. Maximizing efficiency was the goal. Now, citing one analysis of modern work, Sverjensky says 84% of the S&P market value is intangible. Maximizing value is now the key goal.

“People are sort of stuck between these two roles”; between the legacy business of the past and the business of the 21st century. “That’s where all of you come in,” she says. Start by modeling the change, by asking:

  1. Where you can give people more freedom and flexibility.
  2. How to increase individual responsibility.
  3. What can you unlearn?

You won’t become a change expert in 5 minutes, but you may be inspired to begin making small changes that can lead across the bridge.

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