The HR function, from a support centre to a service centre

The HR function is evolving towards a service role with its own service tools and objectives. How do you make this transition?
What does "Service Center" mean for the HR function?
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The HR function has been clearly shaken up by the Covid crisis. It has had to adapt to a constantly changing environment and meet the new demands of the labour market. More than a key function for the company's strategic management, it now also intervenes on an individual level with the company's employees. So what is the role of the HR function since the crisis?

The changing labour market and the challenges faced by HR

For several years now, the labour market has been undergoing changes that have intensified or accelerated with the Covid crisis: labour shortages, reorganisation of work, digitalisation of processes, maintenance of social dialogue, etc.

The health crisis has considerably changed the relationship between employees and managers. Companies have had to review and adapt their HR strategy to meet these new challenges. The HR function has had to find new organizations, methods and resources that are compatible with the post-Covid changes in the labor market. This includes the transformation of work methods, talent and mobility management, the emergence of new recruitment methods, new management models for skills, ...

The pandemic has therefore highlighted the importance of the HR function and the challenges of managing human capital. HR functions have been positioned at the heart of these changes and have thus emerged as key elements in the decision-making process within the company.

What are the impacts of work organization on the HR function?

The impacts are an extension of their prerogatives, more particularly the well-being of employees, the enrichment of training modalities, the adaptation of performance objectives.

It is clear that HR functions also need to be supported in the new forms of work. A study conducted by the Cegos Group in 2021 indicates that 77% of HR professionals say that the health crisis has changed the way their function is organized and 61% have seen their work schedules explode since the crisis.

HR professionals have been impacted by the crisis as much as their employees. They too have had to integrate these new visions and work organization. And it is essential to take them into account to best support them in their missions.

Increasing the number of functions for a global HR management

To face the new challenges introduced by the health crisis, HR functions have learned to play on several levels at once. The HR function has thus developed by taking on a variety of missions and profiles.

Beyond their central role within the company's management, the HR function has become specialized and has become an expert in certain HR management missions: training, recruitment, management of skills, talent retention, etc. From marketer to lawyer to communicator to IT specialist, HR functions now wear many hats. In addition, the digital transformation of the HR function requires constant adaptability and the emergence of new tasks.

The HR function is becoming more creative, more innovative and must be agile in crisis management.

Towards an organisation of the HR function as a service provider

To meet these new tasks, the HR function is now increasingly presented as a group of experts. This group of experts intervenes with the other departments of the company or group in the same way as an external consultancy firm might.

This is why some companies outsource or create SSCs (Shared Services Centres).

The role of the HR function is now to improve theexperience of employees who are dealing with an entity that is perceived almost as independent of the company. It has a role in supporting employees, the primary objective of which is often the attraction and retention of talent.

Thanks to a diversification of expertise, these HR specialists have increasingly specialized skills and must respond to increasingly specific problems.

To be able to cover all the subjects under its responsibility, the HR function must indeed acquire expert profiles or consultants and equip itself with advanced and specialised technological solutions.

Business agility at the HR function level

Agility is a very popular concept in companies. It is defined by the skill of a company to adapt to changes in an efficient, fast and continuous way by optimizing its resources, by collectively mobilizing its employees and by guaranteeing their fulfillment. In particular, it advocates multidisciplinary teams and values collaboration between members.

It is now a major challenge for HR functions to adopt (and adapt!) these agile methods to their practices.

Bringing agility to the HR functions would mean transposing this ability to react by giving employees the means to adapt to changes in the internal and external environments. However, HR functions have to deal with the constraints inherent to their field, both from a legal and organisational point of view for example. The Agile method must therefore be adapted to HR functions through digital transformation processes, decentralisation of functions, collaboration between departments, etc.