Industry Insights

The 5 Trends in Human Resources Organization Design

Posted by April Giarla on Jul 6, 2016 1:07:00 PM

Along with every other department, HR is finding the ever-increasing need to adapt to evolving needs in today's modern business world. 

A recent post from DisruptiveHR describes some new trends in the HR Organization Design in response to these new challenges. Here are some key insights from that post that ring true: 

From Business Partner to Account Management

Human Resources Business partners are harder and harder to come by these days. Given this resource is both scarce and expensive, we are seeing a move to reducing the number of them and moving towards more of an account management role. This person does the strategic and commercial parts of the role, the relationship building, the diagnosis of what’s required, the resource planning and the oversight of the delivery.

HR Advisory - More than a Transaction 

Outsourcing HR services and treating them as a simple transaction has become a norm in the HR world, however, many in the profession have noticed several flaws in handing over HR processes to an outside source. In response to this, we are seeing a new trend of next generation outsourced providers who are fundamentally different.

One example of this is Adviser Plus ( who have built in an intrinsic understanding of the value and risks of HR advisory into their service – for example, providing a proactive phone call to a manager who is downloading a policy document that can be more high risk if they get it wrong, such as redundancy policy – and seeing if they want to talk anything through. HR advisory will continue to offer significant opportunities for outsourcing – but with a new style of approach that involves empathy, understanding, capability development and the ability to assess risk.

Employee Experience not Centers of Expertise 

One critique of Centers of Expertise teams is that they are too focused on their own discipline and producing the perfect recruitment, talent, development, diversity, etc. and fail to connect to the needs of the business. By refocusing on the actual employee experience that is desired at each stage of the employee life cycle, organizations can create a more holistic employee proposition that is greater than the sum of its HR parts. 

Building Capability not just Compliance

 This trend comes largely through a fresh response to a disrupted world where the abundance of employment policies and rules often stifle innovation and increase frustration of employees. The role of HR as The Enforcer is not what many who went into the HR profession wanted but is one they have continued to play. Of course rules matter. But anyone who has had to draft interminable employment policies recognize that this comes at a cost – to HR's capacity to focus on building the capabilities of line managers. 

Companies such as Netflix are now steering their HR teams clear of focusing on compliance and pushing teams to be innovative and creative.

Contingent vs. Permanent 

HR has regularly deployed contractors, temps, and consultants to supplement or enhance FTE levels. But HR has rarely used them as a strategic choice – more as a tactical fill in. The accelerated pace of innovation in the HR space, the continued pressure on costs and the need to deploy rapidly to resolve issues or bring about change all lead you to question whether a standing army of HR people is relevant in the future. This trend is about “Smart Contingency” – a belief that you can get a better level of innovation, a better resource flow and increased delivery capability if you include non-permanent resources as a key part of your HR team.

How to get your HR teams ready for these challenges? 

After working with various leaders in the HR field to help them and their teams develop the skills they need to face modern challenges in the business world, we have found that immersing them in a business simulation environment provides great results:  it sharpens their strategic thinking while providing an engaging and emotional experience that expands their mind-sets.  

One particular example from our experience included collaborating with HR leaders of a top industrial company to help them become trusted advisors to the business, and using experiential learning such as business simulations to help instill these skills has been vital in their success.

Article excerpts from

More Insights

What is Learning in the Flow of Work?

In today's fast-paced business world, ensuring your employees...

Learn More

Managers are becoming mentors

Mentoring helps employees develop confidence, skills and...

Learn More

Identifying and developing high potential employees

High potential employees are the future of your organization....

Learn More

How to Lead and Manage Diverse and International Teams

In today's global business landscape, adeptly managing a team...

Learn More

Get the most out of your remote workforce

Remote working has become the norm in many organizations and...

Learn More

Why healthy workplaces matter

There are many elements that combine to make a healthy...

Learn More