No more box ticking, HR

Over the past 20 years, the Human Resources division of business has become, through no fault of its own, disconnected with the real purpose of its existence. Compliance, regulation and endless forms to adhere to have clouded the view of why people get into HR in the first place.

HR is about having impact on the business, through the lived values and engagement that its people, day in and day out, apply to their work, no matter their role.

That’s provided your leadership team is connected with and supportive of what true HR is about - cultivating a workplace that inspires and supports the people who work in it.

Yet having that impact through the business is not always a top priority from a leadership perspective. And despite lip service to internal values and culture, it often all boils down to process, process, process. Yet another box to tick, another compliance regulation to be met.

HR’s role is to bring heart to the organisation

HR is not about compliance and box ticking. It's about having real positive impact on real people that can ripple out across the business and develop unity, cohesion and most importantly, worklife satisfaction.

A perfect storm for influential change

In this uncertain climate, first with the step change that 21st technology systems and tools mean for the future of work, and now, more urgently with the heavy weight that the Covid pandemic has pushed on business, it can appear that having that passion for real change is an ideal and not in fact an achievable reality.

At this intersection, where legacy leadership is clearly outdated and new approaches are arguably necessary for survival, it is perhaps more important than ever for HR to steer the organisation, and most importantly, the leadership team, down the path that will lead to that impactful change.

Three strategic moves to win at the people game

How to do this? From a helicopter viewpoint, you need three key components:

The landscape you’re operating in; at least one real test case that demonstrates the opportunities for change, and contextual data insight that’s presented in the language of leadership.

Step one: Know where you are

The first step towards having impact is a solid view of where you are now - what the landscape of your business environment is, what are the external (and internal) forces that are impacting it now and what’s likely to be coming down the line in the near future.

This landscape view makes it easier to identify the vulnerabilities in your business, spot those real opportunities available and hone in on the big levers to pull inside and outside your organisation to get the greatest and most efficient result.

Step two: Steer by stealth

Your next move is to demonstrate your vision for change in your workplace. Design your framework for improved employee engagement and delegate that change to a small team to test it out.

Using agile methods and human centered design principles you can cultivate a test case without requiring massive overhaul across the business. You’ll gain true insight into what works and what doesn’t and garner engagement and involvement from the teams and people who have experienced the new possibilities.

It’s much harder to say no when there’s a test case that says yes.

Step three: Speak their language

Using the right language always makes it easier to connect. Acquire the language that your leadership team best responds to, use those levers you’ve identified to ignite curiosity and real interest in your vision. You must use facts that are founded in real data to define your rationale and results. These facts need to be completely relevant to your organisation - avoid the conceptual and idealistic and hit hard with the real data.

We get how hard this space in business can be. And we know that despite best intentions, the day to day can get in the way of your vision for change. But it’s about starting the journey and having the map so you can bring all that you want (and all that you have to do) into line with where you’re headed.


We can help with formulating your plan.

Tech Futures Lab has designed a short course that will help you to design the future you want for your organisation. A five-week Learning Sprint on Cultivating Contemporary Workplaces Learning Sprint taught by industry experts and innovative strategists who get HR.

The next course starts 12 August 2020, run at our Lab in Grafton, Auckland

Find out more >


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