Changing HR operating models

01 February 2015
Published: February 2015
This collection of thought pieces brings together a number of lead thinkers; academics, practitioners and consultants who are active in the debate about the future of the HR function. We asked them to talk about HR operating models from various angles to provide a summary of the key themes for HR practitioners.
We support the view that there is not one model for delivering HR that is suited to all organisations. How an organisation should structure its HR function depends on its organisational strategy, wider organisational structure and the requirements of its customers and the organisation it is supporting. These things can be influenced by other factors such as size and maturity of the organisation. Potentially there are some principles that can be applied in all organisations.
Decisions about how to structure the function should be taken using a rigorous approach to organisational design, starting by looking at the organisation holistically rather than straight at the HR function.
You should ask the following questions:
  • Does your organisation have a clear organisation strategy?
  • Is your organisation structured to deliver this strategy?
  • Do you have a clear HR strategy that is aligned with your organisation’s strategy?
  • Does your HR structure replicate your business structure?
  • Is your HR structure set up to deliver your HR strategy?
  • Do you understand the capabilities your organisation needs to deliver upon its strategy?
  • Will the decisions above withstand change?
You should also consider:
  • Who are your clients and what do they need?
  • What capabilities do you need within HR and how might these be organised into roles? How can these capabilities be developed?
  • How will the different roles work together?
  • How can you use technology to improve processes and your client experience?
  • To what extent might you want to outsource some of your HR activities?
  • What role will your line managers be playing and do they have the required capabilities?
  • How will you evaluate and measure HR’s performance?
  • 'A modern HR operating model: the world has changed' - Josh Bersin, Bersin by Deloitte
  • 'The future is ‘centres of expertise’. What impact has 18 years of the Ulrich model had on the HR operating model and what does it tell us about the future?' - Allan Boroughs, Orion Consulting
  • '‘You can’t put in what God left out’: not everyone can be a strategic HR business partner' - Nick Holley, Henley Business School
  • 'The strategic role of HR' - John W. Boudreau and Edward E Lawler III, University of Southern California
  • 'Cloud technology in the HR operating model' - Gareth Williams, Travelex
  • 'Will the cloud have a silver lining for HR outsourcing?' - Andrew Spence, Glass Bead Consulting
  • 'Reflecting on the past and looking to the future: the importance of business structure' - Dave Ulrich, Ross Business School, University of Michigan and RBL Group
  • 'Owning our HR Operating Model: an enterprise centred Organisational Design methodology for HR' - Barry Fry, Slumbering Giants and Anton Fishman
  • 'What does the future of HR look like in an SME?' - Jill Miller, CIPD
  • 'Living in a collaborative world: implications for HR operating models' - Professor Paul Sparrow, Lancaster Business School
Download the full report below
Changing HR operating models - PDF report.pdf (2 MB) Research Report - PDF