The speed and volume of change over the last four years has propelled leaders into the future of business, and HR leaders have had to move the furthest and the fastest. They are the stewards and advocates of every organization’s most valuable resource: its people.

The pandemic turned traditional (and many outdated) business models upside down by shifting where, how and when people work. For employees with predominantly “desk jobs,” the future is more about how they are willing to work going forward. There is no going back.

How people are working now and how they’ll be working in the future remains a work in progress. What is certain is that HR should never again be viewed as a functional department. An organization’s people are its strategic superpower and key differentiator. A People strategy for the future must engage, activate, support and empower employees. HR is serious business, and it’s C-suite business.



To be successful at the C-suite table, People leaders need to look up. Invest time to understand the global dynamics that are changing how people work, live and communicate. People leaders can translate this big picture into a clear People picture that’s influencing their industries and organizations.

Here’s a five-point plan that People leaders can use to develop a People strategy for the future of business.

  1. Know the business plan, and their role in delivering results and accomplishing business goals. People leaders own values — the behavior contract between a business and its people. Values are at the top of the business plan, and that’s the right place to anchor and activate the People strategy.
  2. Integrate the People strategy across the business plan. Develop the strategy from the top down, not the bottom up. Stay focused on working the People plan. Let new priorities rise and let old habits fall out.
  3. Focus on work processes rather than fiddling with an org chart and rewriting job descriptions. Lead the organization to redesign how the most valuable work will get done. Guide discussions about what can be automated, what will be human and how these changes will advance the business.
  4. People leaders and their teams are often a company’s most trusted change champions. Leaders know the influencers, advocates and detractors across the organization. And they understand how to listen and activate change by engaging the full organization.
  5. People leaders are often viewed as the keepers of culture, and this may be their most important strategic duty. Their people are relying on them to change habits and beliefs up, down and across the organization. They are relying on People leaders to see them, hear them and advocate for them — especially in the C-suite, where very few people feel they have a voice.

The future of business is here. Transformation, innovation and growth are the mandate. This is the best time in history to be a People leader. To claim a place at the strategy table and be prepared to disrupt it all. Our people are counting on us.

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