From the CEO: In the Decade of Human Capital, HR Must Lead

The business world is finally seeing what HR has always known-that talent is the key driver of success.

By Henry G. Jackson Jul 13, 2015

HR Magazine July/August 2015 A few short weeks ago, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) wrapped up its 2015 Annual Conference & Exposition. More than 15,000 HR professionals from around the globe converged in Las Vegas to focus on how our profession can thrive. For four sun-filled days, Las Vegas became the HR capital of the world.

I shared my belief that we are in the decade of human capital, a time when talent is seen as the real power behind business and organizations are drawing clearer lines between people strategies and business success.

Many signs point in this direction. When the Conference Board asked CEOs, presidents and board chairs about their most critical challenges, human capital topped the list. A survey by the SHRM Foundation and the Economist Intelligence Unit revealed a similar finding that people management is the lead challenge facing organizations for the foreseeable future. Moreover, the World Economic Forum recently commented that talent, not financial capital, would be the key link to “innovation, competitiveness and growth in the 21st century.”

Leaders everywhere are quickly recognizing that having the right talent is imperative in a complex and volatile world, where so many forces are beyond our control. Technology is raising the bar on the education and the skills that workers need. It is creating new jobs and industries, while making others obsolete. Businesses must therefore have effective strategies in place to find and develop the talent they need to succeed.

We have also been talking for years about the demographic shifts that are reshaping the workplace. Now Millennials are officially the largest generation in the workforce, and we are in the midst of the Baby Boomer retirement wave we predicted. For the first time in history, there are five generations in the workplace. Organizations need innovative approaches to manage and engage this new, increasingly diverse workforce.

Globalization is another megatrend that no organization can escape, no matter its size or location. It has expanded our options for where and when work gets done, as well as who we employ to do it. The search for talent has become borderless. Businesses need access to the best and brightest workers, wherever they are in the world.

All of this makes our job—finding, developing and engaging talent for business outcomes—the most critical aspect of business today. The features in this month’s HR Magazine, covering everything from managing conflict to boosting morale to the new role of “chief culture officers,” underscore the point: Demand for our people management expertise has never been higher.

The business world needs innovative HR leadership more than ever. Others are finally coming to understand, as we do, that great organizations are led by great HR professionals. SHRM is with you on this journey, and I encourage you to use the SHRM Competency Model as a guide.


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