Dow’s Johanna Soderstrom: HR’s biggest challenge is handling change

HR professionals must learn to deal with the high speed changes within business, work and the economy if they are to succeed.

Dow corporate vice president of human resources and aviation Johanna Soderstrom warned that HR had become stuck in a rut and need to embrace new ways of working.

This includes HR analytics – which she revealed along with giving valuable insights was capable of freeing up valuable work time for people leaders.

“Probably the biggest challenge for HR today is how quickly we’re changing – companies, markets, everything is changing around us,” she told HRD Connect.

“But HR is a little bit stuck in where we are, how we’re doing things and how we’re used to doing things. We really have to evolve the way we do HR in companies, we have to evolve our HR skills as well.

“It’s a very different world to how it used to be,” she added.

Part of this has been the need for HR to develop to me a more strategic and business centred function – something which is still on the way.

“I think HR is much more than hire and develop and retire the workforce,” she continued.

“I think HR is all about making business sense – that’s what we have to learn. We have to become more business savvy and I think many of us are on the way there but many haven’t yet figured it out.”

 

Listen to the full interview with Johanna Soderstrom

 

Analytics goldmine

Speaking earlier at the European HR Directors Summit, Soderstrom revealed that Dow had been an early investor in HR analytics and had used it to help predict future people moves.

However, she revealed some of the other benefits to HRD Connect.

“When others were just talking about it we started to play around with it and we got so carried away with it that we actually went and developed our own solution because it wasn’t there, it wasn’t on the marketplace,” she continued.

“What happened is we probably hit the goldmine for the HR profession and the function in our company, because we could liberate a lot of the HR resources from the excel spreadsheets and we could also liberate our people leaders away from being masters in pivot tables and actually generate much more value in how we help the organisation make better decisions.”

Ebay and Dow predict the future with HR analytics

 

Developing learning

Another area which Soderstrom believes will see significant progress is within learning and development.

The days of training being restricted to just the traditional classroom environment may well be over and HR should be diving into the possibilities for new methods.

“I think the learning management system is another of those future things we have to figure out in the company to do it right.

“If you just look at the potential of gamification for example, how fun is it to learn through playing games? You don’t have to be a millennial to love playing games, it has nothing to do with that, but peer-to-peer learning, I just think that’s an unlocked potential,” she concluded.

HR at risk of becoming a support function

 

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