In the past, the main responsibilities of the Human Resources department were administrative tasks and staff motivation. However, the HR function is increasingly becoming a strategic asset that enables more efficient processes and helps avoid potential threats, especially when adapting to new legislation, such as the GDPR.
The historical role of human resources was responsive and to enforce company rules or perform administrative tasks, such as record keeping and payroll management. Human resources were not usually expected to anticipate possible upcoming problems as well as ensuring that employees' daily needs were met. Rather than being a driving force, the HR manager's function was to fulfill the wishes emanating from top management.
While operational duties remain, the expectations for human resources have significantly increased these days. Organizations are beginning to realize the strategic value that human resources can provide in business decisions. As human resources are becoming a strategic partner for the management team, human resources are expected to increasingly contribute to the overall competitiveness, performance and profitability of the organization.
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The role of human resources has thus shifted from reactive to proactive. For example, it is vital to be able to analyze an employee's past performance and think of ways to develop and improve it. Attention is increasingly focused on the future: where the company is headed, what kind of culture and skills are needed to get there and what possible threats the company could face. In other words, human resources should plan and enable long-term strategies as well.
Creating long-term strategies always includes analyzing possible threats. The GDPR is a good example. While we recommend viewing the GDPR as an opportunity rather than a threat, human resources need to be well prepared for the new regulation. In addition to informing managers and employees of the change, the HR department must ensure compliance with the GDPR to prevent disputes and massive fines.
And it's not enough to make sure your organization is compliant. It is equally important to find an HR systems provider who is truly GDPR compliant and keeps your data safe at all times. With the emergence of the GDPR, simply choosing a supplier is no longer enough: you need to find a partner who also offers a compliant and safe product. A good HR solution helps HR perform their strategic function by providing reports and analytics that help make the business more efficient, further supporting the strategic role of HR.
In addition to protecting your business from bad publicity and hefty fines, the GDPR can also be used as a stepping stone to long-term discussions. It can be used to raise awareness of privacy and how personal data is managed in the company, i.e. who has access to what information and why. Such discussion can and should originate from HR, while having a strong impact on the rest of the company, making the GDPR a great example of how HR can support and develop the organization and its long-term strategy.
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