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Tech allows HR specialists to focus on becoming more strategic business advisors

Updated: May 8, 2023

An interview with, Maarten Hansson, Global Head of integrated workforce management at Novartis.


What happens when technology meets HR, what are the trends in human resources and have the strategies really changed so much compared to 10 years ago? Let’s see in today’s interview.

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If you were to do a comparative analysis, how did HR strategies look like 10 years ago vs in the present? The good and the bad as well. 

I am actually pretty sceptical about how HR is (not) progressing actually. Tech, Globalisation and innovation are disrupting the way work is organized. Remaining to be only focussed on ‘Human Resources’ reduces the real value that can be added. It is about time that in general the role of the HR function drastically changes.

What does an employee do in HR in 2023? 

Typically the same as 10 years ago. Supporting the business with managing employees in-, within- and out of the organization.

Which are the mandatory assets that a specialist connected to today's HR trends should have?

HR specialists should have business acumen and the ability to look broader at organizing work, instead of just managing people. Translating the business strategy into a work strategy (not just people), implement and execute/ deliver. Continuously optimizing the operating model, as lean as possible using automation and technology.

"Tech allows HR specialists to focus on becoming more strategic business advisors."

How will technology and human resources blend in the future, in your point of view?

I believe already many HR processes are, or can be, automated. Tech allows HR specialists to focus on becoming more strategic business advisors, using facts and data. The role of an operational human touch in HR is diminishing.

What is your intake on hybrid work modes, which is such a post-pandemic debated subject?

We tend to get distracted by these discussions. The ultimate objective should be increased productivity and customer satisfaction. For that to happen we need to organize our work in the best way possible. The work requirements, policies and i.e. local legislation drives what the model should be. A hybrid working policy is therefore not a goal itself, but a result of required and allowed work strategy.

What does the ideal work environment look like in 2023? 

Best possible worker (any worker; employee or external worker) experience, best possible manager (business) experience. This leads to increased productivity.

If you were to make a top of the most important aspects in HR these days, how would this top look like? 

✔️ Reinvent the Human Resources function. Into something like a: Work & Organization function.

✔️ Broaden the scope to include all solutions to get work organized. Like external work(force), shared services and automation, many more contributing to your organization on a day-to-day basis.

✔️ Introduce LEAN problem solving and Work(force) advisory as mandatory capabilities.

What impact HR will have in combating the recession? 

By creating and implementing an agile work(force) strategy.

What is the coolest thing you have read lately? 

If you were to give a piece of advice to any business right now, what would that be? 

Invest in Integrated Workforce management; workforce management as a systemic practice. Setup a dedicated program to design and implement this cross-functionally.

You can meet Maarten Hansson at HR Masters Summit 2023. He will talk about how to reinvent your work(force) strategy or, simply put, on how to get work done best.

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