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Companies are increasingly discovering the strategic benefits of a less centralized human resources (HR) function. Rather than keeping HR isolated as a centralized team, this model embeds HR practitioners inside the business functions they support, allowing them to integrate more deeply into business units. Contemporary HR is now more focused on providing strategic value to drive business outcomes. Several organizations’ HR practices reflect this shift in approach. At Square, veteran HR executive Bryan Power understood that new leaders’ success would be largely driven by his team’s ability to get them trained as managers as quickly as possible. So he enlisted the company’s top executives to teach manager training modules. “When managers think of these people challenges as their own issues to resolve, rather than issues for HR to solve,” says Power, “that ownership and accountability transforms the organization.” Mattel, for instance, brought in a new chief people officer last year to transform its organization and modernize its capabilities. Amy Thompson instituted a new leader-led model of HR, where managers are given the support to evaluate the talent and capability health of their organizations and then develop the people strategy alongside their HR business partners. This shift toward collaborative talent mapping put the planning focus on leaders and allowed HR to focus on more strategic initiatives to support the business. “Especially in a creative industry like ours, talent core and inseparable from our corporate and brand strategies, so we need our leaders to own both,” says Thompson. “This allows the HR role to become a more consultative function with a much higher business impact than in the past.” At constantly-growing Equinox, HR had to find a way to partner with field operations. So the People Services teams created the frameworks for HR services and then worked directly with their general managers and field leaders to implement them locally. One of the advantages of driving this adoption is that all general managers are hired from within, so their familiarity with the operational standards, culture, HR practices and programs allows for autonomy and continuity.

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