Where is your company in the HR evolution (Darwin style)?

August 8, 2023

HR innovation is necessary to become and remain competitive. Yet the majority of companies do not seem to embrace this idea. Why not?

Recently I initiated a few HR ChangeMakers events. I had found a company to sponsor the events, invited thirty prominent and successful CHROs from various multinationals, and facilitated the workshops. How can we help to innovate HR? How can I help?

HR No Brainers

In the past year, I noticed in my coaching practice that in the majority of organisations the HR leaders and their teams still deal with topics, systems, and methods that I thought every company had already implemented years ago. For example, there are still organisations that do not have a central HR system or that still do not have onboarding tools. Unfortunately the HR leaders of these companies often still have to convince the management team of the return on investment of what I believe to be absolute HR no brainers, such as a referral program.

In order to remain competitive in the current labour market, the transformation from outdated HR practices to modern employership is not a nice to have, but an absolute must.

In addition, a continuous HR evolution in the field of work culture, working environment, leadership, HR methodologies, HR technology landscape, etc., is necessary for a company to become a loved brand. Loved by both - the customer and the employee. Everyone knows that by now, right? Unfortunately, the opposite turns out to be true.

The HR Darwin Evolution Model

I also noticed that within our community there are still plenty of senior HR executives who struggle every day to gain internal support for “new” HR initiatives. The same initiatives that were implemented in successful companies years ago, where they are considered the minimum standard.

In these companies, HR is often leading the strategic discussions and overseeing the workflows around “The future of Work”. I decided to ask CHROs and HR suppliers with a successful track record what exactly they have done to get HR to the right level in their organisation and what lessons they can share about innovating HR.

One of the things I wanted to align on were the typical HR topics that characterise a certain period in time and design a visual as a tool. Using the simple overview, HR professionals around the world can immediately recognise in which phase of HR development an organisation – a kind of ‘Darwin HR evolution model’. The model helps you explain to your HR team and CEO what next steps can be taken in the further development of the HR organisation in order to take people & culture to the next level. It can help HR leaders with drafting the HR strategic plan, creating a sense of urgency, and with building a business case for extra investment.

The Christmas Turkey

Innovating HR is really necessary to become and remain competitive. How come it seems that only the successful multinationals and scale-ups do so, but the majority of companies are behind the curve? I asked 15 HR suppliers. One of the CEO’s had a response that stuck with me the most. “Talking to HR about innovation is like talking to a turkey about Christmas”…. Truth or dare, let’s put that turkey on the menu this year.

Be a Changemaker, join the HR (r)evolution

The HR ChangeMaker model (below) is a “work in progress” and has been created with the aim of helping and inspiring the HR Community.

  • Paper Personnel Files
  • Policies manual
  • Handbook HR
  • Excel
  • Collective labour agreement is the terms & conditions offer
  • Legally mandatory training only
  • Lifetime employment - Permanent contracts

  • Annual PF review
  • Classroom training
  • Performance management support
  • Health & Safety training
  • Implementation software SAP/Exact/etc
  • Work council involvement
  • Using the legal maximum amount of temporary contracts

  • Competency framework
  • Harmonising and improving terms & conditions
  • Internal communications
  • Personal development on request
  • Business cases Workday/Successfactors
  • Yearly employee engagement survey
  • Freelancers/detached/contractors

  • Talent & succession planning
  • Employee journey
  • Online Academy
  • A la carte terms & conditions
  • Key performance indicators
  • Pre-boarding/onboarding app
  • Various contract types in work force

  • People, Values & Culture
  • Pulse surveys employee engagement
  • ATS Candidate experience
  • High performing teams
  • Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
  • Privacy & data protection legislation (GDPR)
  • Internships/traineeships/secondments - talent development

Employer branding, EVP, Persona                              Diversity & Inclusion (LJBTIQ+)

Social media & recruitment marketing                       Working anywhere, any time, flex hubs, hybrid

Continuous feedback                                                  Covid Health regulations & impact

Mental Well being                                                        Focus on output instead of presence or time 

Leadership journey                                                      Variety of "cool" benefits

Masterclasses/Webinars                                             Mobility


  • People data analytics & data-driven decision making
  • Customised experience (personalisation, gen difference etc.)
  • 24/7 HR support on demand
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Lean & Agile working in HR
  • Digital nomads
  • Skill gap reviews workforce
  • Personal purpose
  • Development outside business = inside development
  • Return to work ambassadors - reboarding
  • Network learning
  • Flex rewards
  • Short term employment cycles - reboarding
  • Start up's/own business next to job
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Anne Jaakke
HR ChangeMaker
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