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Independence is our strength – covering the issues that directly impact on those with the duty of directing human resources
February 2019 – Issue 172
HR: in-house or outsourced?
Next to the IN and OUT, there should be a Shake-it-all-about-tray in HR departments, for the tremors of uncertainty that rattle organisations, always place HR at the epicentre of the quake. Fears for the future of HR are somewhat hypothetical, but how its multi-faceted services are delivered still lacks certainty in many businesses. The cost and disruption of digitising HR is – somewhat unbelievably in 2019 – still perceived as a reason not to, or at least to delay until absolutely necessary. The option then is to outsource HR, but there lies the path to relinquished control and losing internal knowledge and capability to external third-parties. Recourse then is to recruit, but the lack of available digital skills in the jobs market is well documented… and all the while the clock ticks. HR is undoubtedly at a crossroads – perhaps not one that offers oblivion as a potential route to take – but the lights have changed to green and the sector is at the junction not knowing which direction to take.
When the UK was found to be the sick man of Europe a few years ago, with absenteeism through illness far greater than any other EU countries, it wasn’t a big surprise. But the more recent revelations that team GB is swinging the lead on productivity was harder news to swallow. Set this against the levels of work-related stress and burnout, and it is little wonder that business leaders are in a state of panic, as the Brexit demolition ball swings through the final walls exposing the UK to global competition. So what exactly is productivity, and should it even be measured in most organisations today? If not productivity, what is it that organisations should be measuring in order to increase performance and drive businesses forward? That the UK is languishing near the bottom of the G7 league table should have business leaders losing sleep, as the country prepares to compete on the world stage, post Brexit.
Employers are failing to provide an employee experience that positively impacts on engagement and sustains productivity. In the Uber age of the remote, itinerant workforce, how much do businesses actually know about the people they employ and, more pressingly, what engages them? The workplace is no longer contained in bricks and mortar and, while this is considered the panacea to the agile and flexible business, it throws up significant challenges to workforce visibility and management. Many are grasping for qualitative HR intelligence in time weary ways, such as annual employee surveys so, by the time the data is granulated, it’s already out of date. Anything less than real-time, always-on visibility presents clear dangers to engagement and productivity. Key too is employee experience, empowerment and autonomy, which is the headline benchmark addition to the new look workforce, and an essential enabler for the modern workplace.
With essential skills at critically low levels, the fact that one-in-five employees should not have been hired (according to CEB) is surely loading pressure on an already desperate situation. With all the tools, the data and analytics available, what is the primary cause of this disruptive and costly failure? Could it be that machines employed to collate and harvest the data necessary for timely and seamless recruitment – to meet the skills demanded with the right recruits – are wrongly calibrated? Fast it may be, but the binary nature and the black and white sensibilities of digital recruitment – if fixated with rudimentary concerns, such as experience and qualifications – are missing a huge piece of the potential picture. Above all criteria, recruiting for aptitude is the rising star, but it is a quality that is not clearly flagged in the same way as a qualification or a relevant experience set. Worryingly, with a light-to-no-human touch in most of the recruitment cycle these days, the chances are that these subtle but important signs will be washed away in the deluge of mechanised data, scattering potential to the four winds. As with all our subjects in this issue, we look forward to your synopsis.
As for all the topics we are covering in this issue, your expertise and insight will be gratefully received in the form of briefs outlining your proposed articles.