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Independence is our strength – covering the issues that directly impact on those with the duty of directing human resources

ISSUE 205 – Synopsis – NOVEMBER

Workforce transformation
Confidence, surety, synergy, safety and wellbeing will be the primary elements necessary for businesses determined to emerge from the pandemic raring to go and aiming to capitalise on the opportunities ahead. There is talk about a return to normal, with the much-discussed hybrid workforce and the challenge will be to mitigate against unavoidable disruption and confusion in the early stages. With workforces disrupted and key skills in short supply, recruitment, onboarding, upskilling and reskilling en masse, will be energy and resource sapping for managers and leaders, faced with the biggest workforce transformation in generations, at speed and subject to sudden change. Business Leaders will need to consider what skills will be needed for the future and design a workforce that is agile and resilient. There will be a requirement to renew crucial links between employee experience and customer satisfaction and so the focus must be on supporting employee experience in workplace environments – real and virtual, that supports and nurtures employees – which in turn will create great experiences for customers. This means that key skills for the future will be; creativity, complex communication and critical thinking. The model will also need to consider the shift to more contingent workers, where there is an opportunity to untap a wide spectrum of skills and talent, as remote working has no geographical barriers. But with line-of-sight and presenteeism no longer convention, the vital tools are communication, data & analytics, scheduling and coordination, to adapt quickly to change, maintain productivity and momentum. Culture and values must be reviewed, to ensure empathy and understanding radiates from leadership across the business – mindful that progress in equality, diversity and inclusion must not be shelved for “more pressing business issues”. Wellbeing support will be essential of course, across businesses, as COVID continues to swirl and we face the many challenges ahead and become accustomed to a very changed world of work.

Talent management
Pre-pandemic, the evidence is clear that driving performance and productivity above all other considerations fuelled burnout, increased work-related mental health problems and pushed attrition to record levels. After years of running flat out, the enforced hiatus that was imposed during the pandemic, was a unique moment for thought and introspection, about what the world of work represents to people, along with reflections on careers and aspirations. What engages talent has changed radically, no longer are ambitious people grabbing at the greasy poll to the C-suite, preferring more experiential opportunities and increasingly, the skilled are attracted to organisations that have a culture of flexibility, a meritocracy of shared knowledge and collective contribution, not closed-faced hierarchy and a business mantra that reaches beyond the pursuit of profit and shareholder dividends, to supporting local communities and the wider world. During this crisis, more people have changed roles and even sectors in 18 months, than in the previous decade and mindsets, motivations and priorities have altered – as has the world of work itself, as the hybrid landscape forms into some sort of shape and semblance. One reality has not changed, talent and skills are still in high demand and businesses are resigned to the fact that the net will have to be thrown wider, globally in fact, to find the skills which will be central to business competitiveness. As firms forecast, plan and assess resourcing for requisite skills, a sharp rise in outsourcing and third-party contractors is predicted to meet the deficit, meaning businesses will need to be calibrated to support and synergise a multi-faceted workforce. Finding and hiring skills and talent, efficiently and effectively, remains priority and as most businesses have become accustomed to recruiting and onboarding virtually, that will likely be the direction of travel. But never before has qualitative, real-time data been such a priority, requiring HR to deep mine data and utilise analytics to gain a much more informed understanding of the skills required and identify talent, both internally and externally and engage emphatically, compellingly and attractively. New technology is coming onboard all the time to bring competitive edge and leaders have to be mindful of that and ensuring  that HR is upskilled and reskilled to take advantage of incoming tech through essential digital skills training and data science development.

HR collaboration with finance and marketing
HR has been chief campanologist ringing in the changes for the era of collaboration, knowledge share and collective performance. The profession must now capitalise on its successful advent, by forging strategic alliances itself, flattening silos and borders between departments and synergising resources and capabilities. The two most influential areas in which HR can find important strategic crossover points are Finance and Marketing. A business has to be greater than the sum of its parts and this holy trinity represents exciting prospects for the future. Marketing and HR share some important synergies, but traditionally their audiences were perceived as different – customers and employees retrospectively – but as employer branding aligns with business and product branding, here is an opportunity to present dynamic and compelling visions and values, that appeal across the board and provide the dual task of attracting customers, at the same time as drawing talent in. However, with such high-profile, public exposure in these ultra-transparent times, if what the brand extols is not experienced by employees, the connections are instantaneous and can, through unfettered social media commentary, descend into PR disaster for both product and employer brand, as was recently experienced by allegations directed at Brew Dog. Clearly, honesty and pragmatism are essential components. Meanwhile, HR and Finance’s ability to work together and understand each other’s role is critical to business alignment. For years, HR and finance were two distinct business areas and never the twain shall meet – unless the two collided over costs – as people activities are by far the biggest expense. But without collaboration, it simply is not possible to achieve fast-moving organisational objectives. For this collaboration to work, mutual trust and empathy are essential components, as is shared vision and the capacity to capitalise on the overlaps, in duties, capabilities and personnel. For HR, the place to start is to demonstrate the direct and nuanced links between people and revenue and where there has been capital expense on HR, how the improvements have impacted efficiencies and the bottom line. The road ahead will be a challenging journey and synergistic relationships between these three essential business stalwarts will add grist to the mill. With this subject, we would like to include some articles from the CFOs and Marketing Directors’ perspectives.

Recruitment – how HR must re-embrace and innovate
In recruitment circles, the pandemic will be remembered as the time that the digital and virtual revolution completed the circle. The entire journey, from CV to onboarding and beyond, is mechanised, efficient and, as experienced during this time, it is possible that employees can work for a year and never meet colleagues, managers and leaders face-to-face. What the long-term outcomes of this human void will be, only time and data will tell, but with recruitment arguably the most influential aspect of business competence and competitiveness, in light of an increasingly closed-face and machine-run interface, HR’s role and influence must recalibrate and shine bright across the piece, from employer brand attraction to ongoing employer experience, with equality, inclusion and diversity as guiding principles. HR needs to re-embrace recruitment. After years of deliberately separating itself from the boring bureaucracy of recruitment administration, HR practitioners must now push the whole science of resourcing out of the HR spotlight. Overburdened line managers are ill-prepared for the changing requirements for recruitment post-pandemic and right now, the world of work is crying out for a new innovative approach to resourcing. Employers desperately need a new and exciting approach to attracting and retaining a vastly different workforce and too many organisations think they are progressive, because they have an online applicant tracking model, yet would run a mile from a “candidate Chatbot”. From attraction to exit, HR’s influence is felt in the recruitment process and is directly linked to outcome. With the hybrid framework, where a ratio of 60-to-40 is predicted and teams will be increasingly formed by remote working individuals, HR will have to plan for virtual and remote employees for the foreseeable future. So, what are the key elements for HR to consider, to ensure a seamless, efficient and effective approaches to recruitment in the virtual working world ahead? As with all our subjects in this issue, we look forward to receiving your pitches.


As with all our subjects this issue, we welcome your expertise and insight in providing guidance to these challenging times.

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