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theHRDIRECTOR – December 2017 – Issue 158

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

Synopsis – Issue 158 – December 2017

The long-forecast perfect storm is pounding at the shores of UK businesses. War on talent rages, the workforce is ever-ageing and the real impact of Brexodus is already becoming evident. A red hot market means talent acquisition is growing more expensive and the rules of retention are being re-written. So where are already over-stretched resources and limited funds best utilised? What now are the real influencers in the retention battle? Do the answers lie in a clearer understanding of the resources in the ranks and a more articulate and capable up-skilling and re-skilling programme? Plus how much faith can be placed in the gig economy to fill the gaps? Long-term is this really a viable solution?

From HR to people science
HR’s tactility, sensitivity and human touch, has always been considered a valuable asset, certainly providing a softer side to the hard edge of corporate life. More recently, HR has become increasingly about cold, hard data-driven decision making, so how will a growing reliance on analytics effect HR thinking and strategy planning? The hard facts are, that business agility is key and the capacity to keep pace with change relies on capitalising on the constant flow of data, on the algorithms of behavioural science, and building people science knowledge and capability into the HR proposition. Changing work environments and work-life balance are just the tip of the iceberg and changing values and growing complexity means that reliance on data and algorithms cannot be underestimated. So how is people science influencing businesses and is HR becoming the master or slave of the digital deluge?

The future of work
Millions of words have been written and said about the workplace of the future and now there is definitely a sense that the future has arrived. Is the workforce really going to be an army of itinerant flexible giggers, parachuting into the work zone when needed? Is the business organisation as we have known it, really disintegrating? Perhaps not entirely, but as digitally-driven business is so different to traditional industries, that business models and behaviours are forcibly changing, as a result of incoming disruptive and dynamic business influences. This means that the way people are working is changing. Technology, data analytics, social media and ways of communicating are evolving and in turn, traditional career models could become defunct. Add to this the challenge of managing demographic change, growing diversity and even more emphasis on work-life balance – to say that the role of HR will need to continue to change is stating the obvious.

Keeping workforce skills up-to-date
Constant change is dictating the way businesses operate, and that much-used word agility is the essential asset in ensuring that essential skills are up-to-date. The other driving factor is that increasingly, because of the technology to hand, it is people that are key to forward-looking, leading-edge capability in work and operations. So building a culture and platform for personal responsibility in keeping up to speed with skills and capability can do a great deal of running, and take the heat from over-stretched resources. Equally, using big data to understand and align operational needs with individual development, and ensuring line managers are attuned to workforce skills changes and deficits has to be the beating pulse of the organisation. As with all the subjects in focus this issue, your most learned and expert perspectives will be gratefully accepted.

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