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theHRDIRECTOR – August 2018 – Issue 166

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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 166 – August 2018

Corporate Governance
If trust is the new business currency and humbleness/mindfulness is driving motivations, will the much-chastened western corporate culture lack the commercial bite against the often crude and relentless driving forces of the new economies? In many ways, Trump – the archetypal Wall Street character – was US election voters’ hyperbolic reaction to that fear. Can a balance between ruthlessness and mindfulness ever be found, or can diversity be left to its own natural devices, to find that illusive and unlikely equilibrium? This defines the future role of corporate governance, and here lies the realities, both commercial and moral, of what makes a successful organisation, that operates on the level. Today, every employee, partner, contractor and customer is a potential whistle-blower and witness to wrongdoing, and they all have a voice that cannot be silenced, let alone edited. The acronym, CSR, represents a phrase that reeks of tokenism and tick boxes, but show a turtle choking on a plastic bag and the world pays attention – if the bag has a corporate logo emblazoned on it, then the damage to both animal and business is complete. Reputation is everything and today it is at its most vulnerable. Public trust is brittle and however robust a corporate standards framework is, these days, things can change in an instant.

Managing career development
Of all HR-related concerns, the definition of career development has arguably changed more than all others. Gone is the ladder, the glass ceiling has long shattered and age, gender, race, class and status (and soon criminal record) are, by law, definitions that employers cannot use in career development. It’s the workplace equivalent of Blind Date, and the late Cilla Black only attended one wedding in the entire eighteen years the series ran. The reality is, completely dismantling a framework that has for years – by design and motivation – assisted some and held back others, has been a shock for many organisations. Then there is the issue of trying to understand the motivations and expectations of an increasingly nebulous human resource, that seems oblivious to old conventions of loyalty and tenure, and have little or no compunction to traipse along anything resembling a traditional career path. When there is the necessity for cultural shift of this magnitude, collateral change is not an option, it is an absolute imperative. HR must eradicate entrenched thinking that the old landscape still exists, it plainly doesn’t. So how today can we best identify and set employee career development paths to meet both individual expectations and business objectives? What are the components needed to empower people to motivate their own ambitions and provide information about opportunities? Plus how do we address the career development needs of the multi-generational workforce?

Money matters
There is an indelible line that runs through financial health, wellbeing (both physical and mental) and performance. This then is a significant concern, as a look across the multi-generation workforce fails to reveal any cohort that is an outstanding winner. From the new gens that are contemplating never being able to afford their own home, through to the squeezed middle with their depleted savings, unrewarded by a decade of stagnant interest rates, and on to the older generation grimly facing a meagre existence on retirement. For a considerable time now, for employers, here lies a tricky conundrum – that is, how best to address an issue that is one of the last taboos. How can employers effectively advise and support employees inclusively, from; students struggling with debt and trying to put a foot on the property ladder right through to the best post-work and pensions options? What are the most effective communication platforms, and does self-service provide the platform for education, information and advice? Your experiences, unbiased advice and guidance to this complex issue will be gratefully received.

Standardisation vs flexibility and agility – finding a balance
Business buzzwords of yesterday eluded to corporate status as “strong” balance sheet, “rigid and robust” infrastructure and “steadfast, forward-looking” plans. Such descriptions are at complete odds with today’s words of buzz such as; agile, flexible, soft and malleable. The problem is, you cannot support ambition on a jelly, whilst employees sit around like hippies, waiting for inspiration. Businesses must find a balance between agility and stability, to develop a standardised framework that encourages and supports innovation and calculable risk. So how can a culture of blame be improved, to allow freedom of innovative thought, and reduce the fear factor of failure? Conversely, is a flexible operational framework capable of maintaining a best-practice operation? Also, the problem of setting balance is, by nature, a precarious position, because internal and external forces constantly add weight on one side or the other, leading to instability. Without policies and procedures is the route to a wild west town without a sheriff, but equally, a regime of red tape and close-quarter micro management is completely out of kilter with today’s workforce, which is hyper-sensitive and quick to react to controlling environments. As with all our subjects in this issue, we welcome your ideas and synopsis for articles.

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.

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