Holding the Olympic Spirit: Looking Forward 2010

By Ian J. Cook, CHRP

By the time you read these words, we will have begun a year unlike any other.  At the other end of telescope here at ResearchVOICE we have polished up the crystal ball, crunched a few numbers and focused our minds on some of what lies ahead for HR in 2010…aside from the obvious.

We in HR have been in training for the Winter Olympics for some time.  We’ve prepped our processes and perfected our games: handling last minute staffing challenges, coaching managers dealing with remote workers, redefining the parameters of the workable day and keeping our teams on the ball.  We need to carry that flexibility and strategic authority forward.

What we should also be aiming to carry away with us is the spirit of the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games: the lift, the heart and the drive that such global competition both inspires and requires.  Those organizations that capture and hold the magic of world class competition will bring much to the bottom line in the coming year.

We are not returning to buoyant economic times, and organizations will be making tight financial decisions while exploring how best to succeed and thrive through uncertain markets. Every organization will be looking to optimize the contribution of its varied functions to support its long term success.

Talent is key

The business impacts felt during the last five years have shifted the debate about talent. Across industries, we have become increasingly dependent on having the right talent, in the right place, at the right time: all at the right price to benefit from the changing global economic landscape. The shift to a more talent-oriented business perspective looks like a bonus for HR. However, in reality it increases the level of challenge and raises a clear expectation to deliver superior business performance through superior management of people.

In a year of increased demand and uncertain future prospects, the opportunity to innovate becomes a necessity. Recruiting is a foundation of  HR that is already undergoing a major shake up. The big search firms are integrating and moving towards more full service offerings which involve not only placement but coaching support and even the potential to fully support your succession needs by monitoring, developing and moving candidates inside AND outside your business.

On the flip side, affordable technology has given rise to a smorgasbord of start-ups offering services ranging from delivering qualified candidates for interview at a fixed price to providing free posting on a referral-based job site to providing software solutions aimed at improving your quality of hire.
Big or small, this will be a good year to revisit your hiring strategy, scan the potential solutions and plan ways to enhance your quality of hire while maintaining or reducing costs.

Learning is a must

2010 will also be a good year to grow your own talent. In current times a lot of people are staying put. This means organizations will increasingly need to look within their own ranks or their local talent pool to find the people who can support their existing business and lead it forward.

To this end, we foresee accelerated spending around succession and looking for new and innovative ways to deliver learning at low cost. We should see the same care, attention and proper allocation of learning dollars to key positions all the way through the organization, not just at the executive level. One caveat is not to try and deliver this for minimal cost. Learning and learning transfer is a complex social process that takes skill to get right. Better to spend more on a few than to do a little for a lot.

Evidence drives decisions

The final key trend we should engage with is one we can call ‘evidence-based HR’. The changes in technology have made it possible to track, process and use HR data as never before. This analytical approach to HR efficiency and strategic contribution will continue to grow as the demands from the business increase. Evidence-based HR does not replace intuition; it backs it up or sits it down, using data, analysis, tangible goals and robust monitoring to demonstrate that the intuition is correct and valuable.

It is no accident that John Murabito, who is the Human Resources Planning Societies’ HR executive of the year, is described in the following way: “[He] represents an emerging breed of HR executives who both accept and rely on the power of metrics. Murabito… is as comfortable working with analytics as he is with a word processor.” We see enormous opportunity for HR to continue asserting its strategic role through the application of data and robust measurement practices.

2010 will be a year of continued change.  As organizations unlearn/relearn the how-to’s of success and adapt to the new economic climate, HR will be at the heart of these transformations. Organizational success will be defined more than ever through the people and skills that are involved.  Are you ready for a challenging and opportunity-filled year?

Ian J. Cook, CHRP is BC HRMA’s director of Knowledge and Learning.

(PeopleTalk: Spring 2010)


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