Post-Apocalypse HR

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(NOTE: This post was originally posted on HiringSmart.com by Paul Pittman)

Years into the Global Financial Collapse (and ongoing recession in the US) we have had enough – time to move on – let’s get this show back on the road. The recovery looms and it is going to be different this time around for HR ….right?

You wake up and it’s January. The start of a whole new business year. A welcome chance at a do-over. No more holiday hours and sleepy work days – everyone is back from vacation and eager to get back to business. Years into the Global Financial Collapse (and ongoing recession in the US) we have had enough – time to move on – let’s get this show back on the road. The recovery looms and it is going to be different this time around for HR ….right?

For months we have been undertaking the worst of our profession; downsizing, severance, cost cutting. We have even shrunk the function – with fewer people to service, you need less people we hear! Hmmm. But has anything really changed in any meaningful way – the key issues are the same. The financial crisis did nothing but add to the litany of challenges:

  • Demographics – baby boomers will stick around for a bit longer to top up the pension pot but have begun to disengage. We still have not figured out how to capture that accumulated wisdom before it is gone. Don’t underestimate the enterprise value of long service because these types of employee won’t be coming around again
  • Values – the generations following are looking for a different employment brand – the model that served the boomers and their predecessors is bust and will no longer attract the best from any cohort. Those that thought the GFC would provide an economic wake up call couldn’t be more wrong – in fact it will reinforce the view that life is just too short to let work rule
  • You are not the only one that has figured this out – Board agendas are again beginning to include discussions about velocity and talent risk- expect your workload to increases soon
  • Mobility is an increasingly scarce competency – aspirations of doing business internationally and achieving the transfer of values and culture as well as technical expertise will be a major task
  • Governance – new rules around compensation disclosure and risk will inevitably mean new plans. Getting current programs compliant for many companies will mean that it will be easier and less costly to start again and create new ones

These challenges still exist plus a slate of new ones that have developed over the past year:

  • How to deliver the same or greater value with fewer resources
  • How to reinvent a battered employment brand to attract the best
  • How to convince management that the flow of candidates hitting their inbox may be available and priced but in the long run will mean value destruction
  • How to realign values, culture and incentives with business goals

The post apocalypse HR function – leaner but fitter for task and more highly focused.

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