Home' HR Monthly : July 2016 Contents PERSPECTIVE
To read past Perspective columns by
Peter Wilson, visit hrmonline.
THE EYES OF HR GLAZE OVER WHEN ANOTHER PIECE
of research like the Boston Consulting Group’s ‘Creating People
Advantage’ (2014) arrives on the laptop, stating the top five
priorities for H R and the business are:
• attraction, retention and development of talent;
• leadership development;
• creating a learning organisation;
• managing change and
• work life balance.
HR has known for some time that these are the key questions,
and now seeks practical advice to make headway against these
However, 2015-16 may well represent an important turning point
in both HR research and its practical value. AHRI and our US and
UK counterparties, SHRM and CIPD respectively, have published
studies in the past 12 months that reveal what HR and business
leaders see as the main priorities, main challenges and current
efficiency and effectiveness.
In the latest 2016 study from SHRM, maintaining high employee
engagement and developing next generation leaders are seen by
HR professionals as equal top priorities, scoring about 39 per cent.
Business leaders outside the HR function place these two priorities
of engagement and leadership delivery in their top four, but add in
the need for a competitive set of benefits and remuneration.
In a statement of pragmatic savvy, 70 per cent of HR
professionals su rveyed by SHRM believe the greatest challenge is to
deliver critical HR processes efficiently and effectively, at a time of
constraint on resources, or ‘doing more with less’. Beyond that, HR
sees the need to move itself from transactional to transformational
These results confirm AHRI’s own recent research that the
HR function won’t be credible in ‘developing HR strategies to
encompass and execute the evolving business strategies’, unless
the basic people processes are effective and are delivered at low
unit cost. ‘C Suite’ business leaders will not take the HR function
seriously unless we accept this conditional sequence.
That said, it’s clear that the top HR professionals in the US,
UK and Australia do understand this dependency, and perform in
accordance with that understanding.
Unsurprisingly, another challenging priority for both HR and
business leaders is getting to grips with IT and the new digital
world, and also harnessing IT capability for the HR function.
Just behind that is pressure to use big data filters and human
capital analytics to comb through what people are thinking and
saying about working for your organisation, and then to use that
information to improve engagement and performance.
So the evidence is that recent HR industry research results are
becoming much more forensic and practical in nature.
Take the case of engagement, which is the Achilles heel of most
organisations. The annual international Gallup Survey assesses that
20 per cent of people at work are positively engaged, 60 per cent are
neutral and 20 per cent ex tremely disengaged.
In Australia it’s marginally better at 25/60/15 per cent. So there
is a huge productivity potential in getting some of the 60 per cent
neutral-zone dwellers into feeling positively engaged about their
work. B ersin, writing in the 2015 Deloitte review, advises that
disengagement is best tackled by finding the reasons for it and then
focussing on fixing the big issues. Don’t get lost in the minor data.
All research indicates education of leaders on modern leadership
principles is at the headwaters of making a sustainable turnaround
in negative engagement.
Groysberg and Slind, writing in 2015 Harvard
Business Review, concluded that traditional
communication channels are breaking down in
their effectiveness and efficiency. Today’s leaders
need to use social media to get the message out,
and find out what their employees think. Last
year, in my interview with David Thodey in
HRM, the outgoing and very successful Telstra
CEO, he said that he communicated with his
employees through internal portal, Yammer.
David su rmised some sessions left him
feeling a little bruised and battered,
but also that he got great insights, and
responded to them.
So HR is now accessing better
research material to connect the
dots. That’s important because you
can’t make the next step towards
innovation by thinking outside the
nine dots, if you don’t first of all
know where they are.
CONNECT THE DOTS
Look, listen and learn if you want to solve HR’s most pressing problems.
BY PETER WILSON AM, AHRI CHAIRMAN
16/06/2016 12:28 pm
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