Change projects increases demand for contract HR specialists

Many organisations are currently going through significant transformation processes, and this has led to increased demand for professionals with experience in change management, organisational development, instructional designers and trainers to support systems, process improvement and leadership, according to a global recruitment firm.

However, companies are taking a very selective and cost conscious approach to hiring HR professionals for such projects and usually prefer contract arrangements, said Robert Walters HR director Erica Lindberg.

“Companies are being very strategic with their headcounts due to a continued focus on cost-saving,” she said.

“As a result, companies are tending to hire contractors on short and long-term contracts to complete projects, rather than adding to the permanent headcount.”

She said contractors need to be commercially focused HR professionals who work with business units, rather than in silos, to better plan and budget for key hires and to invest in learning and development to hit a common goal of cost reduction and business targets.

“There is strong demand for commercially minded HR partners, as organisations need HR professionals to work closely with the business and drive it forward,” said Lindberg.

“HR professionals will need to be strategic and commercially focused. Essentially they will need the ability to demonstrate how they add value and how their role is aligned with overall business objectives and goals.”

What employees want
A recent Robert Walters survey found that hiring intentions are predicted to remain steady, and 22 per cent of hiring managers who said that they are more likely to hire cited high turnover, increases in work, growth, acquisitions and market sentiment improvement as key reasons for recruitment.

“As the market picks up, so too will the competition for top talent, and the importance of staff engagement and people development will increase,” said Lindberg.

“Companies will need to stand out and increase the value of their offering with flexible hours, suitable remuneration, and career progression opportunities in order to keep their staff and attract new employees.”

The survey also found that more than half of surveyed professionals are not satisfied with the career progression opportunities available to them in their current roles.

 “We find that job seekers are asking questions about training and career progression and are measuring the offerings from various companies to decide which company to join”

The survey, which took in professionals from a range of industries such as HR, marketing and law, found that 58 per cent feel the career opportunities available to them are inadequate, and 92 per cent of employees are either likely or very likely to leave their jobs due to a lack of these opportunities.

When it came to the kind of career progression that they wanted, the majority sought secondments to other departments or regions (38 per cent), followed by training (31 per cent), study (23 per cent) and work experience placements (7 per cent).

“Career progression is consistently ranked by employees as their number one priority, over and above remuneration. In order to retain staff and attract future talent, organisations may therefore need to evaluate their internal career training and development offerings,” said Lindberg.

“Is there a structure in place that employees aren’t taking advantage of due to a lack of internal communication, or is this a gap within the business that needs to be addressed?

“More often than not, employees will continue in their roles rather than look elsewhere if they have the opportunity to increase their skill set.”

A simple offering of short courses, training stints in other departments, direct career paths within the business and access to internal international positions could help solve the ‘job itch’ that inevitably occurs, she said.

“This will also help employers attract the best talent – we find that job seekers are asking questions about training and career progression and are measuring the offerings from various companies to decide which company to join,” said Lindberg.

Hiring outlook
Another hiring expectations salary, conducted by Hudson, found that 60 per cent of hiring managers believe there is a talent shortage, with nearly 90 per cent saying that sourcing the right talent is the most challenging aspect of the recruitment process.

“During the slower growth of the past 18 months, organisations may have felt comfortable waiting to fill current – and potential – open positions,” said Dean Davidson, executive general manager, Hudson Australia.

“But the reality is that organisations are already struggling to identify the right talent and given positive hiring expectations for the fourth quarter this challenge is only going to increase over the coming months and into 2015.

“Make no mistake, there is a war for talent, and a challenge in finding the right people for key positions.”

To stay ahead of the competition, he said organisations need to establish a clear understanding of the skills and other attributes needed for their important positions, continually manage a talent pipeline and ensure that they are delivering a compelling employee value proposition.

By Rebecca Le Bas. Additional reporting by Craig Donaldson.