HR is at the table, now let us make sure we stay there

It’s HR’s role to make sure the organisation can identify where skills might be lacking or needs might be changing, and either up-skill or cross-skill their workforce. Appropriate, and properly implemented technology can make this task much simpler, writes Monica Watt, Chief Human Resources Officer at ELMO.

The opportunities for human resources (HR) professionals in the new world of working are endless.

Leaders across all industries and business sizes are looking for guidance on how they can steer their organisation beyond the headwinds that inevitably come with rapid change. If ever there was an opportunity for HR professionals to earn a permanent seat at the table, it is now.

HR professionals needn’t have an inward focus to navigate their organisation’s challenges. Throughout 2020 the entire industry became far more collaborative, sharing insights, attending webinars to absorb new information at a rapid rate, and generally learning from one another.

Steering the force of change
During the height of the pandemic’s economic impacts, HR professionals were the change drivers for their organisations. They led people into remote-based working, answered their questions and managed their concerns. Most importantly, they provided insights and clear guidance to leadership members on how the business can emerge from this crisis with its people and culture intact. In all cases, the true value of HR was on display.

Encouragingly, the Australian and New Zealand economies are showing signs of improvement according to the latest HR Industry Benchmark Survey revealing 85 per cent of HR professionals anticipate their workforce will either grow or remain the same size. This means HR practitioners will once again need to move with the times.

Upskilling and cross-skilling is key
There are practical steps that HR professionals can employ to support their organisations. One such area is ensuring that employees have the skills they need to be successful. In fact, this was ranked as a top challenge by HR professionals in the HR Industry Benchmark Survey. It’s HR’s role to make sure the organisation can identify where skills might be lacking or needs might be changing, and either up-skill or cross-skill their workforce. Appropriate, and properly implemented technology can make this task much simpler.

It’s not just employees who will need to be up-skilled, leadership development will be a key challenge that HR practitioners will need to navigate. Explaining to a leader that they need to sharpen their skills can be a difficult conversation to have. However, if a leader isn’t adaptable and malleable to the changing world they will quickly fall behind the benchmark. Building these skills will be vital, whether it’s done via coaching or mentoring, job rotations or formal courses.

HR professionals needn’t have an inward focus to navigate their organisation’s challenges. Throughout 2020 the entire industry became far more collaborative, sharing insights, attending webinars to absorb new information at a rapid rate, and generally learning from one another. This needs to continue if our sector is going to thrive in 2021 and beyond. Those networks and relationships we have all built must be strengthened even further by willingly sharing our experiences.

It’s not just employees who will need to be up-skilled, leadership development will be a key challenge that HR practitioners will need to navigate.

After the past year we have earnt our seat at the table. Now, it’s up to all of us to work together to ensure our place is permanent.

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