As the year draws to a close and a new one beckons, organisations are busy taking stock and making projections for the next business year. It is also not uncommon for individuals to make New Year resolutions which is often characterised by adopting new habits or the quest to attain a particular goal. It is on this basis that I argue the HR profession, though a professional discipline, should appraise itself and set new targets for the coming year.

I am quite aware that HR practitioners could fill up a whole book with aspirations and targets for 2014. This can best be attributed to the institutional and cultural factors inherent in our countries of practice because the HR discipline in itself is a universal profession. The traditional method of interview for new hires in use in the United Kingdom is also prevalent in Nigeria. Reward management is mostly based on employees’ performance in most organisations across the globe. Skill gap is still a challenge for most organisations across different industries.

I won’t pretend to know all the challenges of the workplace and neither do I have the magic wand of solutions. However, I have my aspirations for HR in 2014 and I look forward to a more responsive discipline. There has been a barrage of complaints on graduate employment as young university graduates alleged that recruiters do not treat them with dignity. They complained that recruiters demand work-experience which are apparently lacking for most advertised jobs. The few ones who got called up for interviews were left in the limbo for so long without feedbacks from recruiters. Young graduates don’t really like our faces!

Shortage of skilled workforce is still predominant even in the so-called big companies. Customers’ needs are ever changing and it takes a very agile HR unit to make available skilled employees that can meet these needs. A similar issue is that of skill gap between senior executives and middle cadre managers. The ageing workforce has not been able to transfer knowledge to upcoming middle managers. It is a dilemma which today’s organisations are faced with and I will lay the blame at the HR’s desk.

Companies that do not have the problem of skilled workforce are found wanting in keeping their talented employees. Attrition is now very common in the business world as competitors are on the prowl to poach talents from rival companies. While it could be difficult to stop a want-away employee, it is important to ask ourselves how well we (HRs) have tried to keep our best hands. In a bid to remain competitive, some recruiters are not mindful of hiring ‘highly mobile’ employees. Someone who has worked, say in three to five different companies, within the same industry in a short spell of time.

By not paying attention to the development of internal employees, companies are left at the mercy of these highly mobile talents. Learning and development of employees still takes a backstage in most organisations. As HR professionals, we need the convincing ability. A lot of organisations today are averse to anything ‘cost’ and it takes only a HR professional who knows his onions to be able to justify the need for training. How have we fared in this regard? For those that have been convincing enough, what has been the Return on Investment (ROI)? It is important that the huge amount of money expended on staff training impacted positively on the employees and the organisation.

Interestingly, learning has taken different forms with the advent of technology and the social media in particular. Sadly though, there are still some HR professionals who are yet to key into the revolution, Personally, I have benefited immensely from social media through connection with numerous HR colleagues across the world. I now follow experts from New Zealand, Canada, India and a host of many others on Twitter and it is helping me to deliver improved solutions to my clients’ needs. It then baffles me why some of us still operate as if we were in the seventies!

I should not harp strictly on Learning & Development as there are other HR practices needing attention. Performance Management, Leadership and Reward Management can all do with some tweaks. I however made a disclosure earlier that I do not know all the problems and neither do I have answers to them. I am passing the baton to other professionals to look inwards and come up with ways of improving the HR profession.

Let me also say that it’s not been all knocks for HR. The profession has really come of age and there are lots and lots of practitioners doing great works out there. Day in day out, they churn out new solutions to the ever complex workplace situations. Everyone will agree with me that of all living creatures, human beings are the most complex to manage. With this in mind, we can give ourselves a pat on the back even if some people think otherwise. We have done well so far in the midst of lean budgets we had to work with and I feel we should raise our glasses up and toast to a drink.

While we celebrate in the euphoria of our achievements, we should not allow complacency to set in and lose sight of what lies ahead. It is my wish in the New Year to see HR professionals get a grip of how to use data to improve our works. We should be able to analyse statistics (age, qualifications, skills etc.) of employees and determine how they affect manpower planning and talent management. Representing HR in terms of numbers is the way to go in 2014. We should be able to quantify the impact of HR in the overall success of the organisation. In other subjective areas, we need to improve on our attitudes toward young graduates. Others may disagree on this though. Whatever we do feel about our work, I believe we can do better in 2014.

Before then, I am wishing everyone a happy festive season. See you all next year

Culled from:

Akeem Gbadamosi, M.Sc Industrial Relations and Human Resource Management.