HR issues to focus on in 2019

Photo: Zukunft Personal Europe

Workplace safety issues and dismissals. Labour strikes, lockouts and mounting numbers of resignations.

With all the above issues escalating, John Patterson, owner of the National Cash Register Company, in 1901, was pushed to his very limits. In a desperate – but certainly historic – attempt he decided to try something totally different. He set up a new team in charge of people management. And so the first HR department was born; tasked with creating the company’s compensation, employee relationships, workplace safety and compliance policies.

To be totally fair, those specific areas of people management did not transform that much in the following 100 years. To recap, early HR practices, over the first part of the 1900s, focused rather on a “watchmen” function and were tasked with keeping the record on employee data and initiatives. The second part of the 1900s was characterized by momentous societal changes that lead to more elevated expectations on equality and safety policies.

By today, not only is our socio-economic environment changing rapidly and constantly but the expectations of our employees as well. Gone are the days when the role of HR simply revolved around administration, compensation or protective regulation. What will become even more nuanced for HR managers in the future that will require the acquisition of new knowledge? In one single word: Everything!

Doubtful? Critical? Don’t click away just yet.

Keep reading as we bring you our top predictions as to where HR needs to focus on in 2019 and beyond, built on our conversations, with among others Ralph Hocke, the CEO of Spring Messe Management GMBH and the key takeaways from the 2018 Zukunft Personal Europe.

Which came first, Talent or Recruitment?

Clear as day: the war for talent isn’t – yet – over. As a matter of fact, as global companies, local businesses, and even governments battle to keep up in the talent race, we observe a widening of the gap between those that lag behind and those that lead the pack with innovative thinking and alternative solutions. As an example, the Austrian online marketing and digital company eMagnetix has introduced a working time model, employees work 30 hour weeks on a full-time salary. According to CEO and Co-Founder Klaus Hochreiter, the number of applications and candidates has increased by tenfold for every new open position. In his words, therefore, they don’t feel the war for talent, because their employee value proposition is unbeatable.

The Austrian online marketing and digital company eMagnetix has introduced a working time model, employees work 30 hour weeks on a full-time salary. Click To Tweet

A recent EY study found that recruitment of traditional sectors, such as the Oil and Gas industry, has been facing challenges in attracting and keeping the right talent and to diversify their workforce. To cope with lower public awareness and escape from its old-fashioned “look” – not to mention attracting young and bright talent – the industry is desperately trying to rebuild its brand and focus on the innovation capacity of the sector. Another traditional business area, the fashion industry, according to a new global survey, is also in serious need of the right professionals with the right skillset, as 62% of the questioned managers in the study reported difficulties in recruiting for certain positions.

Not long ago other industries like the service, engineering or the public sector have faced similar difficulties for which they answered with the re-assessment of their recruitment approaches and reaching out to new solutions, as well as integrating digital technologies. For instance, in Australia, the National Post has tried for many years to overcome its talent hurdle, and could only succeed after a thorough re-evaluation of its recruitment strategy on which they have relied for many decades. This new approach was based on meeting candidates where they consumed online content (social recruiting) and using a range of resources to identify candidates from diverse sources (talent pools).

New approach: Meeting candidates where they consumed online content (social recruiting) and using a range of resources to identify candidates from diverse sources (talent pools). Click To Tweet

By now, hopefully, there is no need for us to bring you more evidence, neither it is to demonstrate further the importance of this point. Talent and recruitment will both be on the lips of people passionates for many years to come. What however you should be paying attention to is the creation of policies and programmes through which your organisation can make its entire workplace and culture attractive to potential candidates, using the right selection of available online tools and platforms. These can range from broadcasting organisational culture through Youtube videos to reaching out to potential new hires via Glassdoor conversations, applying employee referral apps, or collecting employee testimonials.

The new role of human resource departments in the age of digital transformation

Partnered with the newest technologies and software developments what became also clear for us is that the HR profession is slowly but surely rising to its strategic role, foretold by Dave Ulrich more than 20 years ago.

HR profession is slowly but surely rising to its strategic role, foretold by Dave Ulrich more than 20 years ago Click To Tweet

Thanks to this, the HR technology space is booming and people analytics teams are springing up everywhere. This development has two crucial consequences for every human resource department. One, it allows HR to identify and replace ineffective practices. Secondly, HR managers are continuously tasked with contributing to the overall productivity of organisations with insight and information. Question is: which data matters? The jury is still out on this debate, but what was visible, even palpable at the Zukunft Personal Europe, is that the available options are getting more nuanced with the possibility to cater to every unique need of the organisation. What’s more, according to a 2017 Deloitte study, HR is now requested to spearhead digital transformation across organisations, with the possibility to capitalize on emerging opportunities related to automation or artificial intelligence.

“We see a lot of important developments coming up when it comes to artificial intelligence, or when we talk about big data. These are the areas where we have a closer look in the future at the Zukunft Personal Europe.” – Ralf Hocke

Crafting and sustaining the ingredients of such a system is certainly not an easy feat. Therefore, platforms, such as the various events of Spring Messe GMBH, such as Zukunft Personal Europe, that can provide forward-looking professionals with orientation, are crucially important.

The time is now

What has started with the bold decision of John Patterson more than a century ago as a management subdivision has, by today, turned into a department with strategic importance. Our day’s HR professionals aren’t just administrating; they support senior management with insight and drive the new stages of HR history.

Our day's HR professionals aren’t just administrating; they support senior management with insight and drive the new stages of HR history. Click To Tweet

It is certainly a mind-boggling time to be involved in the people profession, on the other hand, it has never been more exciting. The above-introduced developments are pushing companies and organisations alike to be more and more innovative, creative and brave.

What future trend did you identify at the Zukunft Personal Europe 2018? Let us know in the comment section!

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