Specialist skills are set to be in demand in 2017, as employers absorb new employment legislation, and tussle with the implications of Brexit. At the same time HR business partners will be highly sought-after by organisations who need to balance commercial demands with people management. And there is also a sense that more change lies ahead, as organisations emphasise culture, people, and the collaborative mindset.
These are the opinions of recruitment experts who predict that job opportunities for HR professionals will lie in specific remits, whilst also anticipating the emergence of new types of roles involving culture and people development.
Recruitment and training skills
At specialist HR recruitment firm Eyzon, founding partner Matt Brooks expects global recruitment and relocation specialists to become sought after as the impact of Brexit puts “international resources on the agenda” he says.
Meanwhile the forthcoming Apprenticeship Levy has also focussed organisations’ attentions on ensuring that capable people are in place to implement and oversee requirements.
“We have noticed a spike in the number of people recruiting for [those to manage] apprenticeship schemes”, says Robert Archer, regional director at Michael Page Human Resources.
He adds that demand is growing for talent and resourcing specialists, and those who are skilled in diversity and inclusion, as well as organisational effectiveness, as organisations become more outward-facing.
Another prediction from Brooks is that there will be “more activity in the reward space”, as employers meet the April 2017 legislation on gender pay gap reporting and hire in internal support for this, or divert resources.
At Hays Human Resources, director Barney Ely points to the bigger trend of organisations re-evaluating their benefits and rewards packages as they recognise the necessity of catering for the differing needs of a multi-generational workforce.
“HR professionals looking for work within reward and benefit need to demonstrate how they can help employers engage and motivate the talent of a multi-generational workforce”, says Ely.
Ely says that the benefits employees consider to be most important are likely to change at different stages of their lives.
“Our Hays UK Salary and Recruiting Trends 2017 guide showed that while Gen Y and Gen X placed similar importance on flexible working and over 25 days annual leave, 36% of Gen Y placed importance on financial support, while only 22% of Gen X saw this as an important benefit.
“Similarly half of Gen X placed importance on pension contribution compared to only 40% of Gen Y. So offering a range of choices and flexible benefits can help demonstrate how to retain and attract the talent the company needs to meet business objectives”, he says.
Commercial awareness will continue to be an important skill for HR professionals, says Ely.
“It is essential that professionals understand the commercial environment in which their organisation operates, and the demands and needs of their workforce”, he says.
“HR professionals should be demonstrating the understanding of business goals and integrating that into their projects and work. By doing this, employers will see that their contributions to the company are part of the solution to achieving overall business objectives.”
He recommends that at work, and in interview, that HR professionals demonstrate: “knowledge of the competitive environment; what competitors are doing to attract, retain, reward and engage employees.” He also advises suggesting innovative ideas to address business-related issues.
At Michael Page Human Resources, Robert Archer sees a similar trend.
“HR is now here to play a front seat role in leading the business with commercial thinking and influence”, he says, exhorting HR professionals “to draw on their understanding of how businesses communicate with people.”
Business is reacting faster and looking to recruit quickly to fill skills gaps and all the while HR professionals need to show that they can “balance, and take the best things out of technology”, Archer says.
Specialists in change
The pace and depth of organisational change is reflected in changes to the HR role says Jemma Rawlins director of HR recruitment at Hudson.
As businesses go through huge organisational changes, so too are HR teams entering periods of transformation - not just in terms of adapting to new digital practices, but in their whole outlook”, she says.
“Most notably, they're having to think about the overall employee experience more than ever, especially with five generations in the workplace and the adoption of new working practices such as agile working, fluid team structures and the blurring of lines between functions.”
Engagement on agenda
Engagement, culture and retention are at the top of many HR agendas this year.
“So we expect to see companies taking on HR people who have proven experience of working in an organisation that has already gone through one of these major transformations: the kinds of people who can readily adapt to rapid change and add genuine value to the whole employee experience”, she says.
“Specific skills areas we are already seeing in demand are in learning and development, talent development and reward. Something that is becoming increasingly important to organisations is the balance of those skills with the right mindset for the role - for example, they want someone who has the skills and experience in learning and development, but also an adaptive, collaborative mindset to go with it.
Pointing out the importance of mindset, Rawlins defines it as “an attitude or disposition, an inclination or perspective” which takes in “a person’s preferred work environment and ways of working which, in turn, directly impacts their approach to tasks, challenges and opportunities.”
She says that in many organisations, but especially those going through transformation, the emphasis is increasing on recruiting people with a collaborative mindset and who can do things differently.
Look out for new titles
Rawlins adds that she is seeing more companies hiring for new titles like People and Culture Manager, Head of People, Engagement and Culture Manager and People Development Manager. “This signals a shift away from the traditional HR Manager title, and an evolution of what that role entails”, she says.