Skills shortage puts HR in demand

by 29 May 2007

HR PROFESSIONALS with generalist, organisational development and change management skills are in increased demand as competition for staff intensifies across the country.

The next three to six months will see a steady increase in recruitment as organisations strengthen their HR function, said Nicole Isaacs, regional director of Hays Human Resources, which released the report.

“This means the candidate shortage in specialist markets is set to continue for the foreseeable future and competition for these skills is fierce.”

As business booms, Isaacs said HR professionals need to ensure their company is investing in attracting the right employees and retaining them.

“Remuneration specialists are in demand to ensure that in the fight for talent, organisations are offering competitive salaries, incentives, commission structures and benefits on an ongoing basis,” she said.

As companies recognise change can result in the loss of staff, more are employing organisational change specialists to ensure that changes are implemented more smoothly, minimising the loss of staff, and maximising efficiency.

“Companies are focusing on OHS as a commitment to the welfare of their employees, as opposed to a simple legal requirement,” she added.

More and more HR departments are employing internal recruitment specialists, allowing them to focus on and cope with increased recruitment.

“Everyone is fighting for the same skills in demand. Competition now exists not only between companies locally – it also exists between international markets and Australia, and between states due to the continued buoyancy and fast-growing critical shortage of skilled professionals.”

Marked increases in salaries are being offered for such roles, particularly for recruitment specialists, remuneration and benefits experts, and learning and development professionals, she said.

“Organisations are realising the value of ‘pitching’the role and organisation to a potential employee, in addition to interviewing a candidate for a vacancy.”

This means candidates are in the fortunate position of being able to wait for the right role, offering the right compensation and best fit with their longer-term career plan.

“There is no end in sight. As business continues to flourish, companies will continue to invest in HR and learning and development, focusing on attracting and retaining the best available talent,” Isaacs said.

In the public sector, the report also found HR specialists are in demand, with candidates with remuneration and benefits, IR and OHS skills particularly required. This demand is driven by changes in legislation and organisations are looking to offer benefits other than salary to retain and attract staff, such as training, benefits and work-life balance.

When it came to retention, Isaacs said conducting cultural surveys and acting on the feedback was also very effective in gaining the engagement of employees.

“Investing in training and development of staff, succession planning, filling training gaps and promoting prior to expectation also increases staff loyalty enormously,” Isaacs said.

Preparing for future demand

Nicole Isaacs from Hays Human Resources said HR professionals should develop their skills in a number of areas in order to handle skills shortages:

· For OHS, tertiary studies are fast becoming an essential requirement.

· It is widely regarded that a stint in remuneration and benefits is beneficial to the career of an HR generalist, particularly as you approach director level.

· If you want to specialise in compensation and benefits, enhance your Excel skills to a superior level, and gain some exposure to this side of HR, to assist you in securing a dedicated remuneration and benefits role.

· There are a number of candidates keen to specialise in organisational development. If in a generalist role now, take every opportunity to initiate and invest in change, gaining experience as a change agent. Alternatively, involve yourself with any company acquisition activity if possible, or any projects focusing on organisational structure. Tertiary or postgraduate studies in organisational change are also highly regarded.

· Change management. Many employers are now requiring evidence of the change methodology used. Start up-skilling in this area, again, perhaps undertaking studies in organisational change.


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