Skills shortages elevate HR to the boardroom

by 23 Jan 2007

INCREASING SHORTAGES of skilled professionals in the Asia-Pacific region will continue to affect business productivity and profitability across numerous industry sectors, and as a result, competitive advantage, especially in the IT sector, will be at the mercy of effective talent sourcing and management strategies.

As such, the HR role will complete the evolution from its traditional function to a strategic executive partner taken seriously by executive management teams for directly influencing profit in 2007, according to Unisys Asia Pacific HR director Melanie Laing.

“At a time of almost full employment in Australia with the spotlight well and truly on talent sourcing, it will become the norm for HR directors to demonstrate how strategic HR policies can directly influence revenues, improve operations and shareholder returns,” Laing said.

“A new breed of HR director is emerging equipped with strong business knowledge and competencies.”

Although it is still very rare for HR directors to make it to the boards of Australia’s listed companies, Laing predicts that the number of human resources committees reporting to boards will continue to grow, reflecting an increased respect for, and focus on, HR issues that now have the attention of boards.

As skills shortages continue to bite, organisations will increase investment in employer branding initiatives and talent management programs to position themselves as employers of choice, competing for an ever shrinking pool of skilled professionals.

Laing warned that organisations will have to match external perceptions with internal realities to ensure that employee retention and engagement rates do not fall.

In a recent Hudson survey, for example, 80 per cent of Australian managers believed their employment brand met employee expectations, while only 63 per cent of employees felt that they experienced the promised employee experience.

Employees will become more demanding of employers on corporate social responsibility commitments, Laing predicted.

“HR directors will need to take a greater role in ensuring that their organisations are stepping up to the mark, and be ready to explain themselves if not,”she said.

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