HR’s own skill shortages

by 03 Oct 2007

By Craig Donaldson

Like many countries around the world, Australia is currently experiencing skills shortages. HR is often on the receiving end of this problem within companies, as management looks for options to ease the skills shortages issue as much as possible. As such, HR is in a prominent position to make a significant contribution and help solve a real business problem.

However, HR is not immune to the skills shortage either, though skills problems for HR have come about for different reasons than those in other sectors. HR is a fast changing profession, and increased demand for accountability combined with a real need for HR to understand and contribute meaningfully to business strategy has led to a shortfall of HR professionals with the required skills.

Many HR professionals still lack the necessary fiscal understanding and broader interest in the business to even begin contributing at a more strategic level. Some HR professionals lack the skills and are trying to get up-to-speed, while others simply aren’t interested in doing this and are happy staying in the warm and fuzzy box.

There is also a significant gap between the reality of business and the kind of HR taught at universities. Many bright-eyed HR graduates come out of university unprepared for the harsh realities of a fast changing business world, and it usually takes about three to five years for them to make a decision as to whether or not they want to embrace the challenge of becoming more business focused.

Given the shortage of HR professionals with the necessary business skills, especially in the area of metrics and analytics, it is an increasingly common trend to bring managers from other business lines into HR. This gives the function the necessary business perspective that would otherwise be lacking.

In all of this, HR does have an opportunity to step up to the plate like never before. Yes, it is a challenge and does involve stepping outside of HR’s traditional comfort zone, but the benefits, both on an individual level and professional level, would be returned many times over.