New Editorial Board About The Hot HR Issues for 2007

by 23 Jan 2007

Melissa Yen speaks with some members of Human Resources magazines new editorial board about the hot HR issues for 2007

Human Resources magazine is the industry’s only publication to have an editorial board, whose role it is to ensure the magazine continues to be the reporting authority on HR and people management related issues.

We have selected a range of Australia’s top HR practitioners, executives and educators, whose depth and breadth of experience and expertise spans a wide variety of industries. The complete list of editorial board members is as follows:

• Robert Parker, CFO, IBM

• Leigh Clapham, MD, MasterCard

• Rob Lourey, HR director, LendLease

• Larry Howard, CIO, IAG

• George Elsey, HR director, Sensis

• Roger Collins, professor of management, AGSM

• Wayne Twomey, CFO, PricewaterhouseCoopers

• Fiona Cole, HR director, Yahoo!7

Following is a sampling of some of their predictions on HR issues for 2007. We hope you will look out for their contributions, comments and opinion in Human Resourcesmagazine throughout 2007. If you have any questions or comments for our board please email

George Elsey, General Manager Human Resources, Sensis

One of the most prevalent issues from my perspective is the massive competition for talented people. Highly skilled candidates are a scarce resource. The performance levels expected of new recruits are so high that fewer candidates are capable of achieving them. HR is expected to overcome this and acquire, develop and retain superior talent.

Another major issue is keeping employees focused and on track to achieve business objectives amidst the manic pace of change and reorganisation as leaders pursue new paths to success. As businesses attempt to cope with the constant pressure associated with rapid change, HR is looked to more and more for solutions to overcome this pressure and strain on the business and its employees. In this environment, it’s important that HR partners with the business and plays an active role in developing and implementing effective change strategies.

Rob Lourey, Group Head Of Human Resources, Lend Lease Corporation

If the prevailing view of economists in Australia and around the world is correct, then 2007 will see solid economic growth in most developed economies.

We in the HR profession need to focus on ensuring we have a clear perspective on the attractiveness of our organisation’s employment offer remains paramount. One remaining competitive advantage for organisations is its people and how they are managed..

The company’s brand, or how it is perceived by prospective and current employees, needs careful attention. The opportunity for enjoyable and developmental work needs to be clear. The manner in which people can enjoy meaningful relationships with their supervisors and colleagues needs thoughtful organisation. The utility with which people can arrange their rewards needs clear direction.

Fiona Cole, Human Resources Director, Yahoo!7

Employment branding, leadership capability and measurement are three key issues the HR industry faces in 2007.

Its simple, the strength of company values attracts engaged and creative people and it’s not enough anymore to just pay the dollars.

Neither is it enough to just attract and retain talent. Companies must also gain competitive advantage through strong leadership. We need great leaders to direct that focus and provide clarity of purpose.

To be successful, a leader must be able to alter their leadership style continually and recognise the importance of people who get the work done.

Then there is measurement. I read recently that “customers feel the variance not the mean”. But to what degree do we need higher levels of performance? What does this mean for HR? We need to understand our objectives and focus on what makes a tangible difference and impacts on overall company performance. Are we building effective leaders and how do we know?

Robert Parker, CFO, IBM Australia And New Zealand

We are at a fascinating point in corporate history when the very nature of business and business institutions is changing. We are moving from a multi-national model where small, complete microcosms of a company operated in each country, to a globally integrated model where operations and functions can be located anywhere in the world, depending on the right cost, the right skills, and the right business environment.

People naturally develop an emotional attachment to businesses and to ways of doing business. And this presents leaders, managers and HR professionals with a challenge: the challenge of making these inevitable and very positive changes inspirational rather than threatening.

HR must deliver the supporting mechanisms for change: new ways of ensuring skill development, different management training, systems to track the expertise of employees so as to use them where and when they are most needed. It requires the development of new and more flexible career paths, and a renewed emphasis on ‘soft’ skills which will allow people to function more effectively in this changed environment.

Leigh Clapham, MD, MasterCard

The most prominent issue for 2007 I believe is the effort to secure talent.

Attracting top candidates will prove challenging and salary packages will continue to grow. We may even see the emergence of sign-on bonuses to counter the retention bonuses many companies now offer. In this environment, knowing the true market price for a candidate is vital, placing salary market data methodology firmly under the microscope.

Meanwhile the skills shortage will require companies to recruit increasingly from overseas, particularly attracting our home-grown talent. But the question is whether Australian companies can compete, not just on salary but on opportunity, and lifestyle?

Businesses will also need to recognise the non-financial elements of attracting people. Talented individuals are increasingly focusing on a company’s brand and its reputation as an ‘employer of choice’, making internal career development processes and organisational culture all themore vital.

Roger Collins, Professor of Management, AGSM

As I look ahead to 2007 I am reminded that this challenge demands that we try and balance the issues and initiatives that are urgent with those that are important. Too often we allow ourselves to be seduced by the immediacy and pressures of the urgent demands and opportunities at the expense of the less pressing but ultimately more important issues.

First, consider who will make the most difference to the performance and well-being of the members of our organisations on the available evidence the greatest impact can be made by our senior and local managers and by the members themselves as they assume greater responsibility for their own performance development and destinies.

Second, I think that we need to spend more time on the business case for putting more resources into people leadership and development for many managers as part of their belief and value. The importance of this issue is clear when we witness the current preoccupation of so many CEOs board members and senior managers with wealth creation mbos mergers and equity buyouts

Finally, if we are so busy reinventing our organisations and ourselves we should also address these efforts to our occupational group so many professions and occupations have failed to evolve in line with either our knowledge or the demands of our organisations and wider society.