HR: boom or bust?

by 15 Dec 2008

Has HR missed its opportunity to establish itself as a trusted business partner during the Western Australian resources boom? Matt Hewitson writes

The pressure to demonstrate value as an HR pro fessional has increased significantly in recent years. In Western Australia particularly, the primary focus has been on the war for talent and retaining key individuals in a booming economy.

With high commodity prices, organisations have been able to increase remuneration to levels higher than the rest of the country to meet the expectations of skilled candidates.

Organisations have increased their HR and inter nal recruitment teams accordingly to cope with their growing headcounts and projects, and, in doing so, have created an HR production line which is solely focused on recruitment, contracts and pay scales.

One could argue that this has been a result of the increasing awareness by business that people are crucial to their success. Others, however, would believe that this was more about companies des perate to increase short-term gains in production and delivery, rather than long-term sustainability and best practice HR.

The economy in WA has now changed, and HR practitioners are finding that they are not immune to the threat of redundancy.

The high volumes of recruitment have disap peared, and some HR professionals are now finding it difficult to add value as they once had, and, because of the tightening in spending, they are being drawn back into performing transactional HR duties.

Rather than reverting back to basics and going into self-protection mode, HR now needs to estab lish itself as a business partner.

Generally HR forgets that it isn’t HR that makes the money or wins the projects – it’s the key talent within the business. HR’s role is to work with the business, understand what they need for success, and provide relevant HR solutions to suit – not the other way around.

It is at times such as these that HR needs to pro vide leadership and direction to organisations – both in managing the changing environment, but also to ensure that when the market booms again, their organisation is ready for it.

The ability for organisations to recruit high per formers will always be a source of competitive advantage, and HR needs to be more commercial in its approach to recruitment.

Most importantly however, it needs to deliver more innovative solutions to build, encourage and reward performance and demonstrate the impact of HR on the bottom line.

HR in general needs to improve its business part nering skills before it will be seen as a peer of busi ness. Qualifications and years of experience in HR don’t automatically provide credibility and respect if you are not able to engage, influence and com municate effectively with the business.

Matt Hewitson is lead talent manager for Harrier Resourcing People

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