HR leaders’ biggest priorities for 2018

Industry execs share the areas where they’ll be focusing their attention over the next 12 months

HR leaders’ biggest priorities for 2018
HR professionals are constantly being told they need to be more strategic in these times of rapid industry change – but what does that really mean?

As well as knowing your business inside out, it’s important to continuously monitor trends and know where your organization plans to be in two, five or 20 years.

In this second part of a two-part series, three HR specialists who are pioneering strategic change at their organizations share their biggest priorities for the next 12 months and beyond, and what HR professionals need to do to prove their essentiality.

Anna Petosa, vice president of people and culture at weather information network Pelmorex, Cheryl Fullerton, executive vice president of people and communications at Corus Entertainment, and Anna Crane, director of human resources at LED lighting market leader Lumenix  will form a panel speaking on HR’s priorities at the HR Leaders Summit in November.


Instead of focusing only on advancing skills for the leaders you already have, HR should be cultivating leadership skills throughout the business – whether it’s mapping pathways for high-potential hires, or encouraging leadership-related skills like communication and responsibility in other workers.

Anna Crane says leadership development is a major priority for her, with an emphasis on building skills across the workforce, as well as coaching and mentoring, and stretch assignments.

She adds that Lumenix has never done performance reviews, instead favouring year-round employment engagement and empowerment.

“Coaching and mentoring and development is really key to our success, and we’re doing it one-on-one. We’ve never done performance reviews here,” Crane says.

“You need to continuously develop your talent. It keeps engagement high and is very powerful to retain key employees. This helps the roadmap to promotion as you tie it into specific observable behaviours to see the return on investment in your people.”


The three leaders agree that keeping on top of technology trends and tools, and using meaningful data to track human capital and drive smarter business decisions, should be priorities for all HR professionals.

Anna Petosa says it’s important to understand each business unit’s strategy and goals, and to help them by gathering the most relevant data.

“The data and the dashboard that you create for one of your business units could and probably will look very different from all of your business units across the board … Make it really meaningful for them, understand their business, and understand what data points you can collect from an HR perspective, while maintaining privacy, to help them drive those decisions forward.”

Cheryl Fullerton urges HR professionals to spend time with marketers to understand how they look at customer data and with finance professionals to understand performance metrics, then consider their business’ unique needs, before getting started on HR metrics.

Crane agrees it’s the application of data that really matters.

“It’s not one-size-fits-all. You just have to know your executive team and what they’re looking for, and you have to have the smarts to understand how it applies to your business. Being able to make decisions faster, being agile, and developing our leaders as a result of it.”


Culture and employee experience play a crucial part in both attracting and retaining talent – and needless to say, they’re top priorities for these HR leaders.

Once companies are clear on their purpose and internal culture, Fullerton adds, they need to project that to customers.

“Where you don’t have clear definitions and alignment on how to describe who you are, that will be next,” she says.

Petosa believes it’s important that companies have “culture with a purpose”, based on values, which is woven into all of their work, from recruitment to development, retention and even business strategy – and that everyone, not just HR, takes ownership of it.

“It’s an old saying that ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’ and I really believe that. Anyone can replicate your strategy or your product. It’s much more difficult to replicate your culture.”

Related stories:
How HR leaders adapt to change
HR in “most dynamic and exciting” time ever

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