Frontline Intelligence: HR Recruitment - HR trends to watch in 2013

by External04 Apr 2013

Craig Mason outlines broad trends that will be impacting all HR professionals as we move through to the second half of 2013. 

So what will 2013 dish up for HR professionals?

No doubt about it... plenty of change!

Individual industries’ circumstances will vary, but there will be some broad trends that will impact HR professionals in 2013. So what are some of these trends?

Trend no.1 – Top line growth required

The official reporting season has just been completed for most Australian listed companies. Almost half the companies that reported results, exceeded expectations.

This is great news but may have been at a cost.

Tanya Branwhite from Macquarie Equities was quoted in the AFR on the 23rd of Feb as saying, “One thing that is still missing from companies is top-line growth. Costs and cost cutting have been a feature of this reporting season.”

With this renewed focus on costs felt across most sectors (even the boom Resources companies), the challenge for companies will be gearing up for growth to take advantage of improvements in consumer and business sentiment.

A good example of this is the Telco sector. The major players are focusing their attentions on Customer Centricity to provide strong future revenue growth. This is a business strategy that firmly sits within HR’s remit.

With this change of Business Drivers, HR’s ability to build both organisational and leadership capability to meet a different operating approach will be a key HR deliverable. This will be through HR understanding:


  • Business analytics;
  • Business insights;
  • Organisational Design;
  • Organistional Development based on data; and
  • Workforce Planning.


Trend no.2 - Productivity

There is a clear focus on HR Operating Models being designed to ensure the best HR services are being delivered for the lowest cost available.

Large organisations particularly have been implementing revised HR operating models with an eye to cost minimisation as well as improved HR services.

The argument is that better HR service delivery ensures stronger alignment to business needs and a more consistent and professional customer experience from HR.

Leading Australian companies such as Lend Lease and Qantas are certainly of this view.

The platform for productivity gains at Lend Lease relates to building synergies across their global operations. At Qantas, the productivity platform relates to improving performance to deal with a competitive landscape and also integrating new advanced technology in the form of aircraft, ticketing and check-in facilities.

Whilst Qantas and Lend Lease have different motivators for achieving productivity gains, they are similar to most companies in driving agendas for change through HR by:


  • Rollouts of HR Shared Service Centres to manage operational HR functions;
  • Driving consistency of ‘people’ processes across organisations as a means of delivering productivity gains; and
  • Using technology to automate various people processes and aid the above ‘consistency of process’ objectives.


One thing is clear: this trend in driving productivity in HR will have a fundamental impact on the design and type of HR roles that exist.


Trend no.3 – HR BP’s becoming sole traders

As indicated in Trend No. 2, different models for roles in HR will continue to be driven in 2013. With shared services driving more consistent daily HR services, this will provide generalists with the ‘passport to play’ and act as true Business Partners by:


  • Managing and analysing data to drive better business decisions;
  • Driving workforce planning;
  • Implementing talent management initiatives;
  • Evaluating organisational effectiveness;
  • Initiating and managing workforce cost reviews; and
  • Driving career frameworks and measuring improvements.


In undertaking this work, senior HR generalists are finding themselves losing direct team management responsibility.

High-touch divisional HR generalist positions with a team of HRMs and HRC reporting directly into the role are becoming a thing of the past in large sophisticated organisations.

This trend means that HR generalists will need to develop a new skill set compared to that which was required in the past which links to the requirements in Trend No 1.

The final word

As everyone knows, change is constant but in 2013, the pace of change will only increase for HR functions just like all other professional areas within organisation.

Therefore for HR practitioners, understanding the trends and staying relevant is really the only option.


About the author

Craig Mason is the Managing Director of The Next Step, a specialist consulting practice in the human resources market. For more information call (02) 8256 2500 or email Website: