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