Emerging global human resource trends
HR professionals are judged, as is common for all professionals, by
their ability to conceive, transform, optimise and execute these roles.
This article assesses the major current global HR trends and their
influence on the resulting expansion of roles that HR professionals must
play to address them.
The corporate HR role is increasingly influenced by globalisation and
the shrinking global talent village. The impending retirement of the
Baby Boom generation worldwide is reducing the working population,
leading to a shortage of talent in most developed countries.
Offshoring, near-shoring and telecommuting are expanding to fill the
gap. For multi-national corporations, the demands arising from the need
to integrate portfolios globally, align processes and practices
uniformly, and increase the sophistication of deliverables means that
sourcing talent is now a global search, especially as the talent pool in
developing countries like ours grows in size and quality.
This growing talent demand is leading HR organisations to adopt
innovative sourcing methods, such as branding, re-hiring, conversion of
talent into new professions, campus reach programmes, employee
referrals, recruiting workshops and open houses, that go well beyond
traditional advertising methods.
Further, in addition to traditional interviews, HR recruiters now
must learn to use role plays, assessment centres, psychometric
profiling, job-specific tests, presentations and competency profiling.
And, to be successful talent sourcers, HR professionals need
excellent PR skills to play the roles of effective corporate
communicator and brand ambassador.
In addition, HR plays an increasing role in employee retention, and
can no longer function as an innocent bystander. HR professionals must
rally team members as positive advocates of the organisation, increase
discretionary efforts, create buzz and provide constructive criticism.
HR organisations are even taking responsibility for corporate social
responsibility (CSR) initiatives to motivate and enrich employees while
advancing corporate image.
One silver lining in global talent pool is the dramatic increase in
the number of females entering the workforce and pursuing professional
careers, both in the developed world and in developing countries. A
related trend is the change in traditional family structures, where
single parents, both female, and male, are increasing. Moreover, the
shrinking global village, which is witnessing increased travel across
continents, is further increasing the global talent pool.
To an HR professional, these trends create the need to align people
processes for greater flexibility to accommodate the female work force.
Creches, flexible work hours (combined with flexible compensation and
benefits), work-from-home, part-time work and work-based child care are
To respect diversity, HR professionals must ensure a fair,
transparent, harassment-free, no-glass-ceiling work environment.
Increased technology support, including video conferencing and speedy
telecom services, are also part of the solution.
In addition, HR organisations are placing increased emphasis on
innovative training programmes. Customised training and development
(T&D)-including self and e-learning, are increasingly common.
Educational sponsorships and focused business skills development
programs to meet corporate needs will play pivotal roles in creating
business value through better-geared, highly-contributing team members.
T&D will also have to provide technical and soft skills development,
and in the process, enhance niche training with small groups or teams.
Productivity is critical for businesses to stay ahead in the
rapidly-changing global business environment, where success requires
talent retention, profitable growth, strong brand perception,
operational excellence, consolidating businesses across geographies, and
strategic business alliances.
Consistently, the fuel of the global economy in recent years is
rising labour productivity, as service industries benefit from a
combination of steady technology gains, increases in workforce
educational levels, and a maturing workforce itself.
HR professionals play a pivotal role in enhancing worker productivity
within the corporation. They assess the business environment, culture
and underlying political influences that have to be synergised, and
typically lead the employee development programmes that yield worker
Talented individuals are naturally motivated to seek career
advancement, opportunity to contribute, learning and sharing
opportunities, and independent work assignments. HR professionals are
therefore tasked with identifying the top performers, creating fast
track opportunities for them, enabling them to be partners in change,
and creating forums for knowledge sharing with fast-track peers.
In addition, an emerging trend among the top talent in Generation "Y"
is their aspiration to be more family-centric, where even males seek
more personal time, such as paternity leave. This means that HR, as
practised in brand management by marketers, must look at the total job
experience and customise careers to individual top players to maximise
their contributions and loyalty.
Compensation and Benefits Programmes. Changes are also required in
the Compensation and Benefits (C&B) structures to face emerging market
trends. Transactional aspects of pay and benefits in addition to the
rational aspect of learning, development and the working environment are
required to be evaluated as a total rewards package.
Trendshow that top talent today value their immediate earnings more
than security in the role since well qualified individuals are highly
marketable with global passports to choose a country to work in with
Thus performance linked, tailor-made packages coupled with a variable
component (VC) is becoming common. Management by objectives (MBO) driven
pay components are becoming wide based with employers having to
increasingly invest in their talent for the future.
Employee Retention Programmes. Employee retention has a direct, major
impact on business productivity, and HR plays a central role in these
programs. While compensation and benefits are table stakes in employee
retention, research indicates that "soft" factors play a larger role in
keeping employees loyal.
These include hiring practices that ensure a better fit at the time
of hiring; strong orientation and on-boarding processes; close
engagement with new hires; coaching, mentoring and employee counselling;
cross-functional training, re-skilling and job rotations; strong social
networks, staff delight events and CSR opportunities; employee
satisfaction surveys; "fire-side chat" forums; and overseas working
opportunities. In all of these, HR professionals play the roles of
trusted advisor, consultant and execution arm, working in alignment with
the functional heads.
The IT industry is a particularly strong example of an industry
heavily influenced by the global trends described above.
Its global footprint, coupled with its strong growth fundamentals,
gives the IT industry a leadership position in emerging HR best
practices. Talent in IT is easily employable and deplorable globally.
This means retention is a critical issue and HR practices have to be
the most current, people-friendly, career and performance-centric, and
the overall work culture must be a delight if IT companies are to grow