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HR priorities for 2015

January 20, 2015

HiringI was trying hard to avoid the temptation to jump onto the bandwagon and write this almost de-rigueur blogpost. And then I a chance conversation on the subject triggered a few thoughts, so I said "what the hell" and decided to share my perspective. Would love to hear what you think and your comments will enhance the dialog and add to the collective thinking of all HR professionals.

First and foremost, I think HR should ask themselves if they’ve met all that they decided for 2014. As HR professionals we are wont to get enamoured by the next big thing and move on too quickly before we fully implement what we started.

1. 2015 is going to continue to be VUCA (as if the last year wasn’t bad enough already!), which will mean high volatility for us. Business decisions will not always be clear or forthcoming and HR partners will have to be flexible and agile in their ability to respond rapidly to requests or quickly put things on a back-burner. All this without being overwhelmed by emotions. It will call for a very pragmatic but emergent mindset and attitude. Volatility is the new reality and if you’re going to be unsettled by volatility then you’re going to be unsettled everyday. So the first callout is to accept it and operate from equanimity.

2. From an India perspective, with the Govt. budget announcement around the corner, all pointers indicate that there are going to be some key policy announcements; these will result in an uptick in business, almost as rapid as a reverse bungeeHiring and retention are going to be key. I have always believed you can only do so much to retain someone who has decided to leave. Hence, it makes sense to invest more energy on the input pipeline. Hiring is going to be the key challenge, equipping the organization so that strategic plans can be put into action is going to be a competitive differentiator. Not all HR functions will get it right. Those who do will be seen as business partners.

3. Drawing from the above, this is also the year that the talent crunch will be strongly felt, hence organizations will need to focus on all contributing employees as talent and while the investments on high potential will continue, appreciating and acknowledging the High and Steady Performers will become critical. The bell curve will soften or vanish altogether. HR must lead this charge. Not easy to destroy something you created and embedded, but that’s exactly what’s required.

4. As the size of the development audience goes up (HiPos+HiPerfs+SteadyPerfs), budgets are not going to stretch appropriately. Hence using novel solutions for employee development will become critical. Micro-learning, gamification and the 70% (of the 70:20:10) will gain traction. HR will need to learn how to run each of these, as skills are yet to develop fully.

5. Digital. More than ever before, digital will have an impact on communication, culture and employer brand. HR heads and teams who do not understand the medium will not be able to leverage it. If you don’t have twitter on your phone, laptop and tablet, you’re behind already. If you do, but are a passive observer, take lessons – ask someone to mentor you and get on it. Digital is probably the greatest tool HR could have asked for. It can help speed up your delivery/execution. It will disintermediate distance, democratize hierarchies and enable you to reach and converse with a wide population of current, past and future employees.

6. HR for HR. Oft neglected, HR will need to ensure they invest time and money on developing the skills of RubberDucksthe function. Reskilling HR is going to be critical across organizations and HR heads must have a budget for this. While there won’t be many lead indicators of impact, there will be clear lag indicators in the long-term around organizational readiness for business challenges. This is where boards and CEOs need to encourage investment. The ones who do, will reap the rewards.

There are some of my thoughts on the subject. I’d love to know what resonates with you and what else you can add to this list. Thanks!

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