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Skills shortages to elevate HR to boardroom in 07

News Release

Skills shortages to elevate HR to the boardroom in 2007

HR to throw off its old ‘cost centre’ mantle
- HR directors to demonstrate their worth as strategic executive level partners
- Innovative recruitment solutions and talent management programmes to continue to evolve
- The accepted definition of work time to be challenged

IT services company Unisys believes that increasing shortages of skilled professionals in the Asia Pacific region will continue to affect business productivity and profitability across numerous industry sectors into 2007. As a result, competitive advantage, especially in the information technology sector, will be at the mercy of effective talent sourcing and management strategies.

Unisys New Zealand HR director Sandra Lyall predicts that in 2007, the HR role will continue the evolution from its traditional function to a strategic executive partner taken seriously by executive management teams for directly influencing profit.

“At a time of almost full employment in New Zealand with the spotlight well and truly on talent sourcing, it will become the norm for HR directors to demonstrate how strategic HR policies can directly influence revenues, improve operations and shareholder returns,” says Ms Lyall. “A new breed of HR director is emerging equipped with strong business knowledge and competencies.”

Although it is still extremely rare for HR directors to make it to the boards of New Zealand and Australian and listed companies, Ms Lyall predicts that the number of human resources committees reporting to boards will continue to grow, reflecting an increased respect for and focus on HR issues that now have the attention of boards.

As skills shortages continue to bite, organisations will increase investment in employer branding initiatives and talent management programmes to compete for an ever-shrinking pool of skilled professionals.

Ms Lyall warns that organisations will have to match external perceptions with internal realities to ensure that employee retention and engagement rates do not fall. In a recent Hudson survey, 80 per cent of New Zealand and Australian managers considered their employment brand to meet employee expectations, while only 63 per cent of employees felt that they experienced the promised employee experience.

In 2007, Unisys also predicts that outsourcing of business functions such as IT and accounting will increase, largely as a response to skills shortages in these areas. Organisations will be forced to look overseas to gain access to vital skills and HR managers will have become expert on overseas procurement and migration.

Ms Lyall also predicts that employees will become more demanding of employers on corporate social responsibility commitments. “Business leaders will need to take a greater role in ensuring that their organisations are stepping up to the mark, and be ready to explain themselves if not,” says Ms Lyall.

Finally, flexible working policies will continue to be adopted in New Zealand as organisations move to accommodate non-traditional working patterns to encourage skilled professionals back into the workforce.

“At Unisys, our flexible workplace strategy addresses the need to create a variety of work arrangements to retain, and attract staff,” says Ms Lyall. “As long as desired business results are achieved, relationships are maintained and both the individual and the role lend themselves to flexibility, organisations will become less concerned with when and where the work is accomplished and the accepted definition of work time will evolve accordingly.”


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