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Each month a leading HR practitioner is invited to answer a tough question posed by Andrew Leigh. This month we welcome:

Allison Campbell, HR Director – Bacardi Martini Ltd: UK

Question: Apart from coping with the recessionary climate, what in your view is the most important issue now facing HR and HR practitioners and why?

Allison says

“For some time now, businesses have recognised the critical nature of investing in the right people programmes to give them the best chance of success.

In many businesses the HR function is represented on the Board along with the other business-critical functions which have traditionally had a place of influence, further reinforcing the importance of strong people programmes. Good news, then, when times are good, funding is secure and business is booming.

But what about the situation in the current climate when businesses are scrutinising their activities and analysing those methods which provide the greatest return on investment?

It is critical that the HR function works hand in hand with the remainder of the business apart from the Board to highlight the activities which are appropriate for the present challenges but which also allow for change when circumstances alter and the recession begins to lift.

HR needs to be aligned to the business strategy, challenges and opportunities in order to provide strong guidance and partnership on the activities which need to continue, be deferred, or in some cases, be maximised.

A sound business case, therefore, is critical to ensure that the organisation invests in the right things and ultimately achieves the greatest success via its people.

It is not good enough for the HR function to champion initiatives just because they are generally good practice or are established events. A very clear ROI needs to be aligned to each activity to make it obvious as to the rationale for continuing, changing or deferring practices.

The HR team should to be at the forefront of this process rather than reacting to requests or instructions from the business. That way the team’s influence on the business will be appropriately positioned. Speaking the language of the business is essential in creating the case and influencing the outcome.

We must all examine the value of the initiatives we champion, ensure they are relevant and add value and that they are delivered effectively.

It is also vital to have clear measures of success in place to support the business case and to plan for the future. “

Do you agree with Allison? What do you think is the most important issue now facing HR and HR practitioners and why?

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