The environment for HR professionals has undergone significant change in recent years, with the impact of technology and mergers and acquisitions leading to a varied spectrum of activity in the space and differing views of what the traditional roles of HR include. Here Faye Holland, MD SharedXpertise, owner of HRO Today Forum investigates some of the trends currently having an impact on the industry. 

HR on the board?

Research conducted as part of the HRO Today Forum Europe asked HR practitioners and providers of HR outsourced services how much time they spent with the board and revealed a wide spectrum of results. Answers ranged from 8% of people spending four to eight hours, 22% spending more than eight hours and yet almost a quarter spending no time at all. This is particularly interesting because it illustrates that there is little clarity within the industry as to how much impact the HR department should have on overall board level decisions.

In addition, when asked to name the key drivers of HR strategy, over two thirds of respondents (67%) said "enabling the achievement of business goals", indicating that the Board and its HR department should be intrinsically linked. In order to fully understand the business goals, it is integral that an HR director has as much knowledge of the activities of the Board as possible. By ensuring that your company processes facilitate this close and open relationship, you will guarantee that your HR department recognises and understands the overall business goals, and consequently aligns their activities with them.


Outsourcing is counter-cyclical – it is as effective in recessions as in buoyant markets which illustrates how it has to be adopted to solve a business problem. However, it is essential that any business plans ahead and identifies the core HR responsibilities that absolutely must be handled in-house. Many organisations outsource their administrative functions, such as background checks and other legal requirements. By outsourcing these areas, you are giving your internal HR department the opportunity to maximise their productivity and efficiency, ultimately allocating higher risk areas to the right partners.

Our research indicates, however that although there are some strong reasons for the popularity of outsourcing, including reducing HR costs, handling growing regulation and a shift towards more strategic roles, some indicated that reliance on outsourcing is decreasing. Activities may increasingly be brought in-house either due to economic conditions or bad experiences. However, by getting the partnership right, you can make even more significant cost savings in the long term.

Social media:

Online social networks have grown to be one of the most powerful recruiting tools available to HR professionals. Integrating social networking sites into the traditional recruitment process is key not only to reaching potential candidates, but to building relationships and communities that will enhance the candidate experience and provide a window into your company’s culture. It can also provide hiring managers with unparalleled insight into future employees. Social media has the potential to revolutionise the way in which companies recruit. It’s essential that HR departments endeavour to move with the times and shift their focus from the straightforward collection of CVs to a more personal, developmental form of recruitment. Failure to embrace this trend could mean that top talent are building relationships with your competitors, rather than you.  It’s more of a long term view than some recruiters may be used to, but engage in the right way and you will find social media becomes an essential tool in the hunt for new employees.

The evolving HR landscape was debated by some of HR’s most influential figures from across Europe at the HRO Today Forum Europe, which took place at the Gibson Hotel in Dublin. Next year’s event will be held in London in November, for more information, please visit

Author: Faye Holland, Managing Director for SharedXpertise, owner of HRO Today Forum Europe

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