If HR professionals are to take up their rightful mantle as agents of change, they must become “first and foremost business leaders and strategists driving performance and change through people”.
Gill Rider, president of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development
, warned in her keynote speech to open the organisation’s annual conference in Manchester today that a difficult economic climate, changing demographics and a crisis of trust in leadership had only increased the need for HR professionals to develop and cement their business skills.
Important macro-economic influences included the fact that, over the last three years, the G20 leading economies had created 20 million fewer jobs than required to keep the employment rate constant – and the shortfall was expected to double to 40 million by the end of next year.
The global population, meanwhile, hit seven million only last week, while an accompanying United Nations report indicated that the figure could double again by 2100. The lack of faith in leadership, on the other hand, related to management at all levels and included everyone from politicians to bankers and company bosses.
As a result of all of these scenarios occurring together, Rider said: “I’ve seen an acceleration – even in the last year – an acceleration in the requirement for HR to drive business performance, to deliver growth and productivity. I see more urgency. The themes may be familiar, but the magnitude is different.”
But no other profession beyond HR had the same “range of levers” to generate the necessary change that comes from creating a buzz and getting the best out of people which, in turn, leads to increased productivity levels.
“I see a real shift in emphasis in what is required of great HR – more important than ever is our ability to lead and drive performance,” at both the local and progressively at the global level too, Rider said.
But positive action was required not only at an organisational, but also at the societal level too. An example of the required ethical behaviour concerned volunteers from the CIPD’s Coventry and Warwickshire branch.
They introduced a pilot project this year to mentor 70 young people in the area in order to help them find work after Employment Minister
, Chris Grayling, urged the HR profession to play its part in helping the unemployed at the CIPD’s conference last year. The first participants in the scheme have already found work and the aim is to extend it out more broadly in the near future.