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Cath Everett

Sift Media

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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News: CIPD 2012 – ‘HR must redefine itself’, says Peter Cheese


HR must redefine itself and its purpose in order to cope with the changing nature of work, the workforce and the workplace within the broader “context of a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world”.

This was the key message of Peter Cheese’s first address to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s annual conference in Manchester since becoming chief executive at the end of July.
Such a shift was necessary, he warned, because the world would never return to how it had been before the recession. As a result, it was imperative to respond to “the new normal”.
This meant that there were a good number of genuinely strategic business, economic and social issues with which HR, as a profession, simply had to engage.
These included “rebuilding purpose and aligning to values that create the right sort of organisational culture – not only to engage with employees, but to engage with the communities and societies we work in and impact more positively”, Cheese said.
Responding to a “crisis of trust” and rebuilding it in leadership at every level, which included politicians, media and business bosses, was also a vital part of the process.
The CIPD’s latest Employee Outlook survey revealed, for instance, that 40% of workers did not believe that corporate values were worth the paper they were printed on, while only just over 50% felt that such values had any positive influence on behaviour.
Change at the CIPD
This situation, taken together with high levels of unemployment and underemployment among young people and those over 50, meant that it was crucial to start trying to understand what the workforce of tomorrow would look like and what such shifts would mean for employers.
To do this effectively, HR professionals would need to engage more with business leaders and stakeholders and develop practices that would benefit the organisation, the economy and the wider society, Cheese said.
But he also acknowledged that the CIPD would need to change too. To this end and to mark the end of his first 100 days in his new post, Cheese unveiled the organisation’s new tagline – ‘Championing better work and working lives’ – which he said applied to both it and the wider profession.
His aim, he said, was to start developing a broader strategy by strengthening the body’s research and thought leadership position, which included collaborating more with policy makers. It also meant connecting more effectively with top HR people and business leaders, while likewise attempting to be more inclusive.
This would involve focusing more on small-to-medium-sized enterprises rather than large companies as has traditionally been the case and working more with HR consultants who Cheese described as “major agents of change”.
A further aim was to build better relationships not just with individuals but also with organisations in order to measure best practice, while also realigning certification and membership categories to better reflect the organisation’s membership.
A final goal was to create an “international frame of reference” and build on a desire to grow the body’s presence internationally. “This is an incredible time for HR and it’s a most interesting time so we have to step up to the challenge,” Cheese said.
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Cath Everett

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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