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Blog - Is it time for HR to lead organisations and solve the biggest challenge?

Is it time for HR to lead organisations and solve the biggest challenge?

Posted by Paul Farrer 09/01/15

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The 17th Annual Global CEO Survey by Price Waterhouse Coopers yet again threw the spotlight on HR with 93% of CEO’s revising their talent strategies and two-thirds feeling their HR function can’t cope.

The report went on to state that 63% of CEO’s are concerned about the availability of key skills in the knowledge that talent is the main engine of business growth.

For the second year running the report highlights the key issue. CEO’s routinely say they are revising their talent strategies without appearing to make any progress one year to the next.

If they were missing sales targets, if the ROI on marketing had diminished, if a major IT project unravelled or if auditors found a hole in the accounts heads would roll as those who are accountable would have to take responsibility for their failure.

So if CEO’s  know that talent is the main engine of business growth how is the failure to recruit on time lacking accountability? In addition to demographic change and affect on supply of talent the real cause of the problem is that HR Directors have allowed recruitment to be seen as a cost and not an investment. In the larger companies, the decisions on who to use for the acquisition of talent is being driven by procurement, which says it all. The drive to pay less to attract the best is counterintuitive.

The drive to lower ‘costs’ started with the growth of internal talent teams, usually ex-recruitment consultants hired to recruit as much as possible without engaging a third party or the use of RPO and MSP providers who commoditise people. Makes complete sense when it works but in a talent short market, there is still a desperate need to engage third parties to provide specialist talent.

The employment market has changed dramatically in the last two years and the candidate is now king and queen. Proactive and passive candidates have multiple options so everyone has to work a lot harder to attract them to engage. This takes investment so those seeking to reduce what they perceive as cost are just building a longer and longer period of time to hire, which wallops the top line and therefore the bottom line. But because the CFO isn’t writing out a cheque – it is ok!

HR’s biggest failure is the lack of self-confidence or maybe desire in taking the lead. I don’t mean in HR but in leading the organisation and placing people at the top of the agenda. Research from the Mullwood Partnership showed that only 12% of HR leaders had ever made it to the top job. HR leaders are more than capable of demonstrating accountability, appetite and commercial acumen so combine that with a deep understanding of the value and need for investment in people. They should make great CEO’s and now is the time.

Paul Farrer
Paul Farrer

Paul started in recruitment in 1986 before establishing Phee Farrer Jones now known as Aspire. Aspire specialise in recruiting for the digital, media and marketing communications industry and number around 100 people based in London, Singapore and Hong Kong. Aspire are the only digital, media and marketing communications specialist that are a Sunday Times Best 100 Company to Work For, ISO 9001 accredited and hold the Investors in People Gold Award.

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