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HR needs to look outwards to add value

Doug Sawers of SD Worx says HRDs must remember to focus on the big picture, despite uncertainty and change

Never before has it been more vital for businesses to optimise the ideas, strengths and skills of their entire workforce – and of others within their industry and beyond.

The increasing use of technology and automation, social media and the massive increase in the amount of data available are all disrupting our world. Add economic and global events such as Brexit to the mix and it becomes volatile and uncertain.

Whether we’re thinking about the impact of artificial intelligence on white collar jobs or the implications of the National Living Wage, we can only explore and address the challenge of the future if we harness the power of collaboration.

The common denominator in all these issues is people – and their talent and skills. Yet, a survey carried out earlier this year polling the views of HR leaders across 30 countries revealed that two-thirds believe that HR professionals are undervalued by the CEO and many HR departments are clearly concerned that they do not have sufficient influence with the board.

Is it time for HR to become more proactive? They are certainly in the frontline when it comes to many of these challenges. Take Brexit, for example. Recent analysis suggests that around 10% of the national workforce is made up of non-UK nationals and the fact that EU workers make up for much of the country’s UK skills shortages in areas such as engineering and IT is a major concern for recruiters and HR as a whole.

There’s also a whole series of other employment-related issues to navigate such as the need to publish details of the gender pay gap and the apprenticeship levy.

But it would be easy to focus on these and forget the need to be strategic, to concentrate also on the empowerment and engagement of staff, ultimately to ensure better results.

As we move into 2017 and beyond I encourage everyone to move collaboration to the top of their agenda and harness the power it brings with it. This is why SD Worx’s conference on 8 February 2017 looks at the strategic issues rocking the business world. The Future of Work – Collaborate and Inspire for Success conference will be a chance to get to the bottom of today’s hot topics and what they mean for individual businesses. We would love to involve you in the debate.

Doug Sawers is managing director of SD Worx UK and Ireland