· 1 min read · Features

Challenges for HR directors in 2010

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No one needs reminding that 2009 was a tough year for HR directors, so as we embark on a new year, what issues might they face and how can they deal with the challenges?

We will see a return of the war for talent. As the recession eases and employees get their nerve back, companies will struggle to retain their top talent. Certainly the phone calls from headhunters have already started, as aggressive firms look to gear up for growth again. This will only continue throughout 2010.

There will be an ongoing struggle to find HR professionals with international experience of significant breadth and depth. As globalisation continues, people with hands-on experience of managing across borders and cultures will demand a premium in the market.

There will be recognition that less is more when it comes to business partnering. It is clear that fewer business partners, operating at a higher level and with greater core capabilities, is the ideal operating model. This is evident in nearly all organisations that we have worked with this year - and we predict this trend to continue through 2010 and beyond.

There will be a continued squeeze on budgets this year, with renewed focus on securing value for money. For HR teams, the challenge will be to ensure that HR remains relevant once all the bloodletting is over. For advisers, gone are the days of large pyramid-style consulting teams Powerpointing their client's future. While organisations will continue to buy consultancy support, we predict they will buy into niche consulting teams with ‘lean and mean' expertise to get the job done in the most efficient and cost-effective way.

I believe there will be an inexorable rise in the use of software-as-service products within HR. This will take more than 20% of market share by the end of 2010, with challenging implications for the old-world ERP suppliers such as Oracle and SAP. Cheaper, more flexible systems that are easier to set up and use can only be good news for HR professionals.

There's no doubt that it is going to be another tough year for all of us, including HR professionals. However, by mapping out some of the expected challenges, HR directors may be able to plan their strategies more effectively, thereby ensuring that 2010 runs as smoothly and prosperously as possible.

Sozen Leimon is a partner at Maxxim Consulting