· Features

Future leader: Victoria Coombes, Mental Health Concern & Insight IAPT

Victoria Coombes, people business partner and Mental Health Concern and Insight IAPT shares her vision for the future of the HR profession.

I spent some time working in Walt Disney World in Florida looking after new recruits. When I returned to the UK, I decided to study my masters in HRM through the Open University. Shortly after I started the course, I was offered my first role as an HR and learning assistant. Working full-time while studying was a huge challenge but rewarding as I was able to apply my learning straight away – especially useful as, six months in, I ended up as the only HR practitioner in the business.

Recruitment and retention is a major focus as there’s a real shortage globally in healthcare workers. Being a not-for-profit organisation, we cannot always match the high salaries that other providers can offer, so we have to make sure that we’re giving our colleagues the best working experience that we can. 

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Employee engagement has always been important, but it is going to have to be a key focus for HR over the next five years. The pandemic showed a lot of people that they don’t need to work in an office all day, every day, to do their jobs effectively.

We also have generation Z entering the workforce, who bring with them a different perspective on what they want to experience in the workplace. It’s going to be crucial for HR to respond to this challenge and ensure businesses are adapting to the expectations of the workforce. 

I’d love to think that by the time I retire, we’ll have mastered equality, diversity and inclusion, having created truly diverse and fair workplaces in which everyone’s unique talents are celebrated and where no one is left behind. It’s great that this has become a bigger talking point in recent years, and there is a lot of great work underway in lots of organisations and across society as a whole. 

I think sometimes HR can be seen as overly bureaucratic, caring more about processes and putting red tape in the way. I really want to play my part in increasing faith in HR and in demonstrating that we can truly
add value. 


This article was first published in the September/October 2022 issue of HR magazine. Subscribe today to have all our latest articles delivered right to your desk.