What are your main concerns in HR today?
We have to cover a number of roles within our organisations, so we are always having to wear different hats. While we’re here to be strategic thinkers and to drive the business forward in terms of its people, this can conflict with the fact there are a lot of day-to-day operational, transactional things. We have to try not to get bogged down with the transactional activities, however it is still important that they are completed.
What will become more important for HR over the next five years?
Historically businesses haven’t really understood mental health, but over the past 20 to 30 years we have become more aware of the conditions that many people suffer from. I think over the next five years it will become increasingly important for HR and businesses in general to understand how mental health issues affect employees, and how the business can better support its people.
I also think the current skills shortage isn’t being tackled enough. While the apprenticeship levy and new qualifications are helping, there is still not enough talent coming through. This is a problem HR needs to address.
Flexibility is also important and I can see that nowadays employees are looking for more flexible working arrangements, whether that be compressed hours, flexi time or working from home. HR needs to react to this to ensure the organisation is an employer of choice.
What subjects will HR still be tackling when you retire?
I don’t think HR will ever get away from the need to develop managers and employees. HR spends a lot of time developing managers to be competent enough to manage their employees and there will always be more to do around that.
On the other side, I would hope we won’t still be tackling HR’s transition from being seen as an admin-based personnel function to being seen as more strategic. There’s a tendency in organisations to place us in the personnel box; I hope that by the time I retire we have moved completely away from that.
What do you plan to do to change HR for the better?
Something that I think lets HR down is that our strategies often aren’t aligned with the overall objectives of the business. So in my career I want to make sure that when I develop people plans there is always a link back to the business.
I also strongly believe that the HR best-fit model – where we look at HR best-practice and tailor it to the specific organisation – is more effective than the HR best practice model that the function tends to follow, so I aim to follow this best-fit model.
Gary Jamieson is regional HR manager at Total Produce