How did you start your career?
I moved in to learning and development as a trainer and assessor working with NVQ and apprenticeship learners. After a few years, I moved to manage an apprenticeship programme for a small, charitable training firm where I got the opportunity to move in to managing the central services of the organisation and became head of HR and facilities.
What do you think is lacking in the profession?
Influence, specifically around culture and strategy. HR professionals need to improve their knowledge and skills in developing culture and strategy, and in turn increase their influence within their respective organisations.
What do you think HR’s biggest future issues will be?
The changing demographic in the workforce will mean a change to employee experience, engagement, organisational culture and even the physical workspace we inhabit. We need to be thinking now about how we encourage and deal with an ageing workforce, what changes that will bring and what it means to work in a multi-generational workplace. If we harness this, we will have the building blocks for a future proof organisation.
Flexibility in the workspace and the workforce and offering truly flexible opportunities means HR itself must flex and adapt. This is an area where HR assumptions about the role of HR has traditionally been slow.
What do you wish you had known when you first started your HR role?
That with the good also comes the bad. For every job you offer, pay rise, bonus or promotion you award, emotional support you give, there are also disciplinaries, grievances, redundancies and sadly even deaths of colleagues, which can overshadow the more positive aspects of the role. Had I been more aware of this, I would have focused on my emotional intelligence and resilience earlier in my career.
What’s been your biggest HR achievement so far?
The work we have been doing over the past four years to be recognised as a truly flexible and inclusive organisation, but also as an age-friendly place to work.
We have now grown to be a recognised age-friendly employer by organisations such as the Prince of Wales Business in the Community organisation and the DWP’s Fuller Working Lives campaign.
What would be your advice to the HR industry?
Be brave and be bold – ensure your voice is heard in your organisations and you are in a position to make a difference. Stop focusing on policies and start engaging with the human element of the role. It’s literally in the job title – get involved with the employee experience journey, learn the business you are in and have your say about culture and strategy. The world and the workforce is changing – don’t get left behind.
Lisa Faulkner is HR business partner at Financial Services Compensation Scheme
This piece appears in the May/June 2020 print issue. Subscribe today to have all our latest articles delivered right to your desk
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