· Features

HR future leader of the month: Nicole Graham

HR magazine speaks to the future leaders of the function about what they think will shape it

What are your main concerns in HR today?

Employee wellbeing is essential but goes beyond physical health. Most will suffer from mental ill health during their lives; it should be at the forefront of employers’ minds.

HR has a responsibility to champion wellbeing and support managers to engage in open, honest, and sometimes difficult conversations. It is only by discussing mental health that we can normalise it and ensure that the right support is available when it is needed.

Organisations must look after their people, not only is there a duty of care but if employees’ wellbeing is suffering then performance will likely be suffering too.

What will become more important for HR over the next five years?

Over the next five years – and beyond – I think HR will continue to face the challenge of getting the work/life balance of staff right.

In the UK we often work long hours but productivity is dropping. With mobile, tablet and computer screens constantly within our reach it can be difficult to know when the working day is really over and when we can have some well-deserved down time.

I hope that changes to the way in which we work will positively affect employee wellbeing, enable people to balance work with other commitments, and encourage a more diverse workforce.

What subjects will HR still be tackling when you retire?

It’s hard to imagine what the world will look like as the way in which we work is changing so rapidly.

I hope I’m wrong with this answer but I think we will still be discussing the representation of women in positions of leadership. We are taking steps in the right direction and social norms will likely change over the coming decades, in relation to issues such as family-related leave. However, more needs to be done.

While leadership isn’t for everyone, everyone should have the opportunity to prove their merit and become a leader regardless of gender.

What do you plan to do to change HR for the better?

Personally I want to ensure I act with integrity; building trust with the people I work with is essential to making sure I can do my best for the organisation.

While there is a shared responsibility for all staff to act fairly and in accordance with the values of the organisation, I think it is important for members of the HR profession to be willing to question and challenge decision-making at all levels.

The expectations of what an HR professional needs to deliver is ever-changing and it’s important that we remain flexible, engaged and ultimately relevant so we can continue to add value and contribute to our organisation’s ongoing success.

Nicole Graham is HR manager at The Prince's Trust