· 1 min read · Features

HR future leader of the month: Sarah Sully


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?

One of the main concerns in HR today is the uncertainty and implications that Brexit will have on the HR sector.

At River Island we employ a diverse range of employees from European countries, depending on what is decided this could have a big impact and potentially reduce our current talent pool.

My other concern is ensuring that HR and the business are aware of and adapt to the ever-changing needs of employees. Prospective employees’ main priorities are changing; salary is not top any more. Flexible working, culture and corporate responsibility are emerging as deciding factors on what company talented people want to join.

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

A focus on investing in and developing current talent within the business will be a key catalyst for success. Employers will need to invest in training and development to ensure that they retain talented individuals.

HR data analytics will also become increasingly essential to show the monetary impact HR departments have on the business.

The demand for flexible working will also increase. Traditionally the demand for flexible working has come from employees who have children. However, because of increased demand from staff wanting a flexible working environment, I believe businesses will see an increase in applications.

What subjects will HR still be tackling when you retire?

Attracting and retaining talent will always be a challenge for HR. What is important to employees today may not be important to them in 30 years’ time so businesses need to ensure they adapt to these needs.

New advances in technology will also be a subject HR will forever be tackling. It is an exciting time for technology – just look what is now available compared to 10 years ago! The gap between HR and workers is decreasing and the employee voice is more accessible, resulting in HR having to be more reactive.

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

I would like to make HR more commercially savvy. I think it’s very important that HR understands the wider business and how it works.

I would also encourage all of HR to become more financially aware. An awareness of economic changes and the implications for the business will bring more credibility to HR.

Sarah Sully is HR officer at River Island