Should HR professionals be worried? Not really, says Denny, because its missing the point, companies need HR to be strategic. Although if a company tells its HR department its about costs, then they will be worried. If they are told its strategic and theyre going to be involved, they will understand the value.
She cites the example of Martin Hunt who has driven through a shift at Lloyds/TSB and set up a shared-service centre rather than have HR in many centres and has created HR partners. He hasnt really used technology, just changed the structure and skill sets. Nor has it seen massive redundancies. He may have reduced headcount in some areas, but has increased it in others, says Denny.
But what if you do have to reduce headcount what kind of personality do you need to be able to take it in your stride? Daniel Kasmir, the HR director at Manpower, is one of the new breed of HR directors. He is still in his early 30s. I dont want to sound like Genghis Khan, he says, but HR has got to be commercially focused, you can forget the wishy-washy stuff of the past.
The role of HR is changing because the perception of directors in boardrooms is changing they now realise that people are the source of competitive advantage. What it means is that they have to be dogmatic and self-confident to promote that agenda you need real stamina to drive and motivate people to give people responsibility early in their careers and reward them for it.
In boardroom discussions, you need vision and tenacity. Its a time for bravery and the faint-hearted will struggle. Cutting back on HR staff? Its tough, but you just get on with it, its the nature of HR being a business partner. Theres no place for being wet, just get stuck in and be absolutely brutally commercially focused. HR needs to add value, it will mean hard decisions, but our place is in helping line managers release the potential of their workforce.