This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
HRM 31 Dec 2009
2009 has been the year of grim HR buzzwords - retrenchments, hiring freezes, recession and budget cuts are some of the first to come to mind. Jobs in most industries and roles were major casualties of the global financial crisis, thrusting leaders into an unflattering spotlight and straining relationships between HR and staff. There are plenty of reasons for HR to celebrate the arrival of 2010 in Singapore. For the local workforce, economic growth is imminent as major projects like the inaugural Youth Olympics and two integrated resorts create new employment and training opportunities. While a new year signals the arrival of opportunities for jobseekers, it does not necessarily translate to a fresh start for employers. Dealing with the aftermath of the financial crisis will not be an easy task. Between managing expectations, strengthening trust with employees, and continuous efforts to control costs, HR will have its hands full with a number of different people-related issues. At the same time, it’s not all bad news for HR. According to Mercer’s global Leading through Unprecedented Times survey, published in June, companies in this region are more upbeat about their economic prospects. Indeed, HR issues will be more pronounced than ever before, but the mood in boardrooms appears to be lifting as the period of recovery begins. When asked to enumerate the likely challenges of 2010, most HR consultants say they are concerned with resources for managing talent. Among their chief priorities are talent retention and skills development as a strengthening economy opens more doors to recruits. Branding and attraction will also be an issue for HR, particularly in companies whose reputations have suffered from decisions to cut staff. The end of the economic downturn may be drawing near but employers still have to look carefully at their balance sheets. Residual uncertainties from a year of pay slashes will continue to have an impact on employee morale in 2010. Companies will be scrambling to adjust salaries and pay bonuses to keep up with employee expectations and maintain loyalties. For this reason, compensation and benefits issues were also prominent on experts’ lists. If 2009 made one thing apparent, it’s the way HR functions in locally-based companies link to those in offshore sites. With the economic crisis affecting economies on a global scale, this was a year for re-assessing international assignments. Employers had to adjust remuneration packages according to the sudden weakening or strengthening of currencies in host countries. Additionally, overseas assignments might have been seen as major career incentives before budget cuts forced companies to scale back. HR will have to communicate across borders to restore and re-assess expatriate packages in the upcoming year.
Research from Talent2 shows HR is still seen as a back-office. Not only does HR have to improve its image in the eyes of employees. but most agreed that this is an issue HR must address. Buy-in from senior management is often hard to come by as well. The fact that experts are moving it to 2010’s HR challenges list is both good and bad news. According to the ECA International 2009 Assignment Benefits Survey. and that HR may be better equipped to give employees that muchneeded break. HR has been one of the most vilified departments in many organisations this year. it has to strengthen ties with other business departments. why will cost control still be a challenge? Talent2 reminds employers that recovery in 2010 will not be so drastic that employers no longer have the challenge of dealing with budget constraints. HR must consider costefficient solutions in areas such as compensation and benefits and training programmes. the mantra “do more with less” has trickled from headquarter offices in the US and Europe to Asia. 4 Cost control Cost control will be a corporate-wide priority in 2010. Yet. transactional and operational function in Singapore and much of Asia. Suggestions for improvement vary according to consultants. Organisations will not restore budgets and head counts to anything near pre-crisis levels as they want to maintain continuous efforts to be as distanced from the effects of the economic downturn as possible. despite this region faring relatively better in the crisis. In a recent Hudson Report. Others believe leaders should work to give a stronger definition to HR roles in the organisation so they are more aligned with business requirements. but there will be added pressure on HR to manage budgets through process and policy standardisation. Some suggest HR outsourcing as an important solution. 12% of survey respondents said a dominating priority would be ensuring HR strategy is the cornerstone of the overall corporate strategy. 5 Perceptions of HR Experts found it difficult to rank something so subjective and multilayered. but it is likely to be solidly back on the agenda in 2010. or overtime hours versus leisure time. It is heartening that work-life balance will become a priority. like each of the top five challenges facing HR professionals in 2010. and its efforts to limit attrition were largely underestimated. Two-thirds of participants . In multinationals particularly. But economic uncertainty is not an excuse to ignore the backbone of any business: the people. Achieving Work-Life Balance shifted from the check-list to the wish-list in 2009. HR is under significant pressure to reduce costs for international assignments. It enables HR to decrease its administrative burdens and practice a more direct approach to business needs. high expectations await HR.Employers and employees agree that 2009 was a year of inequity – whether in terms of salary cuts compared to rising costs of living. However. it indicates HR will certainly have its work cut out for it. But if forecasts show an upturn is on the way. HR departments must examine their effectiveness and the way they deliver services to ensure it becomes a high-performing function moving into 2010.
However. Many are feeling stressed and nervous. Finding creative and cost-effective ways of combining tangible and non-tangible rewards will also be a major challenge. HR should know its key talent segments and find out what they value. Leaders must be deployed and equipped at all levels to inspire employees to work towards a common goal in order to minimise distractions and increase productivity. Employee surveys. Mercer consultants suggest looking for measures to contain costs.reported that they intend to review various facets of their benefits policy in the upcoming year. Cost-cutting measures and other effects from the economic downturn have impacted levels of trust and loyalty in employees. they told HRM. Besides feedback. employers are also struggling to find a balance between cost management and finding the right talent to post overseas. and training and development. 2 Compensation and benefits The economic downturn has changed the way HR approaches compensation and benefits. Organisations can leverage economies of scale from regional frameworks on executive pay. The upturn will see some of an organisation’s best and brightest workers leaving to join competitors if their employers don’t take immediate steps to motivate and retain them. employee health and benefit programmes. Research from Talent2 suggests adjusting salary and rewards packages will be half the battle for HR professionals in the upcoming year. Paying special attention to career development opportunities will send a message to employees that their growth in the organisation is encouraged and valued. rebuilding trust and collaboration. A great emphasis should be placed on measuring employee engagement levels within organisations. Hudson says 14 % of respondents to one of its recent surveys expect employee engagement and re-engagement to be linked closely with staff retention next year. HR can be proactive with its retention efforts. it’s the erosion of employee commitment in organisations. They may opt to outsource more non-essential activities. . These conflicting requirements will be a major HR consideration in 2010. HR must structure its exit interview process to find out why people are leaving. The HR challenges lie in reconnecting with the mood of the workforce. According to Hudson. 2010 will be a year of realigning total rewards programmes to meet corporate objectives. will be very useful in highlighting where HR is succeeding and which areas can be improved. Mercer consultants say employers might be surprised at new trends that are emerging. and what it can to do retain current and future employees. Change management programmes must adequately address employee needs. If resignations become more frequent. particularly in areas of work-life balance. Meanwhile Hudson consultants predict that some HR departments will go through restructuring themsleves. 3 Employee Engagement If there is a lesson to be learned from past recessions. and driving continuous and transparent communication.leaders should also be assessed on their roles in motivating employees. for example. Feedback should not just address HR’s initiatives .
Employers will benefit from paying particular attention to using compensation as a retention and motivational tool. They must also gain a better understanding of the skills. According to Mercer’s 2009 Employee Benefits Choice survey. Hudson has looked into the priorities for its clients going forward – here are the key HR issues on their minds. employees will be less cautious and more inclined to change jobs during the recovery. or leveraging non-financial rewards to keep employees better engaged. Being one of the top executive talent challenges faced by companies in Asia. HR’s priorities There’s no doubt it’s going to be another tough year for HR. competitors will once again able to afford to hire and poach. they will also have to take a more individualised approach to rewards and recognition schemes. While the global financial crisis helped to retain staff in 2009. especially for success-critical positions. Likewise. + Talent development: 22% of respondents place it as their top priority . near-100 percent of Singapore companies believe providing employees with a choice in the benefits that they receive is crucial for responding to diverse workforce needs and values. 22% of respondents expect that talent development will take precedence as HR’s first priority moving into 2010. and assess the gap between these needs and existing talents. Proactive HR strategies must be implemented now to retain employees. employees who were more closely scrutinising remuneration and benefits. Organisations which make it a priority to build customised compensation and benefits programmes are in good company. According to the Hudson report. In particular. Out-of-the-box thinking will be crucial in 2010 as companies strive to choose rewards which are relevant and motivational. 1 Talent retention and development This issue makes it to the top of the HR challenges list for a number of reasons. trust and commitment. Improvement of talent development strategies and delivery will be key to leveraging the available talent as effectively as possible. competencies and behaviours that will be required of leaders in their organisational culture. Employers should ensure future leaders are given access to future development and learning opportunities to accelerate their skills development. Hudson says HR departments will be exploring more effective ways of communicating benefit plans that offer individual flexibility and build appreciation. Not only will HR have to be more innovative in this key area in 2010. Mercer adds that developing high-potential talents for the future should also be high on HR’s agenda. job security and career advancement prospects in other companies will gladly make the move as hiring freezes are lifted. Incentive programmes should target all employees rather than just sales personnel who have traditionally been the focus of such initiatives. leadership development initiatives must be stepped up in order to avoid talent shortages at the most crucial levels. Employers also acknowledged the importance of implementing employee choice programmes in order to remain competitive in the marketplace.
but HR can ease the burden by putting some strategies into play immediately.+ Improving staff retention: 18% + Organisational development: 15% + Workforce engagement: 14% + Compensation and benefits: 12% Actions to take now Watson Wyatt says next year is going to be just as challenging as the last. » Refine and communicate your employee value proposition » Strengthen communication at all levels of the organisation » Be clear with employees about what is expected of them and how they are doing » Get performance-based reviews right » Focus on retaining high-performers » Tune-up the HR function to deliver » Take advantage of “engageable moments” .
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.