What is keeping HR/HCM managers up at night?

9 October 2012

Gary Crisp

Gary Crisp



Over the years there have been lots of changes in the field of HR. Like the musician Prince or 'The Artist formerly known as Prince', the area of HR has been constantly reinvented. Some of you may remember Personnel, Employee Relations, HR and Human Capital Management - just as a starter.

During the last few years in particular there have been a number of challenges that have affected the way that HCM departments are perceived and the way that they perform their day to day business.

Effectively over this period HCM Departments have moved from handling simple personnel issues and performing a large amount of administrative duties, to that of making a significant strategic contribution to the future direction and development of an organisation.

Budgets to these departments have been consistently cut and expectations are now high that they will provide a pro-active, rather than a reactive service to the organisation. To meet these demands cost reductions in the provision of the services provided have also taken place so consideration has to be given to how the delivery of these services are conducted, and what involvement HCM have in offering these services. One of the first changes to the delivery of services was with the introduction of self-services and the devolvement of some data input to employees and managers.

There are currently a number of key areas and trends that HCM departments are now involved with. I have recently held conversations with a number of HCM Directors and HCM Business Partners at a variety of SME's and large organisations, regarding the challenges being faced and these are identified below:

Retention and development of staff

With the cost of recruiting, on-boarding and developing new recruits, it is essential that staff are retained as effectively as possible. A number of surveys have found that there is a direct correlation between businesses that continuously develop staff through the Performance Management cycle, but also that, these employees are generally more satisfied with their employers, feel better valued (and or rewarded) and as a result tend to remain with the companies for a longer period of time. 

The longer term effect of this is that there is a reduced cost of continuously recruiting, on-boarding and developing new staff and that the development costs and effectiveness of embedded staff are realised far quicker and impact the efficiency of the business sooner.

Alongside this organisations are increasingly looking at the correlation between whether to recruit new employees or to develop existing staff to cover for shortfalls or deficits in the workforce. With this requirement there is also a necessity to be able to identify relevant skills of an employee against the required skills for a position or role. This information can then be used for:

  • Identifying individual training requirements
  • Skills deficit areas
  • Career and/or Succession planning
  • Recruitment
  • Diversity management

More and more legislation is being introduced around the area of diversity, whether ethnicity, nationality, age, gender, disability or sexual preference. In some areas targets have been introduced and require pro-active monitoring. Examples of this can include interview / hiring, turnover rates by nationality

Workforce mobility

Increasingly the workforce of a business is becoming less office based and more remote, either home based or mobile. Depending on the business this can have an increasing requirement for flexibility of the employee and potentially better use of mobile based solutions, gps etc. to ensure that mobile workers are effectively deployed to relevant locations, provided with relevant information or allocated based on particular skill requirements.

Provision of mobile applications and enabling timesheet and expense input on the go, or the delivery of valuable management information to mobile phones is becoming increasingly more commonplace, with a massive increase in demand for mobile applications.

HCM analytics

Generally speaking the areas of talent management, recruitment and overall HCM metrics are backward looking. Increasingly requirements are for predictive metrics and information that can inform decision making and prevent or mitigate risks or talent related issues.

Absence management

Management of absence continues to be one of the key areas that is of concern to both HCM and the Management of companies. A recent survey conducted by the CIPD identified that an average of nearly 7 working days per person were lost due to absenteeism per person per annum in 2011. The Public Sector continued to have a higher average number of days per person, with approximately two thirds of absence being short term. Less than half of employers monitor the actual cost of absence.


Considering the pro-active requirement of HCM to provide a strategic, cost effective delivery of services, all of these areas have a degree of commonality, this being Talent Management.

Being able to identify skills, profile match skills against requirements, identify gaps, provide pro-active training and fully utilise the skills of the workforce, ensures that an organisations workforce is ready for the challenges of both current and future strategic business requirements, whilst assisting with workforce satisfaction and staff retention.  Workforce satisfaction can also have a direct positive impact on absenteeism in the workplace.

I will be looking into the area of Talent Management with SAP & SuccessFactors in an upcoming blog.

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About the author

Gary Crisp


Bluefin and SAP S/4HANA - welcome to the one horse race

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