Hot topics for HR in 2013

2012 was a huge year for HR practitioners, and with the rapid progress into 2013 paired with the foreseeable future for the HR and recruitment industry, it is clear that substantial times lie ahead for the industry.

2012 was a huge year for HR practitioners, and with the rapid progress into 2013 paired with the foreseeable future for the HR and recruitment industry, it is clear that substantial times lie ahead for the industry.

tony wai crackerjackSo when 2013 brings a year of obstacles, challenges and change, we need to ask ourselves what issues are likely to be at the top of our HR managers' lists?  We’ve put together a list of six hot topics that senior managers and HR practitioners should be considering this year.

Bridging the generation gap
The ongoing debate about Generation X and Y collaboratively working together is still an argument worth concern.  Recent research has shown that it’s simply a case of misunderstanding, a factor that in most cases is likely to always remain, due to the differing opinions of the opposites.

A key challenge for HR managers will be to find ways to bridge the age gap and concentrate on finding a suitable, balanced ground where it is possible to manage the needs of both generations in the workforce. 

In my opinion, employee management will also be the number one concern on any HR practitioner’s list.  Having a thorough understanding of your staff means that you can create ways to support and appeal to Gen Y, feeding them information, passing on workload and challenging their training – while at the same time magnifying the present skills of senior staff, who have more industry related experience, and who are more likely to stick around.

Keeping it healthy
With workload employee management comes individual employee management, where it is imperative that businesses are consciously aware of the health and well-being of their staff.  The economic downturn still affects many workers today, as previous staff and cost reductions means employees are taking on a much larger workload and forcing them to be under pressure much more than ever before.

Research has indicated that, for the second consecutive year, stress has topped the list of reasons for workplace absence.  Leaders need to ensure the workplace practices are efficient, flexible and organised to counteract this common feeling amongst our employees today.

When, (and yes, you will experience this) the workload or the mere feeling of being in the workplace becomes too overwhelming for an employee, it is important for companies to be supportive and understanding of their staff.  Let’s face it – we are at a stage and culture where it is acceptable for staff to express their feelings surrounding workload, and it is expected that they voice their issues if they are struggling to cope.

Making better use of technology
This goes hand in hand with employee health.  Having up-to-date equipment and technology can remove some of the manual labour expected of some staff.  HR software and systems now make it possible to automate banal tasks and monitor performance management, keeping track of holidays and absence.  Although sometimes expensive, technology has rapidly decreased in price and should be a fast call for investment among businesses of all sizes.

Exploiting social media
In the past, HR has been one of the slowest industries to embrace social media.  The lack of a 'human touch' has left a question mark hanging over the adaptation of social media into the HR world.  If you’re still pending the conversion then you need to take a risk and get on it, and fast.

It’s simple; people are busy.  Clients and potential applicants are all about the ease of the application today.  They want less time-consuming ways of applying for jobs, particularly in a time when new job opportunities are scarce when comparing this to the community that is actively searching.  2013 is the time for HR to step out of its comfort zone and embrace social media and it’s ideas of collaboration, sharing insights, and simple communication in a quick, active and stress free environment.

Keeping up with employment legislation
2013 has seen a number of significant changes to employment law – and it will be vital for HR professionals to ensure they are fully informed about the impact of the changes.

March saw a change in the length of parental leave, increasing from three to four months, while pensions, PAYE, employee-owner contracts and plans to overhaul tribunal rules are also topics under discussion for changes.  If you haven’t already, get planning.  Make the change-over as smooth as possible and prepare your organisation and its staff for the changes.

Raising their own game
Considering your own knowledge in your role is an ongoing issue that needs to be considered.  Find ways to increase your knowledge about topics that may concern you in your role.  Whether it be financial studies, or simply increasing your awareness about the current markets you operate in, it is vital for supporting business growth that HR professionals are educated in these fields.

 Tony Wai is the managing director of professional recruitment/contracting agency Crackerjacks Contracting