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The Shift In HR

08 Apr 2019

Brendan McCarron

Brightwater's Assistant Manager, Brendan McCarron discusses how seismic shifts in attitudes have pushed HR functions to review the ways in which they attract and retain staff.

I attended the People Summit 4th April at the RDS where two of the initial speakers discussed the challenges organisations can face with pace of change. Looking out the window and across at the old Bank Centre, you couldn’t ask for a better visual representation.

This is where AIB were plying their trade as one of the country’s biggest employers until the crushing economic spiral in 2008. Now 10 years later we are in rapid growth mode with foreign investment blossoming. AIB have moved out to other premises and Facebook (only establishing themselves in Ireland in 2008) are now setting up shop at the bank centre in order to accommodate their rapidly expanding Irish employee numbers. We even had Mr. Zuckerberg himself here in Dublin this week.

10 years from absolute zero to giddy heights is dizzying, considering most analysts record the rise of the Celtic Tiger over 14 years of growth. So how are companies preparing for this ramp-up and quickening pace in 2019?

Agile HR was a recurring theme for the People Summit. Kevin Empey, former HR Director and now CEO of ‘WorkMatters’, believes retention, development, engagement and culture are the keys to HR delivery now. Rewards analytics and competitive remuneration are also playing a big part. However he maintains that the younger generation entering the workforce are looking for something altogether different – flexibility and trust.

Follow-the-sun software development, EMEA-wide video conferencing, uncapped annual leave entitlement and even job-sharing. The digital capability of companies to offer remote and flexible work environments is becoming increasingly important for attracting and retaining the new employee base. Is your company or organisation looking at, or able to offer, these potential options? Are your policies written to accurately accommodate such things?

I am seeing remote and flexible working arrangements take pride of place within benefits packages, moving former champions such as annual bonus and pension further down the pecking order. I was able to complete a successful hire last month by persuading the hiring company to include one day per week remote working from the start, with a view to this increasing after the initial probation period, where hopefully trust is earned and gained. Another job which I recruited for in January was only made possible by changing the hours of work. The company was operating internationally and by questioning the fixed hours of work, I was able to negotiate an arrangement that made the commute possible for the candidate involved. The company had not considered this as a possibility at the start of the recruitment process.

It is ironic that, whilst Facebook are investing heavily in a new physical location and EMEA Head office, most companies should be looking to enable their employees to work from home and HR are going to be the facilitators in this process. Hiring and on-boarding employees virtually, managing attendance by analysing log-in times, monitoring uncapped holiday entitlements… The future HR landscape will be full of challenges and departures from the norm and it’s time to get ready!

To quote Kieran Mulvey, former Head of WRC, in his presentation yesterday - ‘The pace of change has never been so fast, yet it will never be as slow again’.

Brendan McCarron is Assistant Manager with Brightwater’s Human Resources division and specialises in the recruitment of HR professionals at all levels across a wide variety of sectors. He can be reached at b.mccarron@brightwater.ie