News & Insights

HR influence increasing in the boardroom

By Michelle Carson-Williams, Chief Executive and Founder 03/08/2016

Committed to being at the forefront of HR from a strategic perspective, Holmes Noble has been investing in extensive research into how the function is evolving. Chief Executive and Founder Michelle Carson-Williams, who leads Holmes Noble’s board and HR practice, has conducted a series of one to one interviews with some of the UK’s most experienced and highly regarded HR directors.

This piece of work is delivering insight around HR as a valuable strategic discipline.

Emerging trends include the rise of the psychological contract, and how employee engagement is evermore a top priority. In addition, there is the need to segment internal audiences, demonstrated by the new challenges of motivating Millennials – tomorrow’s leaders who have different priorities to their predecessors.

This new generation is motivated by attractive cultural benefits over and above the simple monetary ones – a work/life balance, engaging working environment and lifestyle-related benefits. Flexibility, in every sense, is the watchword.

Furthermore, unlike previous generations, the majority of Millennials are no longer looking for a job for life, simply the next stage on their career path. This is resulting in more movement between roles, but also more motivation to out-perform, as they increasingly use each position as a springboard.

Talent management, ever a key area in the HR function, is ever more critical in the global workplace. A proactive talent management approach is vital in ensuring talent is not only grown, but remains within the company. The consequences on the drain of talent are more far-reaching than ever before.

It is also essential that boardrooms are fully focussed on the impact of technology. Globally and locally, there is now a need for 24/7 monitoring of the digital infrastructure around everything from the security and management of personal data from a corporate perspective, to how both current employees and potential employees are interacting on social media channels. Social media means that a business’s reputation is no longer safeguarded within its walls – it is highly public and open to damage from every angle.

There is still a considerable amount of work to be done when it comes to diversity in UK boardrooms. Ethnic diversity remains behind the curve and whilst still a significant challenge gender is almost 20 years ahead.  Leadership styles as a diversity topic is rarely considered and for organisations to be truly representative of their global workforces all should form part of the diversity agenda.

The HR landscape continues to become more complex. There is the challenge of ‘life-long upskilling’. How does a business accommodate the needs and aspirations of a workforce that potentially spans four generational cohorts? Indeed, recruiting, engaging and retaining talent is only going to get harder.

Are performance related pay rewards the most effective motivational tool across the generations? Diversity – more than in terms of recruitment, but in relation to management style – may well play the most important role in moving businesses forward.

HR directors are increasingly a part of the boardroom and are an advisor to the C-suite, in particular relationships with the CEO and CFO are critical.

The above is a just snapshot of the early outtake from Holmes Noble’s current research, but it certainly demonstrates the company’s sincere and credible claim to be leading in the category. This extensive report, about how the landscape is changing from an HR director perspective, will be available to download shortly.