HR | Atlantic - Positive Change at Work

Leading topics in HR

Dec 01, 2008

Patsy MacLeanHRA’s Patsy MacLean was invited to speak on the hot topics for HR to a recent regional gathering of  workers’ compensation executives.  We asked her to share some thoughts on this request.

“I enjoy being asked to speak about HR topics.  Whether it is about professional and ethical standards, or where the HR profession is headed, speaking engagements are an opportunity to step back and take a broader view of what I do as an HR consultant on a day-to-day basis.

“Add to this the fact that I’m an avid reader, and am always keen to share my learnings with others.  There is a steady stream of new studies, books and theories hitting the HR bookshelves, but winnowing out the buzzwords to identify the substance of these works is where I believe I can add value to the knowledge-base of my audience and clients. 
“In preparing this recent presentation I considered,  “What are the truly hot topics for HR as represented by our clients’ needs?”  The end result was a list of topics that sound very similar to the topics I would have listed five years ago:

  • the impact of the demographic shift;
  • best practices in poeple management;
  • absenteeism;
  • work’life balance;
  • mental health; and,
  • management and leadership skills.

“When you get right down to it, there are very few revolutionary theories or management breakthroughs. What makes people tick hasn’t really changed all that much over the years.  Nevertheless, our understanding of what makes people tick has improved and how we approach these issues has changed.   Improved understanding gives us a powerful insight into the important challenges that face today’s employers in attracting and retaining their most valuable asset, their employees.

“From this perspective, I examined the issues by setting challenging questions for myself as well as for the audience.  For example, rather than providing yet another iteration of numerous presentations on the aging population, we looked at whether, in today’s economic climate, the demographic shift is the breaking of the dam or creating bottlenecks, and is there a silver lining for the silver-haired employees.  We also challenged the notion of applying a single “best practice”  in favour of the bundling of best practices.

“It is important from time to time to step back and take a fresh look at the challenges employers experience.   Ultimately,  HR isn’t about who can provide the most entertaining read, but about what HR practices add value to the organization.  Our eyes must always be on the results.”

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