The Evolving HR Role - The Challenges and Opportunities Facing Today's HR Professional

Oct 10, 2012, 07:00 ET from RANDSTAD CANADA

Randstad Canada discusses the evolution of the HR professional in today's fast-paced business world.

TORONTO, Oct. 10, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - Within the context of global mobility, an increasingly diversified workforce, and looming skill shortages, there has never been a greater need for HR professionals to question what they do, why they do it, and the purpose of their work. Randstad Canada, the Canadian leader for staffing, recruitment and HR Services, discusses the opportunities and challenges facing HR professionals and addresses five basic concerns that go the heart of the talent management function's future.

It is undeniable that the challenges and opportunties within the human resource field are constantly evolving. Here are just a few of the competitive challenges and opportunities that face human resources management departments:

Sourcing top talent

The opportunity: The war for talent is putting pressure on today's organizations, offering great career prospects for skilled recruiters. "At Randstad Canada, we've seen an increased demand for HR consultants and recruiters. The demand for the first half of 2012 (Q1 2012 and Q2 2012), compared to the first half of 2011 is up 44% in Canada,'' says Jean-Francois Vezina, Vice President, Randstad Professionals.

The challenge: Talent shortage, especially in technical fields, will continue to be the most pressing issue for employers over the coming years. Broadening the search, providing additional training to current staff, partnering with campuses, focusing on retention, are but a few strategies HR professionals can put in place to overcome skills shortage.

Managing diversity in the workplace

The opportunity: As organizations compete on a global scale, there is the growing necessity to employ diverse talents in order to understand the various niches of each market. There's a great value in employing a mix of talent from diverse cultural backgrounds, genders and ages, in order to respond efficiently and creatively to new business opportunities.

The challenge: HR professionals have to be well aware of the different set of expectations in order to hire, and retain the best talent. ''Diversity in the workplace is definitely a key driver for innovation and growth, but that requires agility from HR departments. Taking the time to understand the needs of the different groups and create a value proposition that talks to them will go a long way in fostering a harmonious and productive workplace,'' adds Vezina.

Relying more heavily on a contingent workforce

The opportunity: Temporary and contract staffing is on the rise. In today's ever-changing and competitive business world, adopting a talent on demand approach helps organizations better control the hiring costs. "The economic crisis in 2009 has accelerated the shift toward free agents, contingent workers and just-in-time employees, as organizations have learned to become more adaptable in order to deal with market fluctuations,'' says Vezina.

The challenge:  As organizations deal with an increasingly complex supply chain, HR professionals need to manage volume requirements without compromising quality of hire. They need to work on all fronts: forecasting the demand, putting in place efficient tracking tools, dealing with multiple external vendors, while focusing on employee engagement and adequate training.

Tapping into social recruiting

The opportunity: To better connect with younger workers, many companies are embracing social media. HR recruiters have quickly learned to use tools like Linked in to target the exact skill sets required for often difficult-to-fill positions.

The challenge: But social media forces companies to be image-conscious. According to Vezina, "Information travels fast on social media, and frequent and open interaction allows candidates to develop their own idea of the company's values and brand quite quickly. HR professionals must ensure there is a strong connection between what the brand promises and what it delivers in terms of work conditions and career prospects. Young workers won't give in to promises, they want to be happy in their jobs right away,'' he says.

Acting as a strategic partner

The opportunity: Today, most companies feel that their HR departments are direct contributors to their business. HR can help meet the business objectives by managing and leading change, and mobilizing talent in order to keep the organization competitive. "There are growing opportunities and career prospects for HR professionals with a business background who are able to show the impact of their resource management strategies on the company's growth,'' says Vezina.

The challenge: Organizations acknowledge the importance of involving HR in their business strategies, but there is still a gap between the vision and the reality. "What we've observed is that not many HR professionals have had a huge experience in fulfilling that strategic role, as they were solely focused on the transactional function. Companies need to define how they want to bring their HR resources to the next level, providing them with the business vision and the tools they need to get there,'' says Vezina.

About Randstad Canada: Randstad Canada is the Canadian leader for staffing, recruitment and HR Services. As the only fully integrated staffing company in the country, we understand the recruitment needs and demands of employers and job seekers across all levels and industries. Through our insightful knowledge of local markets, employment trends and global network of recruitment experts, we are shaping the Canadian world of work. Visit