Increased HR Competency for an Increasingly Complex Workforce

10 Nov 2017
Increased HR Competency for an Increasingly Complex Workforce

There was a time when all you had to do land a job and excel in it was to get a degree for it, and work hard. Nowadays, the workplace and the workforce have become a lot more complex than that.


If you were, say, an accountant, or wanted to be one, you majored in accountancy and applied for a position at a firm. But the economy and technology have teamed up to change what was once a relatively straightforward job into a position that requires proficiency in several other specialisations such as fintech, taxation, and financial planning and analysis.


As businesses require their employees to have more specialised skills, it is up to human resources managers to help these businesses find these employees, and to make sure that they remain satisfied and motivated in the workplace.


This means that if workers need to adapt to the changing demands of the workplace, the HR managers must evolve alongside them. These demands not only dictate what kind of skills employees need, but the kinds of solutions HR managers need to provide for their organisations. Such solutions include streamlined operations and programmes for continuous staff development.


To pinpoint how HR needs to evolve is to highlight the important role it plays within a business.


Perhaps its most recognisable role is being responsible for hiring staff, and making sure that the people who join the organisation have the right skills and cultural fit. Indeed, it falls to HR to maintain the prevailing “office culture” if it is one that fosters productivity and facilitates working relationships.


Once suitable candidates have been hired, HR oversees training, helps new hires to settle in, and maps out individual career paths. It is also responsible for succession planning, and ensuring that there will always be someone qualified to perform a certain role at any given time.


Keeping up to date with market trends as regards compensation and benefits likewise falls under HR’s duties, as this enables a business to retain its staff. HR managers implement team building and other such activities that nurture the office culture, as well as mediate between parties should conflicts arise. It also falls to HR to manage the organisation’s public image in the event of larger workplace issues.


Ensuring workplace safety is another HR responsibility, especially in such industries as manufacturing. HR is also involved in making sure the organisation complies with the official regulations that govern its particular industry.


On a managerial level, HR spearheads any directional changes a business makes, making sure that the organisation’s goals and the strategies for achieving them are effectively communicated and implemented at every level. HR managers also participate in making decisions that affect workforce adjustments in accordance with business demand or economic conditions.


The enormous accountability that rests on HR’s shoulders is compounded by several trends that continue to drive the evolution of HR management.  


As a growing percentage of the workforce turns to digital means of seeking work, HR professionals must employ the same means to seek qualified candidates. These means include online job-hunting portals such as, social media and mobile recruitment platforms, and the creation of resumes in digital formats.


Technology also plays a key role in training new recruits, with many Virtual Reality training platforms, Artificial Intelligence, and automation software already in use for human capital management.


Professionals have likewise increasingly shown a preference for flexible work schedules, with more workers choosing to work part-time or as freelancers. HR managers must be ready with solutions amenable to both their organisations and potential candidates in terms of remuneration, benefits and work-life balance, particularly in IT and creative businesses.


Because finding candidates with the right skills is a challenge in itself, many HR managers have come to rely on referrals as a means of recruiting skilled employees. This tactic helps save time and effort as opposed to hiring staff without a recommendation from someone already within the organisation.


Still other HR professionals face the challenge of finding candidates who are able to take on multiple functions, as many businesses are looking to decrease or desist from hiring altogether. Taking off from our example of the accounting position that opened this article, today’s marketing or advertising exec must now also be familiar with digital or content marketing methods.


Quoting the 2017 Hays Asia Salary Guide, HR in Asia reports that 96 per cent of businesses in Singapore are struggling to find the skilled employees they need. The report also notes that the persistent skill shortage is likely to affect business operations this year. Meanwhile, Jobvite says 65% of recruiters identify skill shortage as the biggest challenge in hiring.


Not surprisingly, digital skills are among the most in-demand at the moment—but the demand for soft skills may come as a surprise.


Quoting LinkedIn, HR Dive says cloud and distributed computing and data presentation are the most sought-after skills. Udemy, on the other hand, notes that HR tends to place more emphasis on a candidate’s soft skills and learned skills, instead of a candidate’s credentials.


Because the requisite digital skills and other competencies for many roles need to be updated continuously, HR must have in-house training programmes in place. Managers also need to keep an eye out for ways to keep the capabilities of employees at every level on the cutting edge. Many businesses therefore sponsor continuing or post-graduate education for their employees.


Cognisant of the need for HR professionals to continue their own education, SMU Academy offers Human Capital Management and Leadership Courses designed specifically to help participants stay on top of HR trends.


These courses include the Certified HR Analytical Professional programme and the HR Analytics Certificate course which enhance an HR practitioner’s decision-making skills based on data and analytics. HR Graduate Certification focuses on the development of sustainable human resource strategies to help businesses attract, recruit and retain employees.

The Academy likewise offers the International HRM Series which familiarise business owners with global HR trends and best practices. Find out how SMU Academy can help you rise to the challenges of today’s human resources industry, to further your personal growth and that of your organisation.