2018: the year HR is truly tested

Guest Blog By Nick Dettmar, CEO, Outsource UK


Any HR professional will tell you that HR is not a career you can get comfy in. In fact, you could argue it’s as innovative as law or IT, as due to the ever changing developments (be it legal or societal trends), HR needs to constantly move with the times. One significant shift we’ve seen over the past few years is the fact millennials are more willing to job hop than previous generations. It’s now becoming common to spend less than two years in a job, which for HR is a problem. Losing staff on a regular basis is not only costly financially, but also means a loss of skill, productivity and hard earned relationships.



For HR, this is just one of the daily headaches. The need to stay ahead of the curve has become more paramount than ever, as simply reacting is no longer feasible. In my view, 2018 will be a landmark year for HR as legislative changes mean a new approach is necessary. Here are the key areas where I think HR will be tested in 2018, and how it can use these potential hurdles to create best practice and competitive advantage.


Clutching at laws

Legislation is ever-changing and for many HRs, directors of talent or SME owners, keeping on top of personnel or contractor-related regulations is a big ask. When the IR35 changes were implemented within the public sector we saw the confusion it caused to HR departments, as often until the final law is passed, it’s hard to plan precisely what will need to happen. There is a big chance a private sector version of this regulation is on the cards, so getting ahead now and understanding the implications will be key for 2018. Working with legal teams or sector specialists will help compliance, but scoping out an initial framework to get an idea of how much the business will be affected is key to getting ahead.


The key is not to fall into the same traps as many have around the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Despite legislation coming in May this year, many firms of all sizes are woefully unprepared. They don’t have personal data processes in place, or good governance and security to protect it. HR departments have one of the richest sources of personal data, so by now should really have a framework in place as to how sensitive information will be organised, stored and logged.


The advent of GDPR and other legislation has shown that compliance is a burden for HR, as it takes time away from core matters such as talent management. However, whilst it does take time, it provides the opportunity to not only streamline process, but also save server space. GDPR reduces the chances of duplicated data, and having all the critical information held in one, secure place will enable colleagues to find what they’re looking for, more quickly. So, whilst it’s an initial time burden, the opportunities around productivity are there for the taking. Regardless what the legislation changes bring, we need to adapt. The UK economy has benefited from flexible labour. Industry won’t stop wanting flexibility even if legislation makes current models unattractive. For example, we are working with our customers to identify new compliant models that still provide flexibility, such as bench resource.


Tackling talent

Buying trends always seems an odd way to describe candidate placement, but there has been a noticeable shift over the past few years of how companies are recruiting talent. Direct recruitment has become more common, with recruiters now engaged only for more niche placements. This is probably due to the increased talent turnover now experienced by firms of all size. Knowing that millennials intend to spend less than two years in a role, but recent research showed that 47 per cent of employees are looking to move jobs this year, showing the sizeable issue firms are now faced with.


Therefore, recruitment is no longer just about finding the right person for the job. It’s about looking for solutions to the overall problem – getting people to stay. We’re seeing more companies looking outside the traditional CV, and now focusing more on issues such as how a candidate will contribute and enhance company culture, alongside their commitment to the ethos of the business coupled with personal drive. Having a balanced, cohesive team drives productivity and engagement, so looking more at the big picture could help HR plug the people exodus it’s currently experiencing. Of course you can’t keep people forever, but giving employees an enjoyable working experience will make a significant difference.



The current diversity storm has been hard to ignore, with the topic appearing in the media on a daily basis. As the key people function, this issue will be top of mind for HRs, with subjects such as the gender pay gap or BAME recruitment a board level problem. The result we’re seeing is that more companies are undertaking specific recruitment drives to address the problem. This includes asking consultants to address the current process, and ensure it’s as fair and equal as possible. Firms need to be representative of the people they’re selling to, so ultimately, this reassessment will be good for businesses. It’s also the right thing to do. Diversity is not restricted solely to gender, race or religion – it encompasses harder to measure benefits such as diversity of thought. This benefits all facets of the business – from sales through to the C-Suite, and if a firm’s people are performing well, this usually translates well to the balance sheet.


2018 will be another year of change for HR, as legislative changes such as the GDPR or gender pay gap reporting come into full effect. However, these challenges do present opportunities for firms and their HR departments; to get their processes streamlined and compliant, along with driving best practice. HR is so integral and involved in so many parts of a business it will always be under strain, but acting now at the beginning of the year to set the wheels in motion for a productive year will pay dividends and tee the firm up for a successful 2018.

Author: Kate Thomas

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