HR Issues for 2015

It is that time of the year when Santa’s red hat is worn by many of us and a beckoning sign of another year. As we prepare for the yuletide and clear our desks, it is not out of place to remind ourselves of issues that will be in the front burner for 2015.

Tim Sackett has set the ball rolling when he noted that retention will be a major issue for HR in 2015. He went further to describe it as the ‘biggest issue no one is talking about”. I’ll add that there are other issues that will form part of our baggage in the coming year.

As unemployment figures across many countries are readily available, shortage of employability skills does not receive much attention. This is one thing HR professionals and recruiters alike will contend with in 2015. It is one thing to have a pool of applicants and outrightly another to have a pool of employable applicants. Filling up vacancies with candidates who have requisite qualifications and skill-sets wont be a walk through the park in the new year.

If skill-sets are important assets for job applicants, it should also extend to HR people. HR Analytics is sometimes seen as another buzzword and mistaken to be a fad; while financial proficiency is seen as not important to HR. My message to proponents of this school of thought is that Analytics has come to stay. For HR to achieve its strategic importance in the boardroom, our understanding of cash-flow and financial statements need improvement.

I do admit that the issues raised in this blog are by no means exhaustive and might stimulate contrary opinions. I must say that it is for the good of HR profession when we have diverse perspectives to issues. As we countdown to 2015, I am wishing everyone a happy holiday season.

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The Need to Train Your Employees

Spending on improving the capacity of employees is one thing most organisations see as digging a hole in their bottom lines. In a post recession era where businesses are trying to grow back their balance sheets, investing heavily on employee development won’t appear anywhere at the top of their strategic goals.

While I do acknowledge that the business climate has been anything but bright, refusing to build the capacity of employees will only compound the current challenges. Without sounding too simple, Companies that give priorities to learning and development of their workforce should be able to predict risks and also put in place mitigating measures. These companies are still not completely immuned from adverse economic conditions.

What fate then awaits organisations that do not pay attention to learning and development? The answer to this question is better imagined than experienced. There are a whole lot of reasons to not only put employees in the forefront but also to maximize their potentials through development. In a fast changing business environment that is driven by technology and customer focused.

Technology is the prime driver of modern business and companies need to embrace this development to stay competitive. Different software and applications are constantly being developed to suit many businesses across varying industries. Investments in technology will require continuous training of employees if it is to yield returns.

Most of the returns posted by companies are represented in figures which are derived from large amount of data. In arriving at some business decisions, qualitative indicators will have to be converted to numbers. Consequently, organizations will have to develop numerate skills of their employees to the satisfactions of shareholders.

Apart from shareholders, another important member in the mix is your customers. Their needs are ever increasing and changing. Sometimes, companies need to be proactive by preempting these needs through development of innovative products and services. These can only be achieved when employees have adequate and continuous training.

Another benefit of investing in employees’ development is that it is a talent management strategy. Highly skilled prospective candidates are attracted toward companies that give room for employees’ growth and development. Organisations that are able to attract skilled hires have competitive advantage and will remain a major industry player.

Check out industry leaders in any kind of business and try to discover what makes them tick. The answer is not far-fetched; it is because their employees are their most prized asset. They invest in their learning and development.

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Measuring the Impact of Learning Interventions

A long held belief in Learning and Development (L&D) is that training of employees has a positive impact on productivity. While this assertion is logical, measuring the impact of training activities is not as easy as we are being made to believe.

A change in organisational objectives or a drop in sales might necessitate the need for training. However, it might be difficult pinning an upsurge in sales or realisation of company’s objectives to learning sessions conducted for employees.

There are lots of models that attempt to evaluate the impact of training on organisations. While these efforts are commendable, it is open to argument whether they have effectively evaluate Returns on Investment (ROI) as far as L&D interventions are concerned.

The common model to measure the impact of any training activity is the KirkPatrick model. The ‘Happy Sheet’ which we are all familiar with, often in form of a questionnaire is distributed to trainees at the end of the session to get their  reactions on the entire exercise. This activity is the first level of KirkPatrick’s model.

We all know how subjective the ‘Happy Sheets’ are. The second level is to determine how well the trainees have assimilated during the learning session by giving them a written test or a group work. How well participants performed in a written test might not be replicated on the job itself.

However, measuring behavioural change on the job can correct over reliance on an excellent test performance. This is the third stage of the model. Sustaining an improved performance on the job cannot be guaranteed as there is always a tendency of employees reclining to pre-training status after a period of increased momentum.

Improvement in results is the last stage of KirkPatrick’s model. An increase in level of production, profitability or cost reduction can be attributed to L&D interventions. Establishing a direct relationship between the two might be a tough call though.


Another perspective to the evaluation subject surfaced with the harsh economic conditions businesses are operating in. Costs and every expense line are subjected to intense scrutiny and must be justified before approvals are given. Consequently, costs and benefits analyses of training sessions are used to calculate Return on Investment (ROI).

Quantifying cost of recruitment might be a simple exercise but definitely not a value driven activity like training. Even though I am an advocate of HR analytics, somethings cannot be adequately measured in numbers.

Let me know what you think please.