Helen Giles, HR director, Broadway Homelessness and Support
Many of the certainties of the past decade will be turned on their head by the recession. The now somewhat arid, stale and circular debates in HR about business partnering and the strategic contribution of HR will change, as these are the product of businesses and HR having been stuck in a comfort zone.
The goalposts for things such as talent management will shift as organisations and sub-sectors that still have a future seek to attract the displaced people from those that don't. A lot of the stuff that has been seen as too traditional and old hat to warrant attention - such as managing redeployment and redundancies or industrial relations - will now regain importance, but HR thinkers and practitioners will dress them up in new jargon.
However, I think the main challenge will not arise from the recession, but from the built-up legacy of discrimination legislation and emerging case law. The age discrimination legislation means there are no employees who cannot claim if they are minded to do so - which increasing numbers of people clearly are, as shown by the massive increase in employment tribunal claims.
Private sector employers will find their under-performing employees less inclined to disappear for a moderate payout, having read of the high-profile settlements made to the likes of a newscaster (£250,000 to settle an age claim) and a banker (£2.8m awarded for race discrimination). Employers might also find the staff service centres they outsourced are too remote, under-resourced or under-skilled to support them with the due process needed to avoid such scenarios.
And the introduction of the right to positively discriminate where two candidates can be distinguished only by gender or race is going to add more buried explosives to the minefield that businesses are going to have to negotiate.
I predict that 2009 will be a bonanza year for the disaffected (for valid reasons or not) and their legal representatives.
Alan Warner, corporate director of people and property, Hertfordshire County Council
Every organisation wants to see maximum value added by HR. As we plough into an economic snowdrift, there is a great opportunity to demonstrate the contribution HR can make.
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