The coming year is set to be a big one for HR professionals in the wake of several major pieces of employment legislation introduced last year. From age discrimination regulations and the revised Work and Families Act, to ongoing pension reform and the smoking ban, HR departments are sure to be busy in the next 12 months.
The CBI has also warned that a year of political change, with the transition to a new prime minister and a reinvigorated Conservative party, will create uncertainty for business in 2007.
HR will be expected to fight the ubiquitous 'war for talent' in the face of ongoing skills shortages.
Recruitment and retention of staff will be major concerns in the forthcoming year, according to research by talent management consultancy Taleo. More than two-thirds of the 150 senior HR managers surveyed by Taleo cited employee retention or hiring the best talent as the biggest challenge for 2007.
Martin Tiplady, director of HR at the Metropolitan Police, described recruitment and retention as the "bread and butter" of HR business. As well as the issues of managing absenteeism and workforce planning, Tiplady said one of the Met's main concerns over the next year was preparing for the 2012 Olympic Games.
"We have to start skilling our taskforce and training officers in security and firearms procedures in preparation for 2012," he said. "As part of our talent management programme we need to manage, predict and forecast the skill requirement for the Olympics. Not just for the six weeks the Games lasts but for before and afterwards."
John Lucy, head of HR at Herbert Smith law firm, agreed that keeping key staff was a major priority in the next 12 months. "Retaining staff is our main objective and compensation and benefits is fundamental to that," he said. "The legal profession is very competitive so we need to come up with a package of benefits that encourages employees to stay."
Promoting work-life balance, personal development plans and rewarding achievements are all important aspects in retaining staff, Lucy said.
Stephen Hall, vice-president of HR at rail company Metronet, said talent management was crucial to renewing London Underground's infrastructure during one of the largest refurbishment programmes in the world.
"Due to the size and technical complexity of this contract, with accountability for £17bn expenditure over a 30-year period, key to the success are the people we employ and attract