Depending on the markets that companies operate in, there is a growing need
for HR to cover a larger number of imponderables, however well the business
strategy has been developed and implemented.
Whether it be call centres to India or other parts of the world, allowing
companies to cut costs from their UK businesses and attract higher-qualified
staff at lower salaries and overheads, HR’s input is essential for long-term
success. It is vital both in terms of the strategic input at corporate level,
and the operational input at unit or geographical level.
Even more poignant is the developing or setting up of operations in areas of
conflict, or geographical locations that are suffering from post-war trauma.
In these circumstances, there is a need to amalgamate skills from the
corporate centre and operational HR activities, to ensure that those aligning
the business strategy have first-hand experience of the conditions in which
their staff, interims and sub-contractors have to operate, along with their
supply chain partners and supply routes. Only then can strategies align with
It is in these circumstances that HR takes on the mantle of a true
integrated business partner, weighing up the commercial opportunities available
to the business against the risks that may be prevalent in the region – risks
that could ultimately and dramatically affect their employees and partners.
To ensure business risks are minimised and staff safety is paramount, HR has
to take on a seriously pragmatic view of the situation, particularly in terms
of pre-planning, strong project management at operational and implementation
stage, and ensuring processes and procedures are in place, fully understood by
all players and strictly adhered to.
There is a need to fully analyse the ‘What If’ scenario, and put plans in
place for swift deployment or extraction, which requires a close rapport with
all allied or ‘friendly’ forces in the region.
To be fully effective, HR needs a seat at the project management table when
the terms of reference are established for such business ventures. It needs a
checklist, such as this:
– Where – location and transportation
– Type of venture – facilities
– Terrain and remit – type and calibre of resources
– Candidates – in-house and/or external
– Personal profiling – strength of character, self- reliance, proven
determination and technical skills
– Mobilisation – to/from and when
– Security – resources, on the ground and in transit
– Set-up and operation – control and risk factors
– Deployment and/or extraction – pre-determined plan and process.
Few in HR will have the chance to work in such circumstances. Those who do
understand the enormity of the task and the personal accountability placed upon
By Stephen Hall, Chairman, SMHA incorporating, Performance Consulting