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‘HR should engage with external challenges’

'HR should engage with external challenges'

HR professionals should do more to engage with external factors which affect their organisations rather than confining themselves to a narrow focus on their own duties, according to the director of an HR research and consultancy body.

Institute for Employment Studies (IES) director Peter Reilly says HR departments should focus on anticipating and finding solutions for factors such as regulatory regimes which are imposed on businesses.

Speaking to HR magazine, Mr Reilly said creating a culture of openness to ensure their organisation can overcome such factors should be a key responsibility of HR departments. 

"Things like mis-selling of pensions or payment protection schemes – those sorts of things are having a profound impact on how organisations position themselves," Reilly said. 

"I’d like to see HR more in the foreground on these sorts of issues. It's getting into the stuff which is not just normal business-led stuff, but also what’s coming up over the horizon from the world outside."

He said it would be difficult to achieve such change as HR professionals already have a great deal to do in the day-to-day running of their departments. While they should continue to focus on these responsibilities to a the best of their abilities, they should not have too restrictive an outlook.

Some of the changes would involve HR staff having the confidence to speak out and make a contribution, he claimed.

The report, IES Perspectives on HR 2014, covers a number of topics in addition to perennial concerns such as personal development, organisational efficiency, organisational values and culture, and leadership.

Big data and HR analytics, zero-hours contracts, crowdsourced leadership and establishing a culture of openness are among the other themes explored in the publication.

According to Mr Reilly, the report constitutes a re-emphasis of last year's findings, which called for HR to become a business partner rather than merely a service function. The 2014 edition expands on that by encouraging an awareness of the context within which a business operates and promoting a more holistic view of work. 

Mr Reilly's contribution focuses on outsourcing, arguing that it should be done in a systematic way rather than one that is "politically expedient".