HR professionals take on the world

Earlier this year experts from the world of human resources joined together at the sixth annual Cayman Islands Society of Human Resources Professionals conference to hear from a number of experts in the field as to the latest developments within the industry. Business Editor Lindsey Turnbull was in attendance and continues her reports on this most vital of subjects. First in a two-part series.

As the keynote speaker at this year’s CISHRP conference, Dorothy Hill gave a hard hitting presentation on how HR competences could set the stage for success within an organisation. Hill is the Field Services Director in the Southeast US for the Society for Human Resource Management, or SHRM as it is more commonly known.

SHRM conducts regular in depth study on the core competencies with which an HR professional needs to equip themselves. In a recent study in collaboration with the University of Michigan and the RBL Group they undertook their fifth such study, identifying six competencies which could give any organisation a competitive edge.

Hill’s message overall was that HR personnel ought to be credible activists within their company, while at the same time mastering several other key strategic and tactical roles.  

“Our study focused on what executives understand and what they don’t understand about human resources. The mantra we often hear from them is: ‘People are our most important asset; yet 83 per cent of workers are just waiting for the economy to get better so they can leave!” she stated.

That said, Hill confirmed that thankfully increasing numbers of CEOs and board members are understanding that people really do give an organisation its competitive edge.

“Ten years ago all they thought about was the bottom line, but now they are realising that people are the means for their success,” she said. “CEOs have traditionally painted HR personnel as lacking in business acumen – not strategic leaders. We therefore need to ensure that we are a force for change.”

Going global
According to Hill, the growth of the global economy in recent years means HR professionals too have to think globally. “Globalisation has shrunk the world, bringing down trade barriers, while technology has linked the world so it makes it easy to connect. There are one hundred democratic open market economy countries where inflation is low, skill levels of the labour force are on the increase and multi-national companies are increasing in numbers,” she explained.

Therefore the membership of the SHRM has gone global and members now need to understand the culture of the global economy.

Employee power
Increasing healthcare costs in the US will mean consumers will be looking to the global marketplace at a pace “the likes of which we have never seen before” Hill stated. She went on to say that balancing increasing healthcare costs with increasing employee demand for coverage will be a big issue that companies and thus HR departments will be facing I the coming months ahead.

“The burden will start shifting towards the employee with consumer driven healthcare. I foresee a move whereby the employer will provide the funding while it will be up to the employee to decide where they want to go,” Hill said.  

Following on from this, Hill said that employee power is set to grow with individuals massing in groups to push for change, such as retirees lobbying for better compensation. “This type of action can ruin the reputation of a company, so it is critical that communication is continued with employees,” she warned.

“HR is no longer relegated to merely a transactional department; it must take an active role in finding and keeping talent for the organisation.”


Lindsey Turnbull

Cayman’s HR professionals are taking on the world – From l-r: Sam Bennett, Tara Robinson, Elizabeth Depledge, Peter Beckford, Sam Nehra, Donnette Goddard, Meredith McCreadie