Leadership development and talent management remain key HR challenges for the future

This spring, Hudson and Vlerick Business School mapped the trends and challenges for HRM at leading Belgian companies by way of an HR Barometer. The HR managers of the largest Belgian profit organisations (in terms of staff numbers) and the Bel 20 organisations were invited to participate in an online survey. Some 58 organisations from a diversity of sectors participated in the survey, together representing more than 200,000 workers employed in Belgium.  

Successful HR policy = juggling a diversity of balls

The HR Barometer revealed that many aspects of HR score highly in terms of their strategic interest. It seems HR managers attach importance to multiple HR priorities. 

Dirk Buyens, professor of Human Resources Management at Vlerick Business School: ‘An HR department wishing to pursue a successful HR policy must be able to keep several balls in the air at the same time. Excelling in only one sub-domain of HR is simply not enough. A good HR policy focuses on making the best use you can of a combination of interrelated HR disciplines with the aim of creating a synergetic effect that will have a far greater impact than that of the individual disciplines alone.’

Most organisations indicate having a good grip on the HR core disciplines (learning & development, selection & recruitment, compensation & benefits, performance management, engagement, HR operational excellence and social relationships), but even these continue to remain key priorities for improvement. The two disciplines identified as being most highly in need of improvement were leadership development and talent management. These two disciplines were given highest priority in 2014, in regard of which organisations indicated not yet being able to score highly enough.

Diversity and HR analytics not yet foremost on the agenda

Despite the considerable social awareness for and interest in diversity, this is not considered a key HR priority. Apparently, diversity is not an objective in itself, because HR directors have indicated scoring highly on this point already.

Neither is HR analytics considered a priority area. Even though HR managers indicate not yet being fully versed in the field of HR analytics and actually would like to learn more about it, it has not been ranked a must for the future.

Looking towards the future

Leadership development and talent management are being put forward as the foremost attention points for the future. Although they rank highly on the list of priorities, the organisations participating in the survey have indicated not being able to manage them as well as they would like. In addition to these, the five highest ranking items on the priorities list are complemented with ‘Preparing the organisation for growth’, ‘Engagement’ and ‘Preparing the organisation for stagnation and/or restructuring’. Preparing for growth as well as for downsizing appear to be crucial factors for 2015, showing this to be a case of having your cake and eating it, too: phasing out specific branches of operation will be going hand-in-hand with exploring and expanding on new opportunities.

Ellen Volckaert, Manager of Research & Development at Hudson adds: ‘In order to be able to grow and change, organisations will have to stimulate leadership and make optimum use of the talents of their current and prospective staff. Taking this into account, it comes as no surprise that leadership development and talent management are the two key elements that require continuous attention.’

The impact of the single employment status

The impact of the single employment status appears, above all, to be limited. Less than one third of the organisations interviewed indicated this having any impact on their HR practice. The single employment status resulted in higher absenteeism and an increase in temporary recruitment among labourers, while white collar workers needed less time to make the decision to terminate their contract. Either way, the impact of the single employment status affected only a limited number of organisations, regardless of the category of employee involved.

Download the full report 'HR Barometer 2015'.

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