Industry spotlight on human resources and recruitment
In a rapidly-changing business environment, companies are placing greater value on human resources and recruitment professionals to help manage risks and build the capabilities they need to adapt and grow.

The latest data from SEEK Employment Trends shows demand for HR and recruitment talent is on the rise. SEEK job ads for the industry were up by 5% year-on-year in February and the average advertised salary was $82,215.

Angela Horkings, Director, Executive HR Search with specialist HR recruitment firm Tandem Partners, says industry professionals with commercial acumen are in high demand. “Companies are looking for HR talent with a strong understanding of business cycles,” she explains. “They need to be future focussed so they can identify the skills the company needs in the years ahead.”

Planning for the future

The majority of employment categories within HR and recruitment saw year-on-year growth in job ads in February. Remuneration and benefits job ads were up by 27% while organisational development rose by 19%.

“Workforce planning falls into the category of organisational development and we are seeing growing demand in this area,” says Horkings. “A lot of small-to-medium businesses are going through growth phases and larger companies are expanding their markets and finding ways to be more competitive. This means they need to focus on the future capability of the business. If their business is changing, what does their workforce need to look like? HR professionals are expected to be able to identify the resources a company will need.”

Horkings adds that workplace culture is also a focus on organisational development. “Workplace culture is especially important while businesses are growing,” she says. “Some smaller innovative companies want HR talent to find creative ways of building culture and throw away the rule book. Older and larger companies tend to have more complex operations for HR to work within while developing workplace culture.”

Focus on risk management

SEEK job ads for occupational health and safety within the HR profession also increased in February, rising by 15% compared to the same time last year. Horkings explains employers are looking for talent with strong risk management skills.

“In addition to employee relations, employers are looking for HR talent with functional expertise in workplace legislative requirements and an ability respond to risks, such as bullying and harassment.”

Jennifer Rees-Gay, Manager - HR Recruitment at Robert Walters, says employers are placing greater emphasis on mental health within their broader health and safety plans. “We’re seeing a lot of interest in wellbeing specialists,” she says. “More employers are taking a pro-active approach to mental health and are offering support beyond the traditional employee assistance programs. They are promoting wellness throughout the business and are also training their workforce to be aware of signs they can look out for among their colleagues.”

A slip in training and development

SEEK job ads for training and development saw a year-on-year decline of 11% in February, however Rees-Gay says there is still strong demand for these roles.

“Employers need to have effective training programs in place because candidates are constantly thinking ‘what’s next?’,” she explains. “We are seeing demand for people who can create the training content and then train managers so they can train their own teams.”

Horkings adds that data is becoming increasingly important for training and development. “HR talent are now expected to be able to analyse data and use it in areas such as leadership development,” she explains. “They can look at the turnover rates within a particular team, for example, and identify if the manager needs coaching or training to help retain employees.”

Attracting talent

While HR professionals are expected to be at the forefront of employee engagement, Horkings says many companies are falling behind when it comes to engaging candidates.

“This shouldn’t be happening – HR should be leading the way but we find that candidate engagement is slipping,” she says. “Employers need to have a clear process and a clear timeline around recruitment. They can’t afford to drag it out because they risk losing the best candidates who don’t want to wait for weeks to receive an offer.”

Horkings says employers can streamline their recruitment process by focusing on the core requirements of a role. “Take time to clearly define what it is that you need in a role,” she advises. “Rather than just using words like ‘innovative’ and ‘strategic’, think about what you actually need from a practical point of view.”

Rees-Gay adds that competitive salary is also key to attracting talent. “HR professionals are usually familiar with salary benchmarks, so employers need to ensure their own offer is competitive,” she says. “Like all candidates, HR people are also interested in developing their skills, so it helps if an employer has a clear training plan in place.”

The latest data shows Australian job ads were up by 8% year-on-year and the majority of industries experienced growth. Find out more in this month's SEEK Employment Trends summary.