HR future leader of the month: Sam Franklin


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HR magazine speaks to the future leaders of the function about what they think will shape it

What are your main concerns in HR today?

Proving that HR is not just a luxury but an essential part of any business. In large firms HR is seen as a legal necessity or a cost-cutting exercise, and in small companies it’s seen as a time-wasting burden associated with high costs and a legal minefield.

But businesses don’t need to be afraid of HR! Simple measures can improve retention, engagement, and productivity and hopefully lead to more profit for the business. Gone are the days that HR needs to show its hand by cutting costs. It’s now about improving overall efficiency and therefore profit – that’s what will show HR means business.

What will become more important for HR over the next five years?

Employees are becoming more aware of their work/life balance while simultaneously having greater ease of access out of hours. This leads to a wealth of wellbeing issues. As HR professionals we need to affect a cultural change to gradually remove this out of hours access culture from the ‘norm’.

More frequently we are seeing employees tackling work despite a difficult personal circumstance because they’re too cautious of asking for compassionate leave. Over the next five years, with additional financial uncertainty, this behaviour will only occur more regularly. As employers we need to be as assistive as possible during tough times for our employees – hopefully resulting in a better workplace environment that is more productive.

What subjects will HR still be tackling when you retire?

Employee engagement. As the proportion of machines/computers to humans increases, employees are likely to feel progressively more disconnected.

Ensuring that humans who are predominately working with machines can overcome monotonous disengaging work and still be committed to the company vision and goals will be a difficult challenge.

What do you plan to do to change HR for the better?

Make HR the friend of employees. By getting to know staff at all levels, and understanding their day-to-day working lives, HR professionals can prove that their purpose is to look after employees first and foremost.

Overall, by being aware of issues before they start affecting the workplace it’s possible to negate a significant amount of problems and lower absenteeism due to these problems. And, as an extra benefit, there’s more time for strategic thinking rather than firefighting.

Sam Franklin is human resources manager at Timbersource

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