How the HR segmentation trend continues to grow

Amanda Woodard


written on April 13, 2016

Segmentation is a growing theme in HR. While most HR business partners work permanently, a growing number of senior HR appointments are contractual or temporary. The latest quarterly report of recruitment specialist Hays shows that most of these senior contractual positions are in strategic, organisational development or change management positions.

HR business partnerships are becoming increasingly relevant to organisations wanting to promote greater internal collaboration. Professionals with great communication skills and good business acumen, who can also develop people strategies aligned to business objectives, are in high demand. 

At all other levels of HR, there’s a mix of permanent and temporary or contract roles, with contractual roles preferred for recruitment and entry-level positions.  

Segmentation in HR is also apparent in the way roles are becoming more defined. For example, there is an increasing demand for HR professionals with generalist experience who can work on generating staff engagement and other tasks, freeing up more senior practitioners to focus on strategy, planning and large change management projects.

Demand is growing for HR specialists such as employee relations managers and industrial relations specialists who can represent the business and engage with workers and stakeholders in best practice. Negotiating with staff and employee groups is a specialist skill, and in the complex world of compliance even junior HR professionals are expected to have a thorough understanding of the Fair Work Act and investigations.

Despite high levels of unemployment or underemployment among young people, there is still quite a strong market for junior or entry-level HR candidates. But competition is fierce and junior HR professionals are required to have, in order of importance, great communication skills, emotional intelligence, strong attention to detail, and practical ability in Excel and HR systems.

Learning and development is another key area of segmentation and expansion. HR professionals who have experience in establishing L&D practices within an organisation are particularly sought after.

Turning to the public sector, the large number of change and transformation projects is fuelling demand for HR contractors with relevant systems knowledge, as well as entry-level HR candidates with some project experience.

Always with an eye on cost-cutting, federal government departments are taking a more strategic approach to streamline their processes, cut paperwork and become more efficient and effective. Hays says that government employers place as much importance on cultural fit as they do on skills and experience. Asking candidates to submit a one-page expression of interest rather than the traditional selection criteria document is a big part of the assessment process.

Finally, workforce analytics remains an important consideration for businesses, and candidates who are masters in this field remain in short supply. Employers are looking to understand and work better with the data generated by their HR systems, and so are seeking HR candidates with an analytical brain or a financial background. Jobs such as ‘enterprise business analysts’ are enjoying a spike in demand both on a permanent and interim basis to help identify actionable strategies related to workplace planning.

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