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HR set to gain confidence as a strategic business partner in 2016

The Federal Government’s push for economic development, shifting labour markets and more specialisation continue to be the biggest drivers behind industry boom or bust, according to new research from global recruitment consultancy Robert Walters. What’s more, the data points to a 2016 where more businesses look beyond technical capability to source talent.

It’s been a bumpy road for the commodities and natural resource sectors, with BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and more cutting employee numbers by the hundreds. By comparison, the construction sector is expanding thanks in part to more public and private investment in infrastructure, transportation and urban development.

This year is shaping up to be one of growth and changing roles for HR. Senior professionals increasingly have a place at the table as more executives see the value of talent management and employee engagement to business strategy. Demand is also high for professionals who can collect, analyse and translate data that gives businesses a strategic and competitive advantage. People metrics will continue to be a factor as more companies look to develop internal talent in the coming year. This means more demand for learning and training consultants, change management specialists, and HR professionals who understand and value employee engagement and retention.

Speaking of, the data also shed some light on the age-old question: what makes employees stay in a job? It seems the days when businesses could just throw money at employees to counteract long hours, stressful work environments or poor engagement levels are gone. Now, more workers want career development opportunities and work-life balance, and if their current workplace doesn’t offer it, they aren’t afraid to look elsewhere: 57 per cent of Australian professionals will look for greater career progression in the next 12 months, and 40 per cent of jobseekers would turn down a role if it did not meet their flexible work requirements.

Perhaps this is for the best, though, as the HR industry won’t see any spikes in earnings, at least not in the near future. Professionals can expect a salary bump of, on average, only 1.5 per cent. Industry specialists are expected to fare better, though, especially in roles or industries experiencing skill shortages. That being said, 71 per cent of Australians expect a salary increase in the coming year, and 45 per cent expect to receive a bonus. Money still talks, just not as loudly.

Millennials have come of age, and with them comes the focus on a digital and tech-savvy workforce. A quickly evolving cyber landscape requires high levels of business agility, so expect to see more emphasis on data analytics, IT development projects and cyber security. Not to be outdone, more baby boomers planning for retirement means there are increased opportunities in financial planning, superannuation and wealth management. Financial services are as important as ever, and risk and compliance professionals are in high-demand to match global banking trends.

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