No person ever steps in the same river twice. That’s not just because the river is not the same river, but also because the person is not the same person. This celebrated observation is attributed to the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus.
When AHRI conducted a member survey last year that resulted in a discussion paper titled ‘What is Good HR?’, we were conscious that it was being conducted against a backdrop of rapid developments in technology and communication that have exposed Australian enterprises as never before to competitive pressures and uncertainties on a global scale.
In addition, we were mindful that many Australian businesses are coming to terms with a marked decline in consumer confidence, are experiencing decreasing demand and lower prices for commodities, and are coping with heightened security tensions here and abroad. We were also seeing Australian businesses struggling to compete globally in the battle to source and retain the talent that makes our organisations agile and competitive.
All this confirmed that the rules of engagement are not what they were. What worked before will not work in the present, much less in the immediate future. The river is not the same river and the HR practitioner of yesteryear is not the same person who practises today. To take but one example, during the 1980s three out of 10 HR practitioners were female; now seven out of 10 are female – a gender reversal within just three decades.
With those thoughts in the forefront of our minds, over the past year the AHRI board and council of state presidents have been working with my management team to position the institute to more vigorously bolster the HR profession by strengthening its standing and influence.
We face a continuing expectation that budgets will be tight and that many businesses will not be able or willing to resist the pressure to contribute to an already increasing unemployment rate through instigating redundancy exercises.
In that eventuality, HR practitioners with influence will be expected to take a leading role in advocating credible solutions. Alternatively, HR will wear the usual ignominy of being seen as the architects and administrators of decisions that may not be of HR’s making.
To better place AHRI to assist in positioning the profession in these shifting times, we have restructured the institute in such a way as to establish five foundations or pillars that support you, the contemporary HR practitioner, by championing and defending sound professional practice (see pillars diagram here):
- PILLAR 1 will see an overhaul of our professional recognition standards and professional certification to focus on tailoring member support to match your different career stages and employer expectations.
- PILLAR 2 is about engaging you, our members, in a vibrant HR community by enabling interaction with peers through communication media aligned to your individual requirements.
- PILLAR 3 is about how we can continue to build AHRI’s capability to influence and advance the professional standing of the profession through more robust research, intellectual leadership, and judicious advocacy.
- PILLAR 4 is about making sure that you see AHRI as the place to go for services, tools and personal connections.
- PILLAR 5 is about the enablers that ensure AHRI’s infrastructure and governance framework facilitates strong member engagement and customer service.
These are the pillars against which you can hold AHRI accountable in the future. If they work for us, they will work for you.
You can view AHRI’s 5 pillars and related articles on the website.
This article is an edited version. The full article was first published in the February 2015 issue of HRMonthly magazine as ‘Holding AHRI accountable’. AHRI members receive HRMonthly 11 times per year as part of their membership. Find out more about AHRI membership here.