What major changes have taken place in HR during the course of your career?
Recruitment, a large part of my career to date, has changed dramatically with new technology. Many large employers have in-house teams carrying out recruitment, thus cutting out agencies and consultants. Advertising is done online rather than through newspapers, and more candidates are being trained in how to get around the gatekeepers. Still, organisations of all kinds seem to have become more ruthless with people. Technology would allow them, at little cost, to at least acknowledge an application and then reject it quickly, rather than give applicants no response at all.
Titles have altered and will go on changing. We’ve gone from personnel to HR to people and culture. What’s next?
We have more rules and regulations to comply with (is it a good thing?) and the workforce has aged and we’re told that, in a few years, there won’t be enough people working to pay for us oldies. And now we don’t just compete with local companies. Competition can come from anywhere in the world.
What do you consider your greatest career achievements?
I was in the right place at the right time, working with a great group of contributing people, when it became clear that we needed a national organisation that spoke with one voice, rather than a federation of state and territory organisations. And so AHRI was born about 23 years ago.
I’m also proud of the fact that the recruitment company I started in 1981, with my mate Geoff Shaw, has continued to this day.
Are organisations harnessing the talents of the ageing workforce, and if not, what should they be doing?
No, they’re doing poorly, with a few exceptions. There’s a misconception that older workers can’t communicate across generations, but it’s nowhere near as bad as is reported. Unfortunately, perception equals reality for a lot of people. HR can and should hang on to its older workers by communicating with them about what they have done and how valuable it is to have them. ‘Accentuate the positive’ it used to be called.
What do you think AHRI’s new HR certification course will do for the profession?
The time is right for a post-nominal that signifies to business the professionalism of the HR person they are employing and shows their career commitment. We discussed this many years ago, but now, hopefully, the HR profession will take it up and take pride in it.
This article is an edited version. The full article was first published in the June 2015 issue of HRMonthly magazine as ‘Meet … Jim Bailey’. AHRI members receive HRMonthly 11 times per year as part of their membership. Find out more about AHRI membership here.