Most of us have had an ultrasound, or know someone who has. While this technology was first developed in the 1940s, it took another 60 years before the effect on humans was assessed to be safe enough for the extensive rollout of relatively inexpensive commercial instruments that we see today. These snappy little medical machines are available within most Australian suburbs and a stone’s throw from the local GP clinic. When needed, they can be used to give us quick and insightful identification of damaged tissues or more harmful lesions, and at fairly reasonable cost. More power to the new millennium.
Technology transforming the profession
The ultrasound equivalent of powerful, but much less expensive, research techniques and systems are having their impact on the HR trade today. These research applications are now widely accessible, and are being used to great effect by much smaller entities within our profession.
During the past few years at AHRI, I have seen many signs of the increasing sophistication among SMEs and academic researchers in HR. Technology is a great enabler of this trend, which is increasing the professionalism and value of HR in its workforces and across industry generally. Two excellent examples came to light during the last month.
The Next Step is a leading recruitment firm in Australia today, and will be well known to most AHRI members. In 2010 its executive team under Craig Mason had an idea – it wanted to know more about what Australian and New Zealand HR practitioners were thinking, so it constructed and published its HR Viewpoint survey to considerable acclaim.
Not content to stop there, by this year Craig and his team had forged a similar global research alliance with two other international firms, and repeated the survey across 3000 HR professionals in Oceania, Asia and UK/Europe.
So what can we learn from this new set of results?
We are professionalising – 50 per cent of respondents are members of professional associations. We are on the move — 61 per cent have worked for their employer for two years or fewer, and 42 per cent have worked in another country.
We are well qualified – nearly 90 per cent have a tertiary qualification, and half are postgraduates. We are working harder – 75 per cent now work more than 40 hours a week – up from 64 per cent. Gender equity for HR means getting more males involved as 70 per cent of the profession is female. And these results only take you up to page five of a 20-page report. It’s recommended reading for all HR ultrasound buffs.
The second case comes from Edith Cowan University (ECU) in the West. AHRI has had an objective to increase the professional calibre of HR, and our professional life cycle begins with our universities and tertiary institutes. But researchers have often had difficulty getting to leading HR thinkers and business professionals.
Two professors at ECU, Helen Sitlington (FCPHR), who is also an AHRI Western Australian councillor, and Alan Coetzer decided they needed to reshape their strategic HRM course content. They combined use of the very long-standing Delphi technique with the more modern, redoubtable, and very inquisitive survey monkey. Helen and Alan then set up a three-stage Delphi questionnaire to ask 37 academic and professional leaders in HR about the core knowledge and skill areas for the HR profession.
Three survey rounds of 10 minutes each isn’t too hard to find time for, which I did. They held the interest of 35 of 37 participants all the way through. I was impressed with their initial, but brief, email pitch. The results were fascinating and as it’s their intellectual property, I won’t summarise what they will later publish. But it is also sure to be on my recommended HR reading list.
Great minds, excellent data, inspired techniques and insightful conclusions, the HR profession can do a lot with that, and I am sure it will.