The 4 Critical Questions HR Really Needs to be Asking

Intuit’s Fast Tack blog did a great job summarizing trends and predictions for 2013 based on PwC Saratoga’s 2012/2013 US Human Capital Effectiveness Report and The Herman Group’s predictions.

Specifically, what jumped out at me was the storyline around productivity and turnover.

What’s coming in 2013? Trends show undeniably:

  • Declining productivity;
  • Increasing voluntary turnover (first time in six years);
  • Increasing high-performer turnover (two years in a row).

What’s being predicted for 2013?

  • More hiring, but trained/experienced workers are hard to find;
  • More spending on training and workforce development;
  • High turnover.

What’s the storyline?

Employees are fed up with covering the work of three positions. They simply can’t keep up any more and are pushing back, either by leaving entirely or “quitting but forgetting to tell you” (declining productivity).

Employers know they need to hire to backfill positions lost during the recession (as well as replace those leaving), but they can’t find people who are qualified to do the work. Sure, it’s easier for the likes of GE to train employees for the new workplace reality, but it’s not as realistic for small and medium-sized businesses.

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The REAL questions leaders should be asking in 2013 are:

  1. Utilization: Are we properly utilizing the people we have today? Have we returned people to appropriate job roles/functions with appropriate expectations as we pull out of the recession (and sit on massive cash reserves)?
  2.  Training: Are we offering training programs (pre- and post-hire) to create the skilled workforce we need? Have we developed a detailed understanding of what our critical-to-hire roles require and incorporating these needs into training?
  3. Recruiting: Are we recruiting appropriately for the workforce actually available versus the ideal employee that is difficult if not impossible to find? Are we willing to hire for cultural fit, aptitude and potential, and then train for needed skills? How can we shift thinking to align with this goal?
  4. Recognition: Are we encouraging employees to maintain needed productivity even as we work to stabilize workloads? Are we recognizing and rewarding employees for both what they are accomplish as how they are doing it? Critically, are we creating loyalty among our workforce by helping employees see the meaning and value of their work within the bigger picture.

What trends do you see in HR? What are your predictions among your workforce in 2013? What are you planning in your own career?

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their company culture. As the Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek helps clients — including some of world’s most admired companies such as Proctor and Gamble, Intuit, KPMG, and Thomson Reuters — leverage recognition strategies and best practices to better manage company culture, elevate employee engagement, increase retention, and improve the bottom line. He's also a renowned speaker and co-author of Winning with a Culture of Recognition. Contact him at


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