HR to play a more strategic role in improving business performance: Mercer

Published March 31st, 2010 - 01:51 GMT
Human resources professionals across the GCC have been urged to strengthen their role and relevance to support businesses recovering from the recent economic turmoil.
The message from the global HR consulting firm, Mercer, came during a key HR conference that ended in Bahrain today, which was attended by close to 500 delegates from across the region.
Gilles Beneplanc, who heads Mercer’s operations in Europe and Middle East, told the conference that talent management, employee engagement and workforce diversity were dominant issues across the region.
Mr. Beneplanc said that the economic circumstance required a strengthened role for HR as an increasingly visible and business literate professional who could bridge the needs of people   and the business.
The theme was supported by Cameron Hannah who heads the Middle East operation during a debate on HR’s role and relevance in an organizational context. 
Over three days the conference covered a range of topics aimed at reinforcing HRs strategic role in business and organizational performance.
A number of senior Mercer figures helped lead discussions on a range of key HR issues including leadership effectiveness, talent mobility, and use of workforce analytics to measure the effectiveness of compensation practices.
US-based partners Jay Doherty and Haig Nalbantian led conference discussion on the use of workforce analytics to more accurately track and predict employee trends and behaviors to help employers target on areas that bring greatest business value. Mr. Nalbantian said, “Some of the large organizations in the Gulf have the resources and the unique opportunity to tap the asset management approach to human capital to strengthen their workforces and performance. It is encouraging from the conference to see that many organizations have the mindset to seize the opportunity”. Jay Doherty said that it is encouraging to see the participating organizations bringing a more disciplined approach to managing and measuring careers  This is critical when we look at the challenges of a young workforce in the GCC even a few companies that are truly innovating how to measure the impact of their HR polices and practices that other regions could learn from.
Mercer’s leadership expert, Dr Brendan McCann, told the conference that the new generation CEO across the GCC is being asked to deal with far broader and more complex organizational challenges than ever before. “This requires a new set of skills and competencies that can only come from careful selection, sustained development support and a new range of leadership styles to match the changing circumstances”, he said. 
Senior Mercer partner, Jim Matthewman, introduced new research on the notion of the “global nomad” to support the view that organizations - especially those expanding regionally and internationally - need to apply talent management strategies and policies far different than traditional practice.
Mr. Hannah said that the issues and trends surfaced during the conference would help to define the solutions that HR and business leaders need to adopt as they seek to align their business and people strategies across the Middle East.

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