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“Can you reach beyond conventional thinking?” challenges Matt Erhard, evaluating the human resources landscape of 2021. “That’s the most serious need right now. What we think of as ‘traditional’ human resource skills and functions are still crucial, but the past year has shown us that there’s a lot more at stake in creating a truly dynamic, sustainable HR program.”
At Summit Search Group, Matt connects the best and brightest talent in human resources with great opportunities and leading employers across Canada. We caught up with him to get the latest on hiring in human resources, how the Covid-19 pandemic has shaped HR’s path forward, and what we can anticipate in the months ahead.
Human Resources and Hiring Through Covid-19
When a worldwide health crisis turned workplaces upside-down in 2020, human resources professionals found themselves at the heart of it all. Essential leadership, rapid-fire strategic changes, and even fundamental employee health and safety fell squarely on their shoulders.
“The global pandemic certainly threw business a curve ball in recent years,” Matt notes. “The HR profession saw a substantial increase in demands and importance, as HR leaders became integral in navigating the constant, sometimes daily, changes in their workplaces. Human resources teams were often employed to take a lead on many aspects that impacted every employee in the midst of the pandemic, with a paramount goal of ensuring the safety of the workplace and staff as a whole. Developing new strategies, policies and procedures, and building new ways of recruiting, interviewing, and onboarding in real time — it was all a part of the job.”
As the world eases into a summertime (hopefully!) with eased restrictions, more vaccinations, and the normalcy so many have been craving, it’s no surprise that many of the adaptations crafted by HR professionals over the last year appear to be sticking around.
“These aren’t temporary fixes — we’re talking about lasting changes that we will see continuing beyond the pandemic in years to come,” says Matt. “Employers needed and will need HR managers who have rich skills in flexibility, proactive planning, and exceptional attention to detail. This talent was and will continue to be critical to ensure business operations run smoothly, staff feels safe, and teams follow the latest healthcare directives.”
Exceptional Human Resources Candidates in 2021
While technical HR skill has always been at the heart of successful companies, Matt is sure to remind us of just how important the “human” element of the work really can be.
“Regardless of the industry or company, the human skills, the human capabilities to lead, empathize, care for people, and inspire great teams — these are the critical elements of great talent. These are the people who stand out in many leadership positions,” he points out. “Through this past year, more than ever, we’ve found there’s an increased focus on human skills, which contributes to the overall sustainability of a business.”
Of course, that’s not all. As part of building new strategies and human resources systems, teams have found technology and tech skills also taking center stage in the needs of businesses both big and small.
“Technology now plays a large part in HR,” Matt adds. “HR leaders need to be on top of using technology in a significant way, and when we recruit HR professionals, this is consistently one of the key skills needed to thrive in today’s world.”
Human Resources Talent and Building Tomorrow’s Teams
With all of these changes, the expectations for HR Managers have evolved, as well. Companies and clients are seeking talent who can go beyond what we normally might think of as “traditional” human resources.
“The standard HR functions are important, without a doubt,” Matt specifies. “After all, the purpose of any human resources department is always about dealing with people in an organization first and foremost. But the work landscape has changed; there are remote workers, freelancers, work-at-home employees, and a flexible workforce. In order to manage such a diverse workforce, and to do it well, we need managers who aren’t afraid to go beyond conventional thinking.”
The challenge of crafting a team of people united by well-designed, carefully devised strategies is a tall enough order — but now, these employees may never be in the same room together.
“Companies need HR leaders who embrace these changes, understand the culture, commit to employee satisfaction and are ultimately ready to build a workplace that is unlike anything we’ve seen in the past,” he adds. “It’s also important to remember that technology and digital tools have allowed us to get to this point, and keeping HR abreast of the latest technologies is crucial to obtaining the results we want.”
At the end of the day, Matt’s most important quality in building your HR team is simple: do you really, truly like people?
“Diversity and inclusion are important to all of us. Workplace culture is critical, and a strong ability for talent to onboard and welcome the differences of unique people and employees into your company is key to everyone’s success. HR comes down, most simply, to people. Are you passionate about people? Those human skills, and that passion, make all the difference.”
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Industry Insiders: Matt Erhard on Recruitment in Human Resources
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