Flexibility key to thriving during economic uncertainty
HR professionals must create more flexible workforces to meet the demands posed by economic uncertainty and other emerging trends, says Pacific Brands Workwear Group general manager Holly Kramer.
Economic uncertaintyEmployers should shorten their planning cycle and do more scenario planning in order to adapt to the uncertainty of the economy, Kramer told HR Daily.
"It's very hard for anyone to predict where the economy is going to go in the next few years [and] I think this creates a lot of challenges for employers," she says.
Employers may find it difficult to do long-term planning and Kramer concedes it is hard to make investments in an economy that's so uncertain.
"I think, more than ever, businesses need to be flexible, need to be nimble and need to be able to constantly adjust as the economy ebbs and flows," she says.
"Businesses need to create as much flexibility as they can... because [they] need to... be able to react and if things start picking up [they] want to be able to quickly respond to that."
Global marketplaceIn a marketplace where the competition has become global, Kramer believes employers need to work hard to innovate and differentiate themselves.
"It's not just enough to get the cheapest price, because everyone's chasing the cheapest price and going to the same sources and customers are also very cautious with their disposable income because of economic uncertainty," she says.
"For businesses to thrive, they need to have a truly innovative and differentiated value proposition."
Employers should be aware of global trends and global markets, Kramer says, and reflect these in terms of the people they employ.
"They need to look to find people who have experience in different markets... [and] make sure they are hiring people who can operate in a global market," she says.
Further, employers should create customer experiences that are hard to replicate.
"I think that puts more pressure on businesses to compete in that global marketplace but by the same token it also creates opportunity," she says.
Internet "disruptions"Employers should embrace the internet and social media and not be afraid of them, Kramer says.
She adds that certain industries, like media and retail, have been transformed almost completely through the use of these trends.
"Retail [has] to move into a multi-channel environment because people just don't want to go into a store alone, they want the flexibility of accessing online and physical channels," she says.
"It's really pushing businesses to respond, and respond very quickly."
Employers should be very mindful of ensuring they have people in their organisations who understand online and social media trends, Kramer says.
"I think the younger generation who was brought up in social media is probably, in many cases, best able to look for the opportunities and manage them within businesses," she says.
"Businesses need to make sure their practices cater towards this younger generation of people so they can attract them and retain them."
War for [the right] talentAs employers are transforming, they are now "desperately looking for the very best people to help them deal with these trends", Kramer says.
Employers should focus on hiring people who are innovative, flexible and willing to take risks, she says.
"Companies are not realising that they have to review their practices because I think particularly [the] younger generation of workers are more demanding in terms of flexibility, work environment [and] provision of technology," she says.
Individuals can also take advantage of these workplace trends, Kramer notes, by building up their networks and core business skills in relation to understanding customers, driving innovation and financial acumen.
"Those kinds of skills are very transferable across industries and I think that opens up opportunities for people," she says.
Also on the panel, Labor Senator Claire Moore says employers should ensure their workplaces are "not just what historically has been a workplace".
"[Employers] have to evolve and I think the future of work will be people understanding what the needs of their work [are]… and then working effectively within those constraints to come up with a way that people can work best," she says.