The role of HR is changing as a result of many influences. These include: globalisation resulting in increased competition; a change from a large manufacturing base in the UK to service-related industries such as finance; demographic trends evidenced by falling birth rates and extended life expectancy. These trends affect the labour market and have resulted in skill shortages in specific areas. The HR practitioner needs to understand the impact of these factors on their organisation.
In considering key skills, much will depend on the functionality of HR in the particular organisation. The function may deliver a mainly transactional service or may have moved towards the strategic business partner role, but certain factors will remain the same regardless of model of delivery. In many organisations the administrative function of HR has already been outsourced, for example payroll and pension administration.
There can be confusion about the role of HR as it moves from one model to another, and HR practitioners can find that they are still heavily involved in the operational role, handling grievances and discipline while new demands are made of them. The expectations of the service and individuals need to be clearly articulated and managers need to be clear about their role in managing people.