“Whenever I’m interested in something, I know the timing’s off, because I’m always interested in the right thing at the wrong time. I should just be getting interested after I’m not interested anymore.”
— Andy Warhol
Trends and Fashions
Fashions and fads seem pervasive across many fields of human endeavour, not just in the annals of art movements. Consider popular diets, baby names, lengths of hem lines, fidget spinners, the advent of unicorn investing — even a profoundly serious pursuit like science is apparently not immune to their capricious influences.
At a time where there is virtually a daily public conference discussing the future of work, we believe it’s equally important for public sector leaders and managers to be aware of the real trends and substantive changes impacting the world of work for the nearly two million people now employed across all levels of government in Australia.
It is here that there are particular dangers for human resources, a field that can be particularly prone to faddishness. The challenge for public sector leaders and human resource practitioners is to discern a passing fad from an emergent, disruptive trend, possibly profoundly impacting the nature of work itself. Getting it wrong when making large scale people planning, policy or purchasing decisions has major social and economic consequences and impacts directly on staff attraction, selection, development and retention.
We need to ensure these conversations are getting us closer to what a partner of one of the big four accounting firms (or is that now advertising firms?) told me is the holy grail of management consulting — unlocking employee ‘discretionary effort’. I would argue that ‘employee engagement’ is a more inclusive label to describe what most organisations should be striving towards — but that’s for a future post.
People and Capability
At The Mandarin, we see the human resources field as part of a larger domain we’re calling People and Capability. One reason for this is because we will be exploring issues that go beyond matters that might traditionally be handled by people with a human resources title or who are located in that part of an agency. These issues might include those impacting on entire groups of professionals (i.e. accountants, lawyers and engineers) that work within or provide services to government. We also see matters relating to health insurance, superannuation and salary packaging as important issues for all people working in the public sector.
Macro themes like the future of work, how new technology may disrupt entire operations within government and how predictive analytics platforms might provide valuable insights to government decision makers will definitely be explored. Insights from fields as diverse as air traffic control, anthropology, the history of economics, philosophy and psychology might also be mined where relevant.
That’s not to say we won’t be researching and investigating a range of topics you’ll immediately recognise as familiar to human resources. Enterprise bargaining, employment law, performance management and professional standards will all feature as will issues pertaining to leadership, diversity, learning and development and wellness at work.
Even recruitment related topics will be regularly discussed. Although often considered a known quantity, servicing governments through discrete panel arrangements, niche businesses have very recently emerged to do things like automate reference checking, provide mobile-only help to on-board staff and act as recruitment intermediaries.
We are very interested in what governments across the country are doing with their workforces and leaders to lift performance and to adapt to the needs of modern citizens. We encourage you to send us any blogs, articles and videos that could be useful case studies for your fellow people and capability colleagues. Send these to us here and we would love to run them in the new section.
There are many organisations that support government agencies in the people and capability arena, and we look forward to collaborating with this large ecosystem and working with providers as they engage with agencies and departments across the country.
Please reach out to me if you wish to have a discussion.
James Judge, Associate Publisher, People and Capability
Email: [email protected]