In today’s world, businesses are becoming more aware that their employees are just as important to their prospects as their customers. “By helping companies to future-proof the organisation, HR professionals help lead business transformation from a people perspective, making the right hires into the HR function even more critical,” explains Michael Page’s Cedric Nabor.

In this article Michael Page presents six trends for the Belgium HR professionals over the next three years – the drivers and candidate ‘hacks’ that can help transform your potential into tomorrow’s must-have talent.

Drivers of change in HR

While key roles for HR Business Partner, Talent Management & Organisation Development Specialist grace many of today’s job listings, what should HR professionals look for if they want to shape their industry?

With gamification to incentivise employees on the rise and video growing employee engagement, HR will be at the centre of organisational change for years to come.

  1. Eye the most in-demand HR skillsets
  2. Understand the commitment to training
  3. Invest in the change appetite and vision of the leaders
  4. Explore the full range of HR opportunities
  5. Does the company invest in its people?
  6. Be a contract problem-solver 

Eye the most in-demand HR skillsets

Data and technology HR roles are now in hot demand – particularly ones that harness value data sets and new people-centred organisational technologies, to give their company a critical market edge. You should articulate the transferable skills you’ve acquired to date – and then explore the prospects for further training and development in your next role.

What are the most in-demand skillsets for these roles? As Michael Page’s Cedric Nabor explains: “At Michael Page Belgium we do have new profiles, HR Information System professionals, who are in direct contact with the HR directors, helping them to anticipate future changes within the workforce, so can adjust their HR strategy accordingly. Their job is, for example, to interpret all the available data, and predict if there is going to a shortage of a certain type of skills in the upcoming years. This kind of professionals usually have to have an analytical and strategic mindset.”

Understand the commitment to training

As Philip Otley, Partner in The Experience Centre for PwC Digital Services told PageGroup, preparing for life-long education is increasingly part of the job-seeking process, particularly in HR. “Universities and educational institutions are going down the path of looking at micro-credentialing – looking at student-based education, in terms of business people defining their own ongoing education path through life,” he says.

This means employees being supported through their training with in-class and experience-based projects on the job. As such, HR leaders with a track record of building a learning culture will be at a premium. As Cedric Nabor from Michael Page notes, “The urgency of continuous - learning, and more in-job training, will force traditional education to ensure tomorrow’s talent is prepared and ready for work – whether they are 24 or 44 years of age.

“At the same time HR professionals themselves need to keep up to date with the latest developments in the HR sector. In the past an HR professional was mainly assigned to payrolling, whereas now they became a business partner, involved in talent management, and internal mobility. On top of that they need to keep up date with the legislation that the government is constantly adjusting,” Cedric Nabor adds.

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Invest in the change appetite and vision of the leaders

What is the best advice for HR professionals looking to assess the merits of their future employers? “That answer is simple for me – the leadership,” notes Catherine Ng, Engagement Practice Leader at Aon. “Depending on where the role is in the company, ideally as a candidate you’d want to interview the CEO,” she adds.

Given this is not always possible, understanding the leadership philosophies of the company becomes key – especially how these relate to people. “This involves building the right programmes, strategies and HR teams to improve the working experience,” says Michael Page’s Cedric Nabor. “Organisations with a strong focus on training, improved workspaces, greater reward systems and a focus on integrating change, will in turn excel in their company performance,” he adds

Explore the full range of HR opportunities

As Cedric Nabor of Michael Page notes, there has probably never been such an exciting time to pursue an HR career: “It’s a broader industry than it used to be, and much more commercial than before.

“For me, the beauty of it is how it’s broadened: from hiring and talent acquisition, to how you develop people, to having a specialist-generalist angle. Now we see everyone from front-facing business partners driving much more value than those handling the paperwork, filing, payroll and work permits,” he notes.

“That´s why nowadays you need to have an analytical and financial mindset, if you want to pursue a career in HR,” add Cedric Nabor. “I recently interviewed a candidate who had an IT background and evolved into an HR position later on in his career.  Provided they have the right soft skills, these kind of HR professionals are in high demand, because they have the technical and analytical mind set employers are looking for.”

Does the company invest in its people?

The reality of the future workplace is that many roles will be disrupted by automation, but also that good companies will invest in talent. As Michael Page’s Cedric Nabor notes, a lack of investment in talent could be a likely sign of future trouble.

“Protecting people and not jobs is not just a moral imperative, it’s commercially essential as well,” he notes. “Any company that aims to bypass its community’s interests and the fundamentals of culture, ethics or morality, surely won’t be in business too long.” Ultimately, choose a company that has truly invested in moving talent along this path.

Be a contract problem-solver

In HR in Belgium, specialist contract roles are being created to fill short-term gaps. The sector has projects around diversity and talent management, often 6-12 months in length. “The benefit for the candidates that you can work with many different companies in short period of time, which allows you to develop new skills much quicker than you would in a permanent position,” explains Michael Page’s Cedric Nabor. “Of course, you need to have to have mind set to enjoy rapidly changing employers”

Recent HR contract roles have included payroll, talent acquisition, learning and development projects, HR analyst and HR reporting projects