Clients are going crazy for HR wizards

  • Post published:01/09/2011
  • Reading time:6 mins read

What is going on in the world of HR? Clients are queuing up outside my door screaming for help to find real talented HR candidates. They are looking for people who combine the best of skills in HR management with the latest HR and organisational development.

HRM and HRD are for some just buzzwords which they use to inflate the trivial to importance and stature. It’s now used pretentiously, insincerely and inappropriately by individuals with little understanding of its actual meaning who are most interested in impressing others by making their discourse sound more esoteric, obscure, and technical than it otherwise would be. Oh well. Did anyone say lip service?

But here’s the bad news. The overwhelming demand for HRD talent clearly outstrips the supply. Thailand is simply not producing and graduating enough HR development people. Take Chulalongkorn University as an example. HRD is not in the faculty but available only at Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration as an additional course. Sasin offers a seven-month graduate diploma program and an 18-month Master of Science Degree program in HRD. The Master degree programme became available less than ten years ago. Today, Sasin graduates some 15 students a year with the diploma and only 3-8 people with the Master Degree.In reality we are talking about a missing generation here. On one hand, we have Gen X (over 35 years of age) who has the years of experience in HR but with no theory of HRD and OD, because the curriculum was non existent when they left university. Then there is Gen Y (below 35 years of age) who brings the theory but not yet the ten years of work experience. I reckon it will take another ten years or so before we see an abundance of HR talent who graduated with a degree in HR Development and also now has real life and work experience. Hence the “missing generation”.

There is no doubt in my mind why the demand for really pro HR talent has surged. International companies can see in other countries, where they operate, how top HR managers and directors work as real business partners to the Managing Director. These companies realise how much more value are coming from the HR desks nowadays. Thailand should be no different, right?

But you tell me why so few HR experts do not take more pride in their profession? Why is it that most candidates I meet at managerial level have not continued their interest in HR and continued to study, reading books, following the trends in Europe and USA? Let me give you a few examples of the sorry state of affairs in this functional area.

Some ten years ago the Labour Protection Act was overhauled significantly. Since then several ministerial regulations have also been issued and then two years ago another major revision took place.

So let’s get to the first bad news of the day. My stats show that 90% of the candidates I meet for Director Human Resources or HR Manager jobs, do not know the correct answers to the most basic of basic labour law questions.

Now check yourself; here’s the first HR question: What does the labour law say about probation period? The second question: If you wish to terminate an employee’s employment, what advance notice must you give according to the labour law? The third question: If the person you wish to terminate is still in the probation period, what is the advance notice?

The correct answers are at the end of the story. Now, let me explain why I pay so much attention to how candidates handle these questions. And I don’t care and I don’t buy that you have a subordinate in charge of these things. Here is why.

Admitted, there are many complicated rules and regulations in the labour law and it’s difficult to remember every single detail. Fair enough. But on the other hand, Managing Directors expect that HR can provide immediate advice on the most basic principles regarding probation and how to fire people with proper notice. But to me, not knowing the correct answers to the questions say so much more about the individual. To me is shows complete lack of interest in the HR profession. It’s neglecting duties, it’s taking a laid back approach and not give a darn about being up-to-date. This is about attitude and ambitions.

Helloooo? Where have you been the last 10 years?

Answer to HR question 1: The Labour Protection Act has for over 10 years not mentioned anything about probation period. There is no requirement by law and it’s at the employer’s discretion to have one or not. Severance payment is compensation to employees whose service are terminated and has nothing to do with probation.

Answer to HR question 2: Section 17 paragraph of the law states that the employer or the employee can terminate employment by notifying the other party on or prior to wage payment, for the termination to take effect at the day of the next wage payment.

Answer to HR question 3: There is no difference in termination notice as probationary period is also considered a part of the employment contract. Notice to terminate is always the same no matter how long the employee has been employed.


Tom Sorensen

Tom Sorensen is an executive search veteran with over 25 years of experience recruiting in Asia, Europe, and Africa. He has worked in executive search in Thailand since 2003 and is recognized as one of the country’s top recruiters and most profiled headhunters.