Deloitte Report: 2 Key Focus Areas for HR in the Year Ahead

Human resources departments must take these two actions to thrive in a world where disruption is the norm, not just for their own teams but across their companies, according to Deloitte’s “2020 Global Human Capital Trends” report.

How—and where—human resources (HR) professionals do their jobs will undergo radical change in the coming year. That’s one of the key findings in Deloitte’s “2020 Global Human Capital Trends” report, which surveyed 9,000 business and HR leaders in 119 countries. 

Here’s a closer look at two actions HR departments must take to thrive in a world where disruption is the norm, not just for their own teams but across their companies, according to the report.

Expand HR’s Focus and Influence 

HR can no longer limit itself to traditional roles and boundaries, and must expand its focus to include the company’s complete ecosystem and its ability to adapt to the changing nature of work. Yet while 75% of respondents indicate it’s important to evolve the role of HR over the next 12 to 18 months, only 11 percent are “very ready” to make those changes.

So, what can HR do to achieve a wider scope and influence? Respondents think these four points are the most important: 

  • Adopt new capabilities to create an enterprise built for the digital age (47%).
  • Encourage more agile and team-based work through a new HR organizational design (45%).
  • Automate HR activities to streamline and simplify the experience (38%).
  • Elevate the stature of HR leaders by expanding their focus and influence (24%).

Belonging, well-being, and worker reskilling are also important areas of focus for HR leaders when considering how they’ll help their companies adapt to the changing nature of work. The notion of belonging is so vital to business performance that 63% of respondents recognize the need to align people with organizational objectives. 

“Organizations need to optimize the power of individuals by connecting them with each other through their purpose at work. This is the inevitable evolution of belonging—from comfort to connection, and then finally to contribution,” says Greg Pryor, senior vice president, people and performance evangelist at Workday. “To derive real value from their work and their workplace, people should be able to see how what they do every day impacts the business.”

The majority of respondents think it’s important to evolve the role of HR over the next 12 to 18 months, but only 11% are “very ready” to make those changes.

Ask New Questions to Get Better Results

With the future more uncertain than ever, organizations need to take decisive action to govern workforce strategies. But this isn’t possible without the ability to access and analyze the right data. Ninety-seven percent of respondents say they need more information on some aspect of their workforce—and these three questions are the most commonly asked: 

  • How ready is the existing workforce to meet new demands?
  • What is the availability of additional talent sources?
  • How prepared is the leadership to meet the challenge of artificial intelligence (AI) and the workforce?

This isn’t just an HR issue. Fifty-three percent say management’s interest in workforce information has increased in the past 18 months, but many are hampered by their technology’s limitations. Fifty-two percent say they lack the right systems to produce the insights necessary to understand their workforce needs and trends, and this may be why only 11% of organizations can produce workforce information in real time.

But it’s not just down to technology—it’s about changing how you approach your data. “As an organization, you need to own your own data. But you also need to think about new approaches to old metrics,” says Phil Wilburn, head of people analytics and insights at Workday. “Asking new questions will help you navigate the future, because the future will demand new answers.”

For organizations to create an agile workforce, Deloitte recommends “equipping workers, and thus the organization, with the tools and strategies to adapt to a range of uncertain futures in addition to reskilling them for near-term needs” (pgs 75-76). To achieve this, you need analytics to anticipate future needs, and shift from the mindset of simply reskilling your workers to creating an environment where workers constantly renew their skills and learn new ones.

The future of HR will undoubtedly be shaped by rapid changes in technology, a broader and more influential focus for HR, and an ability to answer new questions that shape strategic decisions. And if organizations hope to succeed in these areas, they must make bold choices now.

To learn more about the results and other trends highlighted in Deloitte’s research, read our report, “Insights into the Changing HR Landscape: Understanding the Trends Shaping Human Capital Management.”

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