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Jamie Lawrence


Insights Director

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“HR directors must show senior leaders what the root causes are to problems,” says KPMG’s Kate Holt


Kate Holt is KPMG’s Director at their Global HR Centre of Excellence. She helps clients get the most from their workforce in a range of areas including cost optimisation, organisational capability and transformation, employee engagement and uptake of IT platforms. She has been with KPMG since 1999 in a variety of roles including HR director, HR lead and graduate recruitment officer.

1) What is the fundamental mistake most HR teams make when trying to link HR with organisational outcomes?

HR teams often fail to understand and align their activities to the business strategy and this is when they struggle to understand the key issues and the root causes. They don’t look for the data to give insight into how they can support the business achieving its desired outcomes, they make assumptions on how they can contribute to the organisational outcomes.

2) How can HR directors improve their relationship with senior leaders to better get buy-in for HR policies such as engagement?

HR Directors need to show senior leaders the compelling facts. These need to support the policies and show what the root causes are to problems. More importantly, they need depict what impact the policies are having on the bottom line and market share. They should be able to track the impact of their policies, making changes along the way to ensure maximum positive impact to the organisation.

3) What pressures does the increasingly multi-generational workforce put on people strategy?

The people strategy can’t be a one size fits all, the HR function need to take an approach akin to a marketing team and really understand the needs of all the people in the organisation and tailor policies and practices that engage and support everyone. For example, flexible working, it’s not just about people with caring responsibilities but young people who want to travel, older workers who want to gradually retire.

4) How should HR directors go about integrating new technological advancements e.g. cloud based core HCM into people strategy?

They should embrace the increased optionality and agility that technologies such as Cloud can provide, and configure it to align with the business objectives. Technology can be an incredible enabler but it can also be an Achilles heel. HR directors should truly utilise the mobile functionality and improved self service capability to engage with the organisation in a more innovative and effective manner. Improved functionality in specialist areas like Talent provides much greater capability for HR Directors to manage and address global talent challenges across the organisation.

5) Other than HR technology, what do successful organisations do to enhance the capability of their HR team?

Build their skills in driving data insights to make decisions. Train them as internal consultants with the ability to actually identify the root cause of the problems and properly remedy the issues rather than just assume they understand and fix the issue with remedies they feel comfortable delivering.

6) What strategies for improving uptake of systems have you seen work successfully in the past?

Understand the business issues and how technology can help. All too often HR are looking at the technology to tackle HR problems, in order to secure buy-in and funding it must show a clear line of sight from the business objectives to the technology and how it will enable the successful achievement of the objectives. 

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Jamie Lawrence

Insights Director

Read more from Jamie Lawrence