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Cath Everett

Sift Media

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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News: HR needs to break out of its comfort zone, warns report

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Too many HR professionals are struggling to meet the needs of a constantly changing global business environment and feel themselves paralysed in the face of seemingly monumental challenges, research has warned.

The study mirrors the findings of a report published earlier this week by management consultancy, KPMG, which revealed that the majority of senior executives believe the HR function is ineffective and consistently fails to provide value.
 
But this latest offering entitled the ‘State of Human Capital 2012’ from business researchers, The Conference Board, and management consultancy, McKinsey & Co, points out that “people processes” are failing to keep up with shifts in global markets and technology.
 
This means that, despite progress in areas such as workplace diversity and flexibility, HR departments are struggling to deal with a global talent shortage, to adapt to a changing workforce and develop new flexible working models to meet the requirements of tomorrow’s workers.
 
Rebecca Ray, the Conference Board’s senior vice president of human capital, said that it was imperative for HR directors to work harder and smarter and to get themselves “at the heart of strategy development conversations”.
 
“Human capital functions need to break out of their comfort zone, take risks and become a true business partner,” she added.
 
Bryan Hancock, a partner in McKinsey’s Atlanta office, agreed. He said that HR departments were “facing a real struggle to make a strategic difference in their organisations”, and so had to partner with other functions to address critical business issues and have a “long-term systemic impact on human capital”.
 
In order to manage the global talent pool effectively in an unpredictable business environment, HR directors needed to:
 
  1. Anticipate and plan ahead for tomorrow’s talent requirements: The rising number of highly-connected Millennials and the growing use of virtual offices meant that the workplace of the future would look very different from today.
  2. Ensure that you have a steady and reliable pipeline of skilled workers for now and leaders for tomorrow: The talent war is still on-going, driven by relatively high growth rates in emerging markets and a mismatch between jobs and workers’ skills in most regions of the world.
  3. Develop strategies to help motivate your staff about what they do and the organisation they work for: An engaged workforce is more likely to stay put and make a positive contribution, thus boosting financial performance.
  4. Ensure that HR was able to adapt more quickly than the wider organisation: Organisational agility is vital in today’s volatile business environment. A study from MIT indicates that so-called ‘agile organisations’ see their sales and profits grow 37% and 30% faster respectively than rivals that are unable to move as fast.
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Cath Everett

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

Read more from Cath Everett
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