The Future of HR 2019: embracing bold change

Future of HR 2019: embracing bold change

In today’s digital world with its myriad of complex people challenges, HR leaders and CEOs have a great opportunity to double down on transformation to help their organisations stay relevant and sustainable amid the forces of disruption.

Stefanie Bradley

Partner in Charge, Enterprise Transformation

KPMG Australia


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Forward-looking HR leaders are recognising that the future of HR is now. To remain viable in today’s market, HR teams need to change perspective, drive connectedness and embrace bold change. KPMG’s global Future of HR 2019 provides fresh perspectives and insights to help the HR function remain relevant throughout ongoing disruption.

Key highlights

Emphasising a culture for change

HR executives in Australia most commonly describe the culture of their enterprise as ‘task-oriented’ (51 percent), having a ‘low risk tolerance’ (38 percent), and as ‘hierarchical’ (30 percent). This is of some concern as these top three traits don’t signify a company that is ready to face disruption. This indicates that HR functions that wish to instil change in their organisation (and their function) may be restricted by a culture that makes this difficult.

Embracing data and analytics capabilities

HR executives in Australia think that HR can provide value to their organisations through analytics (70 percent). Around 41 percent agree that their enterprise is effective in bringing together data from various sources to make workforce decisions. However, only 19 percent of organisations are looking towards HR to address analytics as a top issue. This low focus is surprising given that data and analytics capabilities are critical to shaping and managing a workforce that is fit for an ever-changing future.

Focusing on employee experience

Eighty-five percent of HR leaders believe that their capabilities around employee experience and employee engagement are valuable to their organisations. Only 12 percent say that their management board is looking to HR to address employee experience, and 24 percent employee engagement. This may be why only 15 percent of HR executives rank employee experience as a top initiative for the next 2 years.

However, while HR may be doing a good job in this space, with the current war for talent, the emerging gig economy, and increasing global mobility of people, the ability to attract and retain top talent is getting harder.

Enabling cohesion across functions

While 62 percent of HR executives agree that HR has undergone, or is undergoing a digital transformation, only 46 percent have a workplace digital plan in place (either at the enterprise level or by business unit).

As automation and AI find their place in organisations, 51 percent of HR executives said the governance for digital labour at their workplace falls under Information Technology’s remit, and 23 percent said it is HR’s job.

It is important to be clear on the roles and responsibilities around digital transformation, as the best results come when there is cohesion around governance, strategy and integration across functions.

Key recommendations

  • Review organisational culture to see traits like agility, collaboration, innovation and metrics become more prevalent across the enterprise
  • Engage more deeply with data and analytics, particularly predictive data, to help with workforce shaping and planning
  • Focus on employee experience and employee value propositions to be competitive in the war for talent, and fit for cross generational workforces
  • Focus on cohesive digital transformation across the business. Part of this is preparing for the advance of AI and automation, and its integration into a collaborative workforce
  • Embrace the opportunity to architect a connected enterprise – connecting people with values and purpose, creating the right employee experience and connecting as a function across the entire organisation.

About the survey

During July to August of 2018, 1201 senior HR executives from 64 countries participated in the Future of HR Survey, with representation from 31 industries across Asia Pacific, Europe, North America, Middle East/Africa and Latin America. Approximately half of the sample are companies with a headcount of 5000 or more employees and 42 percent of participants were from organisations with revenue of 1 billion.

KPMG Australia acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we operate, live and gather as employees, and recognise their continuing connection to land, water and community. We pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging.

©2022 KPMG, an Australian partnership and a member firm of the KPMG global organisation of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Limited, a private English company limited by guarantee. All rights reserved. The KPMG name and logo are trademarks used under license by the independent member firms of the KPMG global organisation.

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