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"The future depends on what you do today."—Gandhi

An elite group of HR organizations identified as “HR Pathfinders” emerged again this year — roughly 10 percent of the survey population. These Pathfinders report stronger performance across several dimensions crucial to the HR function and see the function as a strong value driver in their organization. Compared to their counterparts, Pathfinders are:

  • More confident that their organization can attract, retain, and develop the talent needed to meet growth objectives, and they are likely to lay off fewer employees (10 percent versus 17 percent) 
  • More likely to invest in leading technologies—focusing less on replacing core systems and more on artificial intelligence and custom app development (39 percent versus 31 percent) 
  • More proficient in using data analytics to target and recruit the future workforce (98 percent versus 44 percent).

Pathfinding HR organizations do not focus exclusively on the short-term issues, but also on purpose-driven priorities that made them strategic leaders before COVID-19; now, it is helping them to get through the pandemic with greater agility than their peers. A majority of these organizations are already in the new reality phase in dealing with the impacts of the pandemic.

Stages of dealing with COVID-19
Road to new reality

Pathfinders are leading the way and can offer a roadmap for other HR leaders to follow.


This Future of HR in the New Reality report highlights the areas that HR leaders who aspire to become Pathfinders should focus on to build their plan.

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