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KPMG report: global HR leaders split on urgent need to drive HR function into the future

HR function into the future

Two-thirds of Human Resources (HR) leaders have no digital plan; only 37 percent are “very confident” on ability to transform: 21st annual KPMG International survey


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Today’s HR leaders are divided on the urgent need to redefine the Human Resources function for success in the 21st century, according to KPMG International’s global survey of over 1200 HR leaders, entitled The Future of HR 2019: In the Know or In the No. While some HR leaders are confidently harnessing the resources and insights that will transform HR and its value to the enterprise, a much larger segment of less-confident HR leaders are demonstrating either a ‘wait-and-see’ approach or simply sitting idle on the sidelines.

Manav Prakash, Director and Head of Management Consulting at KPMG in Bahrain commented on the report findings and said “Forward-looking HR leaders are acting boldly and consistently, viewing HR as a new value driver and turning to data, predictive insights and artificial intelligence. Employers in Bahrain and worldwide are making steady progress on the road towards digitization of the HR function. However, many organizations in Bahrain still have not engaged with this important trend. The survey report provides valuable insights on the role of technology in redefining the HR function in organizations regionally and globally. It also provides guidance for local HR leaders with case studies that can be used to stay ahead of the curve.”

Among key findings in KPMG’s new Future of HR study:

  • Just 40 percent of HR leaders said they have a digital transformation work plan in place
  • 70 percent recognize the need for workforce transformation but only 37 percent are “very confident” about HR’s ability to transform 
  • 42 percent agree that preparing the workforce for a future with Artificial Intelligence is one of the biggest challenges HR will face over the next five years
  • HR functions which are currently undergoing a digital transformation (or completed recently) consider skill deficiencies (51 percent) and lack of resources (43 percent) to be the key barriers to moving from initial phases of the transformation to scale
  • Workplace culture is also considered a top barrier to digital transformation for 41 percent of respondents. About one in three (35 percent) said their current culture is more task oriented rather than innovative or experimental 

This survey of 1200 executives also reveals a difference of opinion between HR teams and their senior leaders. More than half of the HR executives surveyed – 60 percent – believe AI will eliminate more jobs than it creates. Conversely, KPMG’s 2018 Global CEO Outlook study revealed about the same number of CEOs, 62 percent, believe AI will create more jobs than it eliminates.

Download the complete report at You can also follow the conversation @KPMG on Twitter, using the hashtag: #FutureOfHR

© 2020 KPMG Fakhro, a Bahrain partnership and a member firm of the KPMG network of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”), a Swiss entity. KPMG and the KPMG logo are registered trademarks of KPMG International, a Swiss entity. All rights reserved.

KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”) is a Swiss entity.  Member firms of the KPMG network of independent firms are affiliated with KPMG International. KPMG International provides no client services. No member firm has any authority to obligate or bind KPMG International or any other member firm vis-à-vis third parties, nor does KPMG International have any such authority to obligate or bind any member firm.

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