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Culture with purpose, talent development and workforce shaping have all emerged as strong priority areas in this year’s Global HR Pulse Survey, writes Conor McCarthy, Head of People and Change,  and Director at KPMG.

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”
John F Kennedy

The core themes emerging from this year’s survey are grounded in the fundamental need for organisations to (yet again) change how they do things. In years gone by, the word ‘disruption’ featured strongly in our reports. In the ‘now normal’, the lines between BAU and disruption have become blurred. We appear to be navigating a constant state of disruption. When so much around us in flux, the fundamentals of change management, leadership and strong communication have never been more important. 

Key lessons

This year’s survey reveals other key lessons:

  • Build culture with purpose: If the organisation does not take steps to engage the workforce, the organisation’s carefully curated culture will dissolve into an environment of isolation, anxiety, and video fatigue. That puts productivity, on-the-job learning, and employee retention at risk. There is a critical need for organisations to shape the experience of employees in a world that is radically altered by hybrid work models, and replace the experience of culture that comes from being in a physical office environment with something that is both enduring and adaptable.
  • Talent development: Senior executives now see talent development as key to future success. Reskilling is ranked in this year’s survey as the most important factor in shaping future workforce composition (72 percent of respondents say that it is important). Interestingly, “Talent risk” ranked near the bottom of the list of CEO concerns pre-COVID-19; however, recent complimentary research undertaken via the KPMG 2020 CEO Outlook shows that since the pandemic began, it has jumped 11 places to the number one threat to long-term growth. CEOs recognise that keeping their people feeling trained, engaged, and productive is critical to surviving the crisis.
  • Workforce shaping: At the most basic level, workforce shaping focuses on identifying priority skills and roles, often in a way that is siloed from the development of the wider business strategy. This year’s report reveals a need for organisations to develop a “Total Workforce” model that connects workforce shaping with business insights, employee experience design, and agile workforce management.

Get in touch

Should you have any questions on the findings of this year's HR Pulse Survey, please contact Conor McCarthy, Head of People and Change.

Further reading