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The HR function has a historic opportunity to adopt a new role as ‘custodian of success’ for the enterprise

The HR function has a historic opportunity to adopt...

By Nicholas Tan, KPMG Singapore.

Robert Bolton

Head of Global People & Change Center of Excellence, KPMG International; Partner

KPMG in the UK


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We’re reading and hearing so much dialogue and commentary today on the future of work as the digital economy dramatically redefines workplace cultures and how we do business.

With change engulfing organizations and their workforces everywhere, I truly believe we’re poised at a critical juncture in human history – one that promises unprecedented advances and opportunities surrounding the future of work.

Today’s new reality means the pressure is on as never before for businesses and their HR teams to adopt a bold new mindset for the ages. Every challenge creates a new opportunity, of course. And in my view, today’s dynamic environment represents a remarkable opportunity for HR to play a major new role as the custodian of success for their organization.

Doing so will require HR to lead the way in creating intelligent, people-centric workplaces whose values are clearly communicated and lived up to by everyone across the organization – leaders in particular. HR leaders will also need to provide – as many already are – modern, custom-made employee experiences that fully exploit the benefits of new technologies in order to attract, develop and retain the best and brightest talent. Creating an employee experience that differentiates employers in the digital age’s emerging and increasingly fierce war for talent will be critical.

Beyond creating people-centric cultures and a modern employee experience, HR can lead the way to effectively manage, engage, inspire and retain the five generations of workers now reporting to work each day. Future-focused organizations are already responding to the need to develop a deeper understanding of every employee’s unique combination of skills, strengths, goals and purpose. And these businesses are seeing new competitive advantages emerge.

As they take on this multi-generational challenge, HR leaders should also be poised to create powerful new strategies that seamlessly integrate diverse work teams with digital labor in the form of AI, robotics and beyond. For future custodians of success, the key here will be collaboration. The need for new strategies that drive heightened collaboration between diverse demographics – and between people and machines – will be unlike anything we’ve witnessed to date and will prove critical to future success.

Are HR teams ready to respond by actively pursuing a new role as custodians of success? Our research indicates that most businesses have been slow off the mark in transforming the HR function. Many fail to realize, or have yet to act on, the fact that the HR function transformed for the future will deliver immense new levels of leadership, insight, performance and value to their organization.

But make no mistake – HR is at a historic crossroads. And bold action today will position HR to successfully adopt an exciting new role in reshaping today’s traditional workplaces into tomorrow’s futuristic workforces.

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