Low confidence in HR’s ability to support organizations: Survey

Critical issues include leadership, employee retention and engagement

Significant uncertainty exists in HR’s ability to address and respond to the challenges of today’s multigenerational, borderless and technologically savvy workforce, according to a Deloitte survey

Respondents recognized the need to take action on critical issues including leadership (73 per cent), employee retention and engagement (55 per cent) and workforce capability (50 per cent).

However, many HR professionals and non-HR executives expressed reservations about their readiness to take action. More than one-half of respondents also rated the current performance of their HR and talent teams as less than good, found the Deloitte’s 2014 Human Capital Trends survey of 133 HR and business leaders.

“The greatest challenge for the human capital management profession is how to manage a rapidly globalizing workforce, while at the same time keeping pace with shifting demographics and ever-evolving technology,” said Heather Stockton, Deloitte’s human capital practice leader in Canada. “Human capital strategies affect business’ ability to compete and grow. Now is the time for HR leaders and organizations to embrace these challenges and transform HR to effectively engage and manage the 21st century workforce.”

While the survey results suggest the confidence in HR’s ability to support organizations is low, the task at hand is far from impossible, she said.

“Business and HR leaders must have the confidence to reimagine and reinvigorate their teams,” said Stockton. “It is important that they do so in order to attract and develop the right talent for today’s marketplace.”

Top five challenges facing Canadian leaders, according to the survey:

Leaders of tomorrow need development opportunities now
Respondents identified leadership as the biggest challenge (73 per cent) and the most urgent priority, moving from fifth place a year ago. One-fifth of respondents (20 per cent) feel their companies are ready to support leadership development right now. While identified as an urgent matter (38 per cent of Canadian leaders), respondents view their talent programs to develop existing and future talent as either weak or adequate. And nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) of HR leaders rate their ability to leverage emerging tools and approaches — such as analytics and advanced media learning to develop future leaders — as weak.

Making a difference, not just earning a paycheque
Retaining and engaging employees was the second major challenge facing firms (55 per cent). Employee expectations have evolved to the point where compensation alone won’t attract or retain the best and brightest. Successful engagement strategies align personal, corporate and social goals. Three-quarters of HR professionals and their non-HR peers feel ready to respond and engage the 21st century workforce.

Wanted: Talent
Workforce capability rounds out the top three challenges, registering with one-half of respondents. Capability gaps have emerged in many organizations trying to respond to the scarcity and uneven distribution of skills in the global workforce. One in 10 (10 per cent) of HR leaders feel ready to address this challenge, while non-HR leaders feel twice as ready (20 per cent).

Reinventing talent acquisition
Canadian respondents believe talent acquisition and access is a greater challenge than their global counterparts (fourth in Canada, fifth globally). HR teams must move away from the traditional talent wells and use new strategies for finding talent, given the shifting workplace demographics. Social media and crowdsourcing will become ever more important for sourcing and advertising positions. More than one-half of respondents (53 per cent) feel somewhat ready, while nine per cent feel ready.

Corporate learning re-imagined
Respondents rank revisiting learning and development programs as the fifth greatest challenge affecting human capital decision-making (42 per cent). Millenials and other young employees are accustomed to mobile and web-based learning and gamification, meaning traditional training methods may not be as effective. One-quarter of respondents feel ready to meet the diverse needs of the four generations currently in the workforce.

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