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HR professionals see digitisation, diversity and talent as top priorities

Published on: 9 May 2018

HR professionals see digitisation, diversity and talent as top priorities

  • 77% of respondents believe digitisation will strongly shape the future of work
  • 84% agree that achieving diversity of thought contributes positively to the bottom line
  • Morale in HR improved for 36% of respondents, despite political and economic uncertainty

Frazer Jones report shows that in a world of economic uncertainty and talent scarcity, HR must keep up with technological developments to attract and retain great staff. 

The survey of thousands of HR professionals across 12 countries provides unique insight into the state of play in the global HR sector.

The Global HR Spotlight 2018 report covers six key topic areas: HR’s current status; its evolving role; the influence of digitisation and technology on talent acquisition and management; the inclusion agenda; the issues around future talent; and predictions and plans for the future of work.

Key findings:

  • 77% of respondents agree that digitisation will strongly shape the future of work, and 95% believe strongly or moderately that new technology will allow HR to become more efficient and strategic.
  • As a result, technology skills are viewed as strongly important in today’s workforce by 69% of respondents. Although, interestingly, not as important as human skills such as communication and interpersonal skills (88%) and soft skills (81%).
  • 64% say it’s growing more challenging to attract key talent. But 69% agree one good solution would be for HR to achieve a more strategic role within organisations.
  • 25% see engaging and retaining talent as the biggest priority for 2018.
  • Hence, 40% of organisations are strongly focusing on providing staff with opportunities for career progression.
  • 84% agree that achieving diversity of thought within their workforce contributes positively to the bottom line.
  • Overall morale in HR divisions improved for 36% of respondents, remaining high for 30% and moderate for 50%. However, a third (33%) admitted to a decline.

Specialist HR recruitment consultants Frazer Jones put together the report to build on the success of its previous Global HR Reports, which have proven to be comprehensive guides to the demographics, remuneration, sentiment and satisfaction of HR professionals worldwide.

The results of the 2018 survey make for illuminating reading and provide real food for thought for all HR departments.

The headline grabber is probably the need for HR to embrace digitisation and new technology, both as a practical tool for work duties (84% of respondents use HR information systems), but also to help staff work more flexibly – from home or remotely. 

Meanwhile technologies such as digital assessment, robotic process automation, AI and robotics, and predictive analytics are increasingly recognised as important by recipients to free up time and money in many areas of business. 

But Darren Wentworth, Global Partner at Frazer Jones, insists: “While technology and the impact of digitisation remain hot topics, the need for ‘people people’ has never been stronger. 

“Organisations that focus on environment and culture require strong people leaders, and many organisations are investing heavily in the quality of leadership and their ability to engage, inspire and retain their staff – highlighted in our survey results as the single biggest priority for HR teams in 2018.”

As such, companies are prioritising providing opportunities for career progression to staff (40%), financial incentives/enhanced benefits (38%), and learning and development (36%). But they’re also thinking more creatively about their culture, offering flexibility and enabling staff “to bring their whole selves” to work (a high priority for 29% of participants’ organisations).

The report shows that if HR has good leaders in place, supported by sufficient technology to enable the collection and analysis of relevant workforce data, it can thrive over the coming years – becoming ever more strategic and attracting a new generation into the profession. 

There’s also a call to broaden the scope of HR roles to attract new talent. “For those companies looking at bringing new graduates on board, I believe a programme that encompasses roles within the business with roles in HR is key to building the necessary skills. I would also suggest it is the way to attract the right candidates that are needed to grow a business and ensure HR adds value,” says Louise Butler, Vice President, Pearson, in the report.

This is a view supported by Luigi Torlai, HR Director at Ducati Motori: “We can help attract future talent into HR by stressing the direct contact we have with people within the organisation, the professionality of the job and its variety, as well as HR’s strong role in the digital transformation of the company and change management.” 

Furthermore, half of respondents are strongly addressing making the recruitment process quicker and easier. Just over a quarter (27%) are strongly focusing on digitising the assessment process – a trend that is likely to gain momentum, according to industry forecasts.

This is important not only to win talent, but also to protect the organisation’s reputation: 92% of survey respondents believe that candidate experience impacts on their organisation’s brand.

Qualitative comments indicate a link between effective leadership and morale – both within HR and company-wide. As one respondent states: “Morale improved through more engagement activities, empowerment and room for decisions, backed by strong leadership.”

Likewise, diversity of thought is considered invaluable in decision making, contributing to the bottom line (according to 84% of respondents). As one respondent points out: “Fresh ideas or approaches to some of the highly challenging situations and problems we are solving are actively encouraged. It’s the best way of moving forward.”

You can find the full report here.