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Running in the red in 2013: HR leaders under pressure

By Jeff Schwartz - August 22, 2013

As I work with Chief Human Resources Officers (CHROs) at leading companies around the world, I am seeing talent challenges boiling to the surface, and HR is under pressure. 

Earlier this year Deloitte’s Global Human Capital consulting group conducted a global survey of 1,300 executives in 59 countries to rank the most relevant human capital trends facing their organizations; we were a bit surprised to find that the issues they face -- regardless of country or industry -- are very similar. The Human Capital Trends 2013 report Resetting Horizons details 13 trends which HR and business leaders need to place front and center as they shift their focus beyond the recession to the new growth opportunities ahead. The list of critical current and emerging trends includes both areas where HR needs to do new things – exploration-- and areas where HR needs to do thing better -- execution.

Not surprisingly, given the changes afoot, leadership pipelines and readiness is the top concern:  84 percent of global business and HR executives reported they must look for creative ways to develop new leaders as traditional leadership models are not keeping pace with today’s rapidly changing business and work environment. 

Four other trends, in addition to the importance of next generation leadership pipelines and programs, consistently rounded out the top five:

  • Accelerating and finding new ways to drive organizational change
  • Focusing more intensively and creatively on talent development (as we are seeing the talent wars move beyond acquisition to development, engagement, and retention)
  • Addressing the increased attention and interest from Boards of Directors around HR and talent issues and programs 
  • Transforming HR to focus on new business priorities – moving beyond HR efficiency and shifting attention to global scale, emerging markets, and innovation.

Perhaps the biggest surprise in our global survey and trends report is the finding that among  executives we surveyed 37 percent reported their companies require significant or radical improvements in HR -- while only 3 percent believe they currently have world class HR and talent programs. Many HR leaders are running in the red zone.

The clock is ticking. Business and HR leaders and boards are recognizing the changing and growing critical business needs driven by HR and talent – leadership, organizational change, and talent development, at the top of the list. The time for HR business as usual is over. It’s time for a new human capital agenda focusing on new priorities and new ways of delivering HR and talent services and partnering with the business.

View the infographic below for an illustrative summary of our Human Capital Trends report findings (click on image to enlarge or download the full image):

Deloitte HC Global Infographic

Us_jeffschwartz_56x56Jeff Schwartz is the global leader for Deloitte’s human capital marketing, eminence, and brand. He is a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP's Human Capital practice as well as the practice leader for the Human Capital practice in US India and a senior advisor to Human Capital practices in India and China. Jeff has led a broad range of projects at global companies and organizations on work force and talent strategies, strategic change, organization strategies, technology and regulatory adoption, and learning and development. 


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Thanks for share this important information about HR leaders .


Considering the findings are true, then an opportunity to shift the hierarchal model have arrived. As more educated workforce becomes available to acquire skills thus creating a driving front line, vs a managed front line. It is time to create a new model of business theory using the best of what is to create a new look at the best yet to come.

If a company cannot be comprised exclusively of purple squirrels with employee turnover only occurring at retirement or death, it seems to me that three of the functions of HR need to be addressed: selection, training, and loyalty....as it applies to all employees, not just the rock stars.

Big Data is a little more heavily leaned on that it should be, given that there are not enough fully trained, discretely identifiable rock stars to go around. Training needs to be more than an afterthought; efficiency is nothing without effectiveness, thus ineffective training is also cost ineffective. Lastly, loyalty is quite the commodity and often discounted; added to which it may or may not just be about the money.

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