Future of Work

How can businesses drive HR success in 2016?21st April 2016

There is no doubt that HR is entering an interesting period. A few years ago, businesses were enamoured with the idea of innovative new techniques that really started to capture the value in attracting, retaining and motivating employees. Business leaders started to see their HR department as exciting vehicles of strategy, instead of just an administrative machine. 

However, the excitement is wearing down and now we are thinking a bit more practically. Do we have enough in the tank to fuel these ideas? How can we apply these concepts into practice with our own business journey? Is this investment really going to turn into measurable performance?

The release of Deloitte’s Top Ten HR trends only solidifies this stage, laying out how exactly the company machine will perform with all new gadgets and ideas we have under the bonnet. Despite this new practical focus, there is still room to explore new avenues and put some more cutting-edge ideas into practice.

Back to the blueprint

Just like a luxury car brand, modern HR operations all hinge on design - at least, according to the team at Deloitte. Human Capital Consulting Leader Hamish Wilson summed up the insights of the research, gathered from over 7,000 business leaders across the globe.

“This year’s research clearly indicates that companies are overhauling their organisational structure and shifting toward cross-functional networks of teams in an effort to become more agile, collaborative and customer-focused,” he said.

“HR teams are learning to experiment with new ideas and they are making significant steps to upgrade skills. For those that get it right, all of this will lead to stronger, more competitive organisations.”

Digital solutions, once seen as revolutionary and cutting-edge, is slowly becoming a must-have for business that want to remain agile and many organisations are using them to deal with an array of demographics. Employees come and go at rapid rates and have much higher expectations around job structures and flexibility under their employer. To top it all off, the rate of change is accelerating much faster than even five years ago and businesses must respond in kind or be disqualified from the race.

All these factors are driving managers back to the blueprints of the organisation to discover how they can better optimise the organisation’s design for employee performance.

For many businesses, this is becoming standard operating procedure and even a little stale in some cases. However, there are ways that firms can try and find the spark in the engine that could lead us on the road to more innovative practises.

Under the bonnet

We’ve taken a keen eye to the 10 big trends in the report and hand-picked what we see as the most interesting and fresh aspects that will shape the year to come. Bear in mind, these are all categories that at least 80 percent of respondents in Australia and New Zealand ranked as “highly important” or “important”- now may be the time to jump in the driver’s seat.

#1 Design Thinking

The analysts at Deloitte are not the only ones getting familiar with the application of design thinking to manage employee performance.
As Hugo Sarrazin and Jennifer Kilian of McKinsey explained in a podcast earlier this month, design thinking is becoming an effective method to solve the most complex issues that a company encounters. This consists of two layers, adding value on both a personal level and across the entire organisation.
Sarrazin and Kilian explained that design thinking is experimental, utilising data to build models, test them and so the cycle continues. Although it sounds rather cold, the core motivation and vision should be the needs, motivations, pain points, and behaviours of your employees. After all, you’ve got to get the engine warm to get it running smoothly, and a positive employee experience can do wonders for your brand, especially in a time of increasing role and career change.
Which of course leads us to our next point…

#2 The Gig Economy

Contractors and freelancers are hardly a new concept, yet this career path is becoming a lot more commonplace, giving rise to what is known as the Gig Economy.
According to Deloitte, over 40 per cent of US workers will be freelancers in 2020 and right now, nearly 1 in 3 currently work under this structure. It’s not hard to see why, as the appeal of moving from project to project and have more control of one’s schedule is an attractive prospect. If you have a valuable, highly demanded skillset, being your own boss could be a wise career move.

While this is good news for individuals that want to be in the driver’s seat of their career, this could present a challenge for companies that lack a strong employer brand.

Meanwhile in New Zealand, the challenge to find the top skills talent in what can be a limited market is driving many organisations to hire freelancers or seek the service of contract workers, according to PwC. Unsurprisingly, the Tech Industry is in poll position on the trend, yet many other sectors will soon be joining the race.
While many CEOs are feeling the pressure of having to appeal this group of freelancers, there are solutions that can help smaller business pull ahead.

For example, PwC found that over a quarter of companies are currently utilising collaboration to acquire key personnel in hard-to-find areas. Sharing talent across a number of different organisations and entities as needed could be a good way to access the skillsets needed to advance companies.

Another idea is to turn to technology, especially…

#3 Digital HR:

In 2016, you’ll find it hard to find anyone in New Zealand that has been unaffected by the digital revolution. In HR, every process, meeting and interaction can be recorded and optimized with social, mobile, analytics, and cloud (SMAC) technologies. 

However, there seems to be a significant gap between what businesses can do and what they currently are doing. For example, Deloitte found that just 10 per cent of companies use mobile technology for performance management and even less apply it to coaching and time scheduling. Overall, only 9 per cent of companies are fully prepared to embrace digital in HR.

Again, this presents a perfect opportunity to tech-up and achieve a powerful advantage in the short run and a much tighter and efficient HR system in the long run. Making some smart digital investments will soon become the norm, leaving no room for laggards.

Despite the HR hype starting to slow down, there is still plenty of opportunity for companies right here in New Zealand to participate in the global race for talent development. HR departments are now strategic leaders in the company- they just need the right person with the right tools in the driver’s seat.

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