29 (124) 2017
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HR & Professional Qualifications

Employers cannot keep up with the technological revolution

by Michał Olbrychowski, director, consulting, Deloitte
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In this world of new technologies, organisations need to treat their employees in the same way as they treat their clients.

The way high-performing organisations operate today is radically different from how they operated 10 years ago. Nonetheless, many businesses still follow industrial-age models that are 100 years old, heavily weighed down by legacy practices, systems, and difficult-to-discard behaviours. Building the organisation of the future is the top priority for almost 90% of CEOs and HR leaders across the world. This is an outcome of the digital revolution, as well as of demographic, political and social shifts that are now taking place. The latest Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends Report, Rewriting the rules for the digital world, emphasises that employers need to fully reimagine their organisational structures, talent management systems and HR strategies to keep up with the pace of the technological revolution. Polish HR systems are lagging far behind. Even though companies in Poland place a high priority on finding the best talents, 62% of respondents from our country admit to being unprepared for the task.

Technology’s advancing at an unprecedented rate; it’s completely transformed the way we live, work and communicate. As a result, new rules for business and for HR now apply. Rapid change is not limited to technology, but encompasses society as well. The increasing gap between accelerating technological advances and the ability to absorb innovation – the ability of individuals, businesses and the public sector – is of key importance from the perspective of effectively navigating the world of human capital.

As technology, artificial intelligence, and robotics transform business models and work, companies should start to rethink their management practices and organisational models. This may be why 88% of companies agree that building the organisation of the future is the most important challenge for 2017. Agility plays a central role in the organisation of the future, because companies race to replace structural hierarchies with networks of teams empowered to take specific actions.

Technologies are replacing CVs

Careers and learning and Talent acquisition rose, respectively, to the second and third positions in rated importance this year, with 83 and 81% of executives identifying these trends as important or very important. 62% of Polish employers admit that their organisations are not ready to acquire the most talented people, and 55% cannot ensure them the employee experience that could keep them happy about with their work and working environment. This is probably the reason why - in contrast to the results of the global survey – talent acquisition still occupies the top position on the Polish HR manager’s list of priorities. As organisations become more digital, leaders need to face up to the new challenge of recruiting for positions and looking for competencies which until now have not been searched for or have not been needed altogether. According to Deloitte's research, only 12% of Polish organisations do not intend to make any changes in their current recruitment strategies. This data reflects the scale of the phenomenon as a whole - conversely, many organisations are aware of the need to make changes and, at various points, actively respond to the shifts observed on the labour market. Readiness for change has been confirmed by 39% of organisations.

To judge whether candidates will be effective, employers shift their focus from checking credentials to confirming skills. More than a quarter of global business leaders (29%) use games and simulations to attract and assess potential candidates, but only 6% think that their performance in that regard is excellent. While Deloitte finds that cognitive technologies have helped leaders bring talent acquisition into the digital world, only 22% of survey respondents describe their companies as 'excellent' at building a differentiated employee experience once talent is acquired.

The employee is as important as the customer

More than ever before, employees today expect a productive, engaging and friendly working environment and work experience.  Rather than focus narrowly on employee engagement and culture, organisations are developing an integrated focus on the entire employee experience, bringing together all the workplace, HR, and management practices. A new marketplace of pulse feedback tools, wellness and fitness apps, and integrated employee self-service tools help HR departments understand and improve this experience. Thus, employees are gradually becoming as valuable as customers, and it is the employers' responsibility to be able to meet the employees' needs. Like marketing and product teams that have moved beyond customer satisfaction to look at total customer experience, HR also now refocuses its efforts on building programmes, strategies, and interdisciplinary teams that understand and continuously improve the entire employee experience to attune the working environment to the needs of people in the company, regardless of the stage of their careers. However, only 22% of the respondents rate themselves as 'excellent’ in this area.

As AI systems, robotics, and cognitive tools grow in sophistication, almost every job is redefined. The said process is sometimes referred to as 'augmented workforce'. Seeing that this trend gathers speed, businesses must reconsider how they design jobs, organise work, and plan for future growth. This year, 41% of companies report that they have fully implemented or have made significant progress in adopting cognitive and AI technologies within their workforce. At the same time, only 17% of global executives indicate that they are ready to manage a workforce with people, robots, and AI working side by side – the lowest readiness level for a trend in the five years of the Global Human Capital Trends survey. While many jobs are being reinvented through technology and some tasks are being automated, Deloitte’s research shows that the essentially human aspects of work, such as empathy, communication, and problem solving, are becoming more important than ever.

Leader in the digital world

Leadership has been among the top HR trends for several years now – this year 78% respondents listed leadership among their top priorities. Deloitte finds that as organisations shed legacy systems and dismantle yesterday’s hierarchies, it’s important to place a higher premium on implementing immersive learning experiences to develop leaders who can thrive in today’s digital world. The percentage of companies with strong leadership programs has risen by nearly 22 percentage points (from 47% in 2015 to 64% in 2017). The need to transform the leadership model is not so pronounced in Poland – it was eighth in the trend ranking. The survey shows however that redesigning the leadership model will soon become an important human capital challenge to be handled by Polish employers – 41% of the participants express this opinion. In total, 83% of respondents stress the need to shape a new leadership model in the area of digital technologies. At the same time, 57% admit that no formal leadership programmes have been prepared or implemented in their companies so far.

The HR function is now in the middle of the process of 'identity change'. To advance to the position a leading advisor to business functions, the HR organisation needs to structure itself for service delivery efficiency and excellence in talent programmes, it also must adopt a 'digital' mindset, a 'digital' approach to work. Designing the organisation of the future is a difficult project of trial and error. It’s a continuous, dynamic, and, in a sense, never-ending process. Yet for companies that rise to the challenge, the pay-off can be immense in terms of financial performance, productivity, employee engagement, and a host of other benefits.

Ten most important global HR trends in 2017:

  • Organisation of the future - 88% recognised it as important/very important

  • Careers and learning – 83% recognised it as important/very important

  • Talent acquisition – 81% recognised it as important/very important

  • Employee experience - 79% recognised it as important/very important.

  • Performance management – 78% recognised it as important/very important

  • Leadership model change - 78% recognised it as important/very important

  • Digital HR - 73% recognised it as important/very important

  • People analytics - 71% recognised it as important/very important

  • Diversity and inclusion - 69% recognised it as important/very important

  • Future of work - 63% recognised it as important/very important

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