New roles are emerging within the HR function such as “chief experience officer” and “chief listening officer” as companies seek to improve learning opportunities for all employees and close a skills gap within the HR function, according to a new Deloitte report.

It found that four in 10 executives report their companies are ready to address the skills gap in HR (an increase of 25 per cent since 2015) and people analytics capability is gaining speed to help improve this culture and engagement gaps.

Executives who believe they are fully capable of developing predictive models doubled from 4 per cent in 2015 to 8 per cent in 2016, indicating rapid growth in analytics as a core discipline within HR.

“HR teams are learning to experiment with new ideas; they are making significant steps to upgrade skills; and a new generation of younger, more business-savvy and technology-empowered people are entering the profession,” said Jason Geller, principal, Deloitte Consulting.

“All of this will lead to stronger, more globally competitive organisations.”

Catering to the employee experience is a top priority for business and HR leaders, according to the report, which found the balance of power continues to shift in favour of the employee, causing business and HR leaders to focus on enhancing the employee experience to help attract and retain top talent.

The report also found that empowering teams, creating a new management model and developing a younger and increasingly inclusive leadership structure are three key ways in which organisations are responding to disruptive changes in digital technology, business models and workforce demographics.

More than 90 per cent of business and HR leaders have identified the critical need to redesign their organisation to meet global business demands, according to the Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends 2016 report.

Some 45 per cent of companies are either in the middle of a restructuring (39 per cent) or planning one (6 per cent) – despite the fact that only 14 per cent of executives believe their company is ready to effectively redesign their organisation.

“Businesses need to keep pace and meet the demands of this rapidly-evolving business ecosystem”

The report also found that technology and business disruption are fuelling the demand for a “new organisation”, and companies are shifting away from hierarchical, functional business models toward cross-functional “networks of teams,” in an effort to become more agile, collaborative and customer-focused.

Despite the enormous interest in this shift, however, only 21 per cent of business and HR executives feel expert at building cross-functional teams, and only 12 per cent understand the way their people currently work together.

In addition, generational diversity is increasing as millennials with high expectations for personal growth, work side-by-side with baby boomers, many of whom are delaying their retirement.

A new social contract, driven by demands for rapid career growth, flexible work arrangements and an increase in the number of contract and part-time workers, is dramatically changing the employer-employee relationship.

The new digital world of work is further fuelling these changes, and 74 per cent have identified digital HR – the complete redesign of HR tools and services around digital technology – as a top priority.

Forty-two per cent of companies are redesigning their HR systems to support mobile, just-in-time learning and 59 per cent are shifting their back-office HR systems to mobile in an effort to make them easier to use by employees.

Design thinking, a developing new discipline focused on employee-centric strategies, has also emerged as a major new trend that is transforming companies’ approach to managing, supporting and training their workforce.

“Turning the traditional corporate hierarchy on its head, in a disciplined way, will help develop networks of teams and spawn leadership”

“Businesses need to keep pace and meet the demands of this rapidly-evolving business ecosystem,” said Josh Bersin, principal, Bersin by Deloitte.

“By empowering teams, creating a new management model, and developing a younger and increasingly inclusive leadership structure, organisations are reinventing themselves to innovate, compete and thrive.”

Leadership models are also changing, and the report found the traditional leadership pyramid is not producing leaders fast enough.

More than half of executives said their companies are not ready to meet their leadership needs, and 22 per cent have no leadership programs for millennials.

To address this issue, 89 per cent of executives cite strengthening, reengineering and improving organisational leadership as an important priority in the year ahead.

“Running faster on the traditional leadership development track will not solve this perennial challenge,” said Brett Walsh, global human capital leader, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu.

“Companies must make and sustain investments in identifying and nurturing leaders earlier in their careers,” he said

“Turning the traditional corporate hierarchy on its head, in a disciplined way, will help develop networks of teams and spawn leadership.

“Senior leaders and traditional organisation structures will need to evolve to take full advantage of a re-energised leadership pipeline.”