What are the top 3 business priorities for senior HR executives in 2020?

What are the top 3 business priorities for senior HR executives in 2020?

In 2020, leaders must focus on what they can do today to prepare for tomorrow, according to Aaron McEwan, who outlines three pressing business priorities for senior HR executives in the year ahead.

It’s hard to imagine that we’re almost living in the year 2020. Though we’ve seen plenty of impressive technological advances, like artificial intelligence and phones that respond to biometrics, it’s not quite the world of flying cars and robots people once imagined we’d be living in by now.

Likewise, when it comes to the workplace, we’re not where we thought we’d be, with only nine percent of CHROs saying that their organisation is prepared for the future of work.

In an evolving digital world, organisations are in a never-ending race with technology when it comes to transforming the workplace, which is why automation will continue to equate to growth in 2020. According to Gartner, growing the business remains the top enterprise-level business objective in 2020.

In order to grow, organisations must closely monitor the environment in which they operate. This year has seen a tight global labour market, the rise of the contingent workforce and a strong movement in employee activism.

HR leaders are now faced with challenges on how to optimise productivity while facing a shortage of skilled employees, or employees who are skilled but perhaps don’t fit into the typical structures of a workplace we’ve always known.

“Businesses are increasing the number of positions in their analytics and HR technology teams; a direct correlation with how HR is relying more on technology and data in its operations”

Many organisations are already making changes internally to make way for transformation. Gartner research reveals businesses are increasing the number of positions in their analytics and HR technology teams; a direct correlation with how HR is relying more on technology and data in its operations.

In 2020, leaders must focus on what they can do today to prepare for tomorrow. Here’s how we recommend addressing the most pressing business priorities identified by senior HR executives in the year ahead.

Build critical skills and competencies for the organisation
Digitalisation is rapidly causing a shift in the skill sets required for businesses to be successful, and organisations are struggling to keep up. According to a recent Gartner survey, 46 percent of HR leaders report that their employees lack the skills that are necessary to drive future performance.

To ensure employees have the skills required to fulfill their duties, HR leaders should partner with business leaders to understand and maintain the proper balance of emerging, existing and legacy skill sets. HR teams will also need to work with managers in order to demonstrate to employees how the organisation is committed to developing in-demand skills by investing in skill-building opportunities beyond their existing roles.

Strengthen the current and future leadership bench
More and more, leaders are being asked to meet a range of new internal and external demands while facing increased scrutiny on their decision making.

In the last three years, leaders have experienced an increased amount of responsibilities in their position, the expectation to have a greater number of skills and the expectation to have a greater depth of knowledge about specific areas.

“HR teams should look to a ‘complementary leadership’ model that partners leaders together to share responsibilities based on complementary skill sets”

According to Gartner, only 50 percent of leaders agree they are well equipped to lead their organisations into the future. On the flip side, 45 percent of HR leaders struggle to develop effective mid-level leaders and more than one-third struggle to develop effective senior leaders.

To cultivate a strong leadership bench, HR teams should look to a “complementary leadership” model that partners leaders together to share responsibilities based on complementary skill sets. These leader partnerships allow each leader to specialise in core skills, develop needed skills and lead in critical areas. Gartner analysis showed leaders who use complementary leadership saw a 60 percent increase in their teams’ performance.

Implement organisational design and change management
Digitalisation has changed the way business is done. A proliferation of information and communication technologies, widespread increases in data availability, changing customer preferences and rapid business model disruption mean the corporate climate has become far more unpredictable and complex. 

Forty-three percent of HR leaders reported that their organisation does not have a clear and consistent strategy for digital transformation, and 35 percent of HR leaders say they have inadequate talent to drive digital transformation.

To make real progress, HR executives must become a trusted driver and advisor on digital transformation by doing the following:

  1. Become experts in digital business: Collaborate with leaders to address digital goals and ensure they are consistent with the organisation’s strategy.
  2. Leverage talent processes: Track employees’ skills to develop and refine the organisation’s digital plans and prevent execution blind spots.
  3. Deliver functional support: Motivate HR teams to make meaningful contributions to digital business transformation and actively review HR strategies to stay consistent with the changing needs and expectations of employees and business leaders.

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