Digitisation, strategic workforce planning and more agile HR are among the most pressing people management issues HR leaders should focus on during the post-pandemic phase.
That was the finding of a large-scale study carried out by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and the World Federation of People Management Associations (WFPMA).
The two organisations surveyed more than 6,600 respondents in 113 countries and interviewed more than 30 executives at leading companies and start-ups worldwide for the report entitled Creating People Advantage 2021: The Future of People Management Priorities.
“Our results offer critical guidance for CHROs, senior people management executives, and all other leaders – including CEOs – aiming to build a future-proof workforce and workplace to support execution of their company strategy,” said Jens Baier, a senior partner at BCG and co-author of the report.
Key focus areas
The report considered 32 people management topics, ranking them according to the future importance of each topic, as well as companies’ current capabilities for addressing each one.
The authors then came up with a list of three key priority topics, broadly defined as areas that respondents recognised as being highly important in future, but where their current capabilities were lacking.
The first was digitisation, including the use of new technologies such as people analytics, cloud-based applications, AI and robotics.
The authors noted that ‘digital, AI, cloud and robotics in HR’ was the capability ranked lowest by those surveyed, and by some way.
“This is a distressing result, given the prevalence of technology in all aspects of a company’s operations, including people management,” said the report.
The second was talent, including strategic workforce planning, leadership development, upskilling and reskilling, and working with an ecosystem of employees, contractors and other types of labour.
Within that, a key finding in the report was the need to create personalised experiences for employees. Of the survey respondents, 85% said focusing on employee needs and expectations was a key factor in succeeding in the increasingly intense war for talent.
“Companies today must navigate an exceedingly challenging business environment – and strong, proactive people management is the only way to ensure that companies have the right talent in place to succeed,” said Bob Morton, President of the WFPMA and co-author of the report. “A data-driven, objective approach that places people at the front and centre of work can help HR leaders allocate scarce resources to the most urgent priorities.”
The final topic identified was the future of work, including more agile HR, the incorporation of ‘smart’ work, and change management.