Business Growth Jeopardized by Companies' Failure to Adjust to 21st Century Workforce

A significant gap exists between the talent and leadership issues organizations face and their readiness to respond, according to the results outlined in the Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited’s (DTTL) Global Human Capital Trends 2014 survey of over 2,500 business and Human Resource (HR) leaders. 


Across the world, respondents recognized the need to take action on critical issues including leadership (86 percent), retention and engagement (79 percent), and reskilling the HR function (77 percent). However, many expressed reservations about their teams’ ability to address the issues. 


“The challenge facing the majority of global organizations is that they are not prepared to deal with the major trends that are reshaping today’s workforce,” said Jeff Schwartz, global human capital leader for marketing, eminence, and brand, DTTL. “Given the radical shifts we are seeing in demographics and technology, applying existing methods to new and emerging human capital trends will not be enough to get the job done. The 21st century organization is global, highly connected, and demanding. Organisations, and specifically HR leaders, need to better adapt if they want to attract and develop the right talent in today’s competitive marketplace.”


“In many ways, the survey findings reflect the situation in China and Chinese companies are not ready to deal with some of the prevalent talent challenges," says Jungle Wong, Lead Partner, Asia Pacific and China Human capital advisory services. "When it comes to training, for instance, Chinese companies realise the needs to replace traditional training classrooms with a tapestry of easy-to-use learning approaches and resources, but they appear less prepared to act."


Wong notes it is important for Chinese companies to develop comprehensive talent development, acquisition and retention strategies to embrace challenges arising from the ongoing economic transformation in China.


Lack of leadership threatens competitiveness
Respondents felt that developing leaders at all levels was the top issue facing the majority of organizations, yet only 13 percent believe they do an excellent job in leadership development; 66 percent believe they are “weak” in their ability to provide focused leadership programs for millennials, and over half (51 percent) have little confidence in their ability to maintain consistent succession programs.


Beyond retention
Retention and engagement of employees was the second top challenge, according to the survey. More than one-third (38 percent) of leaders report they are “weak” at integrating social, community, and corporate programs and aligning employee and corporate goals. Additionally, four-in-ten (40 percent) state their organization is “weak” in helping employees balance their personal and professional lives.


HR playing catch up
The survey reveals that many HR teams lack the skills needed to meet the challenges of today’s global business environment characterized by disruptions in labor markets, evolving workforce demographics, shifts in technology and the changing nature of work itself.  In fact, more than one-third (34 percent) of the respondents believe that their HR and talent programs are just “getting by” or even “underperforming.” Moreover, less than 10 percent of HR leaders have confidence that their teams have the skills needed to meet the challenge of today’s global environment and consistently deliver innovative programs that drive business impact.


“There’s no doubt that human capital strategies are now a major factor in business growth,” said Brett Walsh, Global Human Capital leader, DTTL. “One of our biggest findings in this research is the fact that doing more is not enough. Today, companies have to manage people differently—creating an imperative to innovate, transform, and reengineer human capital practices. When you add to this the rapidly changing landscape of HR technologies, such as cloud and big data, and their impact on attracting, retaining and developing talent, it becomes clear that reskilling HR teams is arguably the most critical mission for organisations today.”

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