Most organisations face an increasingly competitive market to operate in. Shortening profit margins, unpredictable socio-political environment, changing consumer preferences, evolving technology and means to production, and the increasing need to evolve business models has led to many business leaders take bolder steps towards making their companies relevant. This has also pushed businesses to be more ‘agile’ in evolving its operations to keep up with the market changes. Although not a phenomenon that is peculiar to this day and age, the scale and pace of change is phenomenal. This has translated into “business agility” becoming a favourite phrase of many business leaders.
But in order to create, and sustain this ability to rapidly adapt to changing market conditions, HR has a key role to play. As companies envision newer ways to grow, HR functions need to reflect a similar urgency when it comes to supporting such initiatives with the required talent and human capital. Something that seems to be a miss when it comes to India. According to the Mercer Global Talent Trends Study, reported Hindustan Times, 83% firms in India plan to restructure in the next two years. However, only 11% business executives say their organisation can adapt to this change with agility. The global survey had reached out to from 7500 senior business executives, HR leaders, and employees from organisations around the world, out of which 461 from India.
Hinting towards a mismatch in priorities regarding talent management, a similar disconnect was reported in the case of the global attention being given to the increasing scarcity of talent. Although the C-suite and HR agree that the competition for talent will continue to increase this year, but executives see this even more acutely — 43% of C-suite respondents expect the competition to be significant, compared to 34% of HR professionals. There seems to be a huge gap between business planning and its subsequent impact on shaping HR policies.
The report further finds a lack of alignment of talent priorities with their intended results. The report notes that although HR leaders are confident in their talent retention and management strategies work efficiently, over half of the employees (54%) have plans to quit in the next 12 months. This brings back the limelight on HR functions today as they struggle to create business impact in these changing times. Additionally, while HR leaders express confidence in the talent management processes they have in place (80 percent), employees are still looking elsewhere for new opportunities.
"Organisations need to prioritise a culture of agility to stay ahead of rapidly changing market trends," said Kate Bravery, Global Leader for Mercer's Career Business, adding that those employers that empower their workforce - by helping them plan for the unknown, mitigate risk, and thrive at work - will be more successful in building a responsive and successful organisation.
A focus on health and wellness is also an important concern for employees which often gets missed out in the modern day HR agenda. “Despite 53% of employees saying their health is more important than their wealth or career, and 64% expecting their workplace to be more focused on health, health and well-being ranks at the bottom half of HR leaders’ list of top talent management priorities this year” the report added.
“The impact of which, in parts is reflected on how, even though more employees in India (compared to other countries) are satisfied with their jobs, they report to feeling less “energized” while coming to work and are less likely to thrive in a collaborative and innovative workplace,” adds the report. With the changing nature of work, these factors become critical for HR professionals to deal with. As companies adjust to increasing instances of flexible and contractual forms of work, HR professionals might find themselves facing grave talent retention and management issues if such evolving forms of work are not taken into account while planning for the future
"In a world dominated by technological and digital disruption, to be seen as a strategic partner, HR will have to play an anchoring role in enhancing the organisation's change agility," said Shanthi Naresh, India Business Leader - Talent Consulting and Information Solutions, Mercer. This means that for HR professionals it becomes necessary that they look at creating people management policies that support business agility. By taking a realistic assessment of their policies and restructuring the bits which would help the organization talent support business change. In the need to meet short term transactional metrics, most often miss out on the big picture. But the criticality of HR functions would certainly have business asking more from them.
Ilya Bonic, president of Mercer’s Career business added, “What should not be forgotten is that growth rests on engaging and empowering today’s workforce in ways that we are just beginning to uncover. It takes employees armed with the right skills and opportunities to develop innovative solutions to advance the business and themselves.”
These indicators point towards a greater urgency within HR professionals to realign their focus areas to meet business needs. Although a lot has been done to ensure that today HR functions play more than just a transactional role in a company, the Mercer report reveals that there is still a growing need within organizations to adequately meet its talent demands and HR needs to play a critical role in supporting the same.