‘The Future of HR’ is a phrase that can ignite a seemingly endless discussion. While the future holds no guarantees and is up for grabs, one unarguable premise while holding a discussion about future is that it will be based on what we do today. Results from Corporate Leadership Council’s (CEB) annual CHRO survey do precisely that, and aggregate the position, opinion, and trends of CHRO’s today while charting a future course.
Over 100 HR leaders from organizations more than 20 countries were quizzed on their priorities and expected challenges. The highlight of the findings, interesting and informative in equal parts, are as follows:
- While CHRO’s have a long list of to-do's this year, the biggest priorities are: Change Management (41%), Leadership Development/HiPo (33%) and Succession Management (32%), Engagement and Retention (31%) and Talent Management Process (27%).
- As far the CHRO’s personal development priorities are concerned, Business Acumen, Board Management, Coaching/Mentoring and Technical Expertise take the top slot.
- Collaborative, High Performance, Accountability, Customer Focus, and Innovation are some of the cultural attributes being pursued by organizations, in decreasing order of priority.
- The report also found that 75% of the CEOs realize the importance of talent to organizational strategy, and CHROs expect CEOs to be most concerned with leadership (50%), succession management (42%) and employee management (36%).
The five areas of focus for Heads of HR in 2017 are:
1. Creating a strategy aligned-culture
When 92% of the CHROs agree that the culture has a significant impact of financial outcomes, it is not hard to understand that 76% of those questioned agreed with the fact a cultural change was anticipated in 2017. The report also suggests that culture is not keeping pace with the business strategy and CHROs are much more confident in defining a new culture for their organization than actually implementing and embedding it.
2. Transforming HR from the outside in
While macro-trends like big data, consumerization of HR and digital disruptions are obviously helping HR evolve, CHRO’s seem to be spearheading this change with a majority of them working on talent analytics, HR service delivery and digital talent. Three distinct pathways are prevalent to transform HR: innovating talent management processes and policies (36%), creating a digital employee experience (32%) and maximising organizational speed and scale (32%). However, 70% of the CHROs also agree that problematic internal HR partnerships are damaging and result in dysfunction.
3. Succession under pressure
45% of the CHROs are feeling the pressure for executive succession, and are being asked to plan a succession approach, sustain a talent pipeline and develop talent faster. While 34% of the CHROs want to know how they can improve on the 9-Box matrix for evaluating successor readiness, only 11% think there is a need to change the current approach to introducing internal senior leadership candidates to the board – thus showing that not enough CHROs are thinking about improving the board’s visibility to top talent. 24% CHROs do not discuss CEO succession with the CEO and only 17% of the CEOs think their successor should have a completely different or somewhat different capability profile.
4. The Cross-functional CHRO
Consider this: 71% of the CHROs say that 23% their time is spent on over five cross-functional initiatives. In other words, cross-functional objectives take up a lot of the CHRO’s time. But their success in these initiatives depends on partnership with CFO (84%), CIO (53%) and CSO (47%). While the CFO will back the big changes, the CIO will focus on building next-gen digital platforms, and the CSO will close the gap between planning and execution of corporate strategies.
5. Board Relationships
While 56% of those surveyed think that the board understands talent issues, yet 67% also say that they need to better communicate their talent management insights with the board. The trends of aligning CHRO work and board priorities, and increased CHRO involvement in board management are also on the rise.
The report provides several other data-rich interesting insights on how the CHRO of today thinks and operates. From CHROs evaluating partnerships at the workplace, to understanding what prompts cultural change and what the CHRO’s role in it is, assessing the capability of HR in multiple functions – the report has it all, along with a helpful ‘resource to get started’ section at the end of each focus area. With minimal text and zero long-drawn inferences, it seems like the report has been designed keeping the quintessential distracted millennial in mind; this, however, doesn’t compromise on the depth and value of the report. The survey, thus, serves as an educative source of information to HR professionals all over the world, trying to understand the dynamic industry they are working in.