Less Than Half of HR Leaders Rate Their Programs as ‘Good' or ‘Excellent'

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By Martin Berman-Gorvine

March 11 — Only 5 percent of HR leaders rate their organization’s HR and talent programs as “excellent,” and 34 percent rate them as “good,” according to a report, “Global Human Capital Trends 2015: Leading in the new world of work,” by New York-based Deloitte Consulting LLP.

The report, released March 4, drew on interviews with more than 3,300 business and HR leaders from 106 countries, 16 percent of whom hailed from North America.

At the root of the problem, according to Josh Bersin, principal and founder of Bersin by Deloitte and one of the report's authors, is an outdated focus by many HR professionals. “Many HR practices are not necessarily aligned with the business problems companies face, so they have a tendency to create ‘programs' that aren’t necessarily driving the impact leaders want,” he said in a March 11 e-mail to Bloomberg BNA. “It’s very hard to recruit, lead, manage and develop people in today’s competitive environment, and the old fashioned ‘HR generalist' skill set is not enough.”

“We think HR teams have to re-focus their internal skills, do a much better job of aligning with the business and take more risks with innovative new solutions and technologies,” he added.

‘Softer' Areas Are Top Priorities

Of the six “key findings” of the Deloitte report, the first is that “ ‘softer' areas such as culture and engagement, leadership and development have become urgent priorities.” For example, half of the survey respondents said culture and engagement are a “very important” issue, almost double the proportion who said so last year.

“The job market is now very dynamic, and highly skilled people can find jobs easily—so companies who don’t engage and excite people are losing top engineers, scientists, sales people, etc. to others,” Bersin said. “Big manufacturing companies are losing engineers to other large organizations, so they have to focus on the job environment, work environment and management environment. Leadership, learning and improvements to performance management are part of the solution.”

The second key finding is that leadership and learning have risen sharply in importance in respondents' eyes in the past year, with 32 percent more this year than last rating them as “very important,” while “only 6 percent of companies feel fully ready to address their leadership issues, only 10 percent feel comfortable with their succession program and only 7 percent have strong programs to build millennial leaders.”

“Leadership takes a continuous multi-year investment, coupled with direct involvement by business leaders,” Bersin said. “It demands top-level support by executives, with executives spending time on leadership; it requires development at all levels (from first-line up to senior executive); it must include developmental assignments as well as coaching and self-assessment, not just ‘training'; and it must include a leadership ‘model' which describes what leadership expectations are. Companies that are good at this make multi-year investments, have senior HR leaders involved and have deep executive involvement. When the program is just a bunch of ‘courses' it rarely sticks or drives significant value.”

As for learning, he added, traditional corporate video instruction “is pretty dull and boring” compared with the new world of massive open online courses and YouTube videos, so an overhaul is called for.

The four other key findings in the Deloitte report are:

• HR departments and the skills of HR professionals “are not keeping up with business needs,” leading HR professionals to give their teams a “C-minus” while non-HR business leaders rated them a “D-plus.”

• While HR departments are spending more on technology (a 4 percent rise from 2013 to 2014), it's not clear that they're getting the results that would justify the increased outlay.

• “Talent and people analytics are a high priority and a tremendous opportunity, but progress is slow,” with 35 percent of survey respondents saying that HR analytics are “under active development” in their departments, up just 2 percent from last year.

• Close to three-quarters of respondents think their work environments are too complex and simplifying them is urgent, and yet “HR is part of the problem.”

 

To contact the reporter on this story: Martin Berman-Gorvine in Washington at mbermangorvine@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Nadel at snadel@bna.com

The report can be accessed at http://d2mtr37y39tpbu.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/DUP_GlobalHumanCapitalTrends2015.pdf.