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Leap ahead in 2012: decisive action is required on the HR front

Private Matters, June 2012

Leap ahead in 2012: decisive action is required on the HR frontAccording to Deloitte’s recent annual report on Human Capital Trends, it’s most appropriate that 2012 is a leap year, since a number of converging market trends are driving HR organisations to make significant leaps in capabilities and performance.

In her preface to the report Human Capital Trends 2012, Leap Ahead Lisa Barry, Deloitte Consulting’s National Leader of Human Capital, suggests HR faces a critical, dual imperative in 2012: a focus on enabling both its organisation’s overall growth agenda and on driving efficiency in the business of HR. This dual focus demands decisive action as the stakes are greater than ever.

Ms Barry says there are three core reasons for this sense of urgency:

  • CEOs are looking for every advantage they can find to drive growth. Talent is a key enabler of growth, of course, but it can also be a stumbling block if not managed properly. Especially in areas like sales force effectiveness and building a leadership pipeline.
  • Transformative technologies such as cloud, mobile, social, and advanced analytics are upending how work gets done, though many organisations are not yet ready to exploit their potential. HR should step in to help build the capabilities to use these tools effectively.
  • Enterprise risk has moved firmly onto the C-suite agenda. Leaders have come to understand that people risks represent a significant area of potential exposure.

The top eight human capital trends for 2012 outlined in the report include:

The report acknowledges that different organisations will have different views on which trends matter most for their HR and business agendas. Attempting to “leap ahead” on all eight trends could be a recipe for frustration. It is recommended instead to focus on the two or three trends that offer the greatest potential for your organisation’s current position and strategic business priorities.

For instance, the first trend in the report explores how growth is one of the main priorities for CEOs in 2012 and how HR needs to shape and inform an organisation’s growth agenda.

According to Lisa Barry, businesses in Australia need to continue to drive growth by ensuring HR boosts capabilities in three key areas: emerging markets, mergers and acquisitions (M&A), and innovation.

“In 2012, these three areas are not only offering significant growth opportunities for organisations but also present a wide range of people-related challenges. For example, within emerging markets there is a raft of capabilities, employability and cultural issues impacting on talent which needs to be prioritised in order for growth opportunities to be met.”

“Mergers and acquisitions may be a fast way to expand a business but often specific talents and capabilities can be gained using M&A as a strategy. It is critical that HR’s role in M&A activity also leverages culture, leadership and talent in order to gain from these transactions,” she said.

The report identified that HR and innovation can actively support an organisation’s growth agenda. However, organisations need to ensure innovation is not narrowly defined and includes HR innovations such as aligning people and talent factors like leadership, capabilities, processes, technology and organisational structures.

“Innovation must not be relegated to a specific team of people focusing on product development. A more holistic approach to innovation can drive business growth and leaders need to define innovation broadly to include services, processes, and business model and cost structure improvements across an organisation,” Ms Barry said.

The report identified specific steps HR can take now in order to support the CEO’s growth agenda:

  • Manage talent with growth in mind
  • Groom business leaders who can drive growth and innovation globally
  • Counsel the executive team  in people-related areas
  • Build an HR team focussed on informing and enabling growth.

“Every HR organisation and every business will require a specific combination of human capital investments to make the leap ahead and drive breakthrough performance. By focusing on the trends that matter most for your enterprise, you’ll be doing exactly what your business leaders expect – creating more value,” Ms Barry enthused.

For more information please contact:

Lisa Barry
Partner, Consulting
Tel: +61 3 9671 7248

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