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The Future of Work: Aussie HR Professionals Unprepared

A global perspective

Deloitte’s findings have revealed that only nine per cent of Australian companies know how to build a future-ready organisation. David Brown urges companies to rewrite the rules or risk losing the game.

The Australian Workplace is being revolutionised by arti­ficial intelligence, robotics and digital disruption. However, the Australian cut of Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report, Rewriting the rules for the digital age, finds that only 9 per cent of Australian companies say they know how to build a future-ready organisation, less prepared than global respondents (11 per cent).

Although 85 per cent of Australian HR professionals say fostering a better employee experience is their most im­portant priority, closely followed by building the organisa­tion of the future (84 per cent). They worry about managing their workforce cost-effectively.

Australian HR professionals are closely focused on re­tention through improving the employee experience, such as setting up systems to help employees deal with the vol­ume of communication and level of administration in their lives. Their very valid view is that if employees are happy, a company will see better productivity, greater collaboration, less turnover and greater retention of corporate knowledge.

However digital disruption is affecting business mod­els, work practices and employee lifestyles. Effectively man­aging this change will be critical to business growth in the short term requiring Australian companies to understand and elevate digital HR as a priority.

The danger is that Australian companies are not moving fast enough to adapt to the needs of the workforce of the future. Companies must embrace the speed of change, learn how to rewrite the rules, or risk losing the game.

The Deloitte 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report surveyed more than 10,000 businesses around the world on their HR practices, including 197 re­spondents in Australia. 

Top tips for 2017: embrace the speed of change

The report shows that in addition to embracing and understanding the speed of change, other tips for companies preparing for the organisation of the future include:

  • making talent mobility a core value
  • build in processes that support fluidity
  • forming an organisational perfor­mance group to study how high-per­forming teams actually work
  • examining new communications tools (such as Workplace, Slack and Base­camp)
  • adopting continuous, feedback-based per­formance management that allows for goals to be reset regularly.

Globally there has been significant growth of digital HR systems and practices, with well over half of the companies surveyed (56 per cent) in the process of redesigning their HR pro­grams to leverage business and mobile tools.

Similarly, 51 per cent are in the process of redesigning their organisations for digital business models.

Some 33 per cent of the global respondents to the 2017 survey confirmed they already use some form of artificial intelligence technology to deliver HR solutions, and 41 per cent are actively building mobile apps to deliver HR servic­es. Sensors and social collaboration systems are also key.

However organisations continue to fall short when it comes to optimising the right data analytics. To make a real contribution, HR practitioners need the right insights and capabilities provided by data analytics.

Only 14 per cent of Australian respondents report that they have usable data (slightly ahead of the global average of 8 per cent), and only 11 per cent of Australian companies believing they have a good understanding of the talent fac­tors that drive performance (global average of 9 per cent).

The report highlighted the strength of organisational support for diversity and inclusion in Australia, with more than three in four business and HR leaders (77 per cent) saying diversity and inclusion was an important or very important issue. This ranked fourth in Australia’s top ten human capital trends, compared with a global ranking of ninth.

However, the data shows that Australian companies make talent acquisition less of a priority than many other countries (70 per cent compared to the global average of 81 per cent)

The 2017 survey is Deloitte’s largest and most extensive to date, with input from more than 10,400 businesses and HR leaders around the country, including some 197 in Aus­tralia. Twenty two per cent of respondents were from large companies (more than 10,000 employees), 29 per cent from medium sized companies (1,000-10,000), and 49 per cent from small companies (fewer than 1,000). Asia Pacific re­spondents accounted for 18% of respondents. Respondents were from a broad cross section of industries. Sixty three per cent of respondents were HR professionals, with other business executives accounting for 37 per cent.

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