Monday 18 January 2021

Future of work top priority for HR leaders: Gartner

DUBAI, June 29, 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic has triggered a major shift in priorities among human resources (HR) leaders, with the ‘future of work’ becoming the number one priority, said leading research and advisory company Gartner in a new report.

A recent Gartner survey of 172 HR leaders found that 52% reported their organization’s business operations are continuing at a reduced level due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As part of the same survey, 40% of 146 respondents reported optimizing costs as the business priority that has changed the most since January 2020.

“Many organizations have entered the recovery phase and are focused on stabilizing the business and restarting activity,” said Mark Whittle, vice president of advisory in the Gartner HR practice. “HR leaders will play a critical role during this period. However, they continue to face uncertainty around several key issues, including equipping leaders to manage remote teams over the long haul, preserving company culture with a more remote workforce, and engaging workers in a cost-constrained environment.”

To address these issues and best support the business, HR leaders are adjusting their priorities for the remainder of 2020. Additional research found that the top five HR priorities for 2020 were:

•    Future of Work
•    Critical Skills and Competency Development
•    Org Design and Change Management
•    Employee Experience
•    Current and Future Leadership

To successfully navigate today’s new normal, CHROs and senior HR leaders must address each of these priorities:

1. Future of work

Leaders need to consider the predictions for what the future of work will look like and assess the likelihood of each trend impacting the organization.

“Business leaders are planning for entirely new scenarios,” said Brian Kropp, chief of research for the Gartner HR practice. “For many, if not all organizations, the 3-year strategic plan may be gone and planning is occurring quarterly. Perhaps most importantly, understanding the future of work is about understanding the permanent workplace shifts post-Covid.”

2. Critical skills and competency development

“According to a recent Gartner survey of 113 learning and development leaders, 71% said that more than 40% of their workforce has had to use new skills as a result of changes to work due to Covid-19,” said Mr. Whittle.

To adopt a more dynamic approach to managing shifting skills needs, HR leaders should focus on three actions:

•    Identify areas of the organization with significant changes in priorities and related changes in skill needs. Then break roles and projects that need support into individual skills and outcomes.
•    Upskill a select cohort of motivated and influential employees to provide personalized learning support to colleagues.
•    Foster internal movement across the organization by engaging employees to gauge their skills, goals, and points of confusion around organizational skill needs.

3. Organizational design and change management

Gartner research shows that successful change management outcomes require a shift from top down change led by senior leaders and communicated down to employees, to open source change where employees are involved in designing change processes. In fact, when organizations use an open source change strategy, the probability of change success increases by as much as 24 percentage points.

To achieve an open source change culture, HR needs to help managers and leaders create two-way dialogues that acknowledge the reality that change is difficult and then listen to employees’ reactions. Adopting open source change management can increase employee engagement by as much as 38 percentage points and intent to stay by as much as 46 percentage points.

4. Employee Experience

The pandemic and fallout has changed the focus of employee experience to sustaining the performance and engagement of a hybrid workforce – some employees working fully remote or partially remote and others at the workplace.

To gauge employee experience during the disruption, HR leaders must address issues such as organisational trust, commitment to co-workers and focusing on helping employees get the skills and tools and resources they need to be successful in this disruption and new normal, the report said.

5. Current and future leadership

Organizations need resilient leaders more than ever. To foster resilience, HR needs to support leaders at the personal, team and institutional levels: 

•    Personal: Identify leaders’ skills gaps and create leader-to-leader partnerships that give them opportunities to help each other by pairing those with complementary skills.
•    Team: In a remote work environment, employees are 3.5 times more likely to collaborate with five or more teams than when in the office. Leaders need to learn how to better lead during ambiguity, how to identify and secure needed resources for their teams, and how to better connect their teams and direct reports with others to develop skills and get more resources.
•    Institutional: HR needs to ensure performance management objectives reflect and reward leaders that efficiently connect teams to the right resources. Leaders must also be empowered and encouraged to dynamically adjust annual goals and review all workflows to align to the right priorities. – TradeArabia News Service


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