Harry Osle, managing director at The Hackett Group, says that
the influx of available technology, and that technology’s capabili-ties,
outpaced the actual productivity of business.
“That availability increased, but the productivity across in-dustries
stayed more or less flat,” said Osle. “One of the biggest
challenges HR faces is its ability to go beyond just making a tech-nology
‘swap out.’” If an organization replaces an older system,
they have the option to choose a technology that’s capable of much
more than the previous one.
“World-class organizations are saying, ‘Technology is a great
enabler for us to work smarter,’” said Osle. “So what they’re doing
is looking for technology that can drive some of their key require-ments,
but also technology that can go beyond those requirements
into driving fundamental change with respect to workforce plan-ning,
strategic planning, the way they utilize data to drive more
prescriptive and predictive analytics for their businesses. They’re
thinking of technology as a catalyst to work smarter.”
Not long ago, all that data – and its analysis – was relegated to
specialists on a standalone team. That’s all changed in recent years.
“The current generation of tools – whether they are HR plat-forms,
learning platforms, talent acquisition platforms – they’re
coming equipped with advanced analytics built in, which means
the ability of today’s average employee in the HR talent function
to do analytics is exponentially greater than that same employ-ee
just a couple years ago,” said Morrow. Most platforms now are
intuitive and user friendly, meaning minimal training can equip
nearly any employee with the ability to analyze critical data.
“Data and the technology to understand it has been democra-tized,”
“One of the things that differentiates the really high maturi-ty
companies is that they have a broad fluency across the entire
organization.” In those organizations, any HR professional is
comfortable with data and spreadsheets, and can bring people data
to business decisions.
“That will be a big theme in the next year – how we build broad
fluency around data,” said Morrow.
“Using predictive analytics and data for decision-making pur-poses
is something you hear a lot about, but I don’t think most
organizations have felt an impact yet,” said Bryan Benjamin, vice-president,
Organizational Performance with The Conference
Board of Canada. “For most organizations, it’s still emerging, but
I see it as a substantial trend moving forward that impacts every-thing
from hiring to day-to-day decisions on the job.”
WORKFORCE PLANNING REIMAGINED
The increase in the number of contingent workers and a great-er
emphasis on organizations working quickly and with agility is
having a big impact on workforce planning.
“HR leaders have to think through what it means to be an
employee, and who actually has to be an employee inside the
organization,” said Morrow. “That’s front and centre in every orga-nization
and it’s been talked about more this year than at any other
time in my career.”
At one time, workforce planning calculations involved just the
size of a workload and the number of full-time employees (FTEs)
needed to handle it.
“The conversation now considers the size of the workload, the
number of people to hire, the role that bots and automation can
play and the role of contingency workers,” said Morrow. “So if
you think about strategic workforce planning, the math used to
be one-dimensional and now it’s a combination of FTEs, auto-mation
A NEW BREED OF LEADERS
The changing makeup of the workforce and the evolving nature of
work are also prompting companies to reconsider how they devel-op
their leaders. Organizations are feeling increasing pressure to
be more nimble and agile, says Morrow.
“We don’t have the long lead-time we used to – to form a team,
create a charter, have meetings, and on and on and on,” he said.
A key asset, he says, is an organization’s ability to quickly assem-ble
– and disassemble – teams to tackle problems.
“So, what does it mean to be a leader in a world where teaming
is a key skill and one day you’re a leader and the next day you’re
a follower?” said Morrow. “What does it mean for talent manage-ment,
acquisition and performance management if someone is
moving from team to team?”
Nimble, temporary teams with shifting leaders complicates the
traditional leadership development strategy.
“The high potential model involves early identification of a lead-er,
putting them in a two-year to four-year development cycle,
giving them a couple rotational exercises, and then 10 years or 12
years down the road, they’re ready for a senior move,” said Morrow.
“But the world just doesn’t operate that way any more.”
“Leadership development is the number one or number two
focus for HR, year after year,” said Bersin, who adds that organiza-tions
need to build leaders sooner. “Millennials now make up more
than half of the workforce and they are ready to run companies
“HR AND ORGANIZATIONS
NEED TO FIND WAYS TO
FREE UP PEOPLE TO DO
THEIR HIGHEST VALUE
WORK, AS OPPOSED TO
– BILL MORROW
18 ❚ DECEMBER 2017 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL