Human Capital Trends

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Australian HR professionals unprepared for the future

Only 9% of Australian companies understand how to build a future-ready organisation. Companies must rewrite the rules, or risk losing the game.

9 March 2017: Given that the Australian workplace is being revolutionised by artificial intelligence, robotics and digital disruption, Australian HR practitioners and senior executives are in danger of losing their ability to manage their workforce cost-effectively according to David Brown, Leader of the Deloitte Human Capital Consulting Practice.

Reviewing the Australian cut of Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report, Rewriting the rules for the digital age, Mr Brown revealed that 85% 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%).

The data shows that only 9% of Australian companies say they understand how to build a future-ready organisation, even less prepared than global respondents (11%).

“At present 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,” said Mr Brown. “If employees are happy, a company will see better productivity, greater collaboration, less turnover and greater retention of corporate knowledge.

“But digital disruption is affecting business models, work practices and staff lifestyles, and effective management of this change will be critical to business growth in the short term, so Australian companies must understand and elevate digital HR as a priority,” he said.

“There is a significant danger 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,” he said.

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

Top tips for 2017: embrace the speed of change

“Significant change presents opportunities: the opportunity for HR practitioners to play a key role in driving the agility that keeps businesses competitive,” said Mr Brown.

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

  • making talent mobility a core value and 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) and
  • adopting continuous, feedback-based performance management that allows for goals to be reset regularly.

Globally the industry has seen significant growth of digital HR systems and practices: well over half of the companies surveyed (56%) are in the process of redesigning their HR programs to leverage business and mobile tools. Similarly 51% are in the process of redesigning their organisations for digital business models.

“Technology, both in business generally and specifically within HR operations, is advancing at an unprecedented rate and there has been an explosion in artificial intelligence (AI), mobile platforms, sensors and social collaboration systems that are revolutionising the way we manage the workforce,” said Mr Brown.

Some 33% of the global respondents to the 2017 survey have confirmed that they are already using some form of artificial intelligence technology to deliver HR solutions, and 41% are actively building mobile apps to deliver HR services.

Smart decisions based on the right data

Mr Brown warns that organisations continue to fall short in optimising the right data analytics. “To make a real contribution, HR practitioners need the right insights and capabilities provided by data analytics.”

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

Australia known globally as making diversity a priority

The report has highlighted the strength of organisational support for diversity and inclusion in Australia. More than three in four business and HR leaders (77%) said diversity and inclusion was an important or very important issue, ranking it as 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% compared to the global average of 81%). 

About the 2017 Human Capital Trends Survey

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. 22% of respondents were from large companies (more than 10,000 employees), 29% from medium sized companies (1,000-10,000), and 49% from small companies (fewer than 1,000). Asia Pacific respondents accounted for 18% of respondents. Respondents were from a broad cross section of industries. 63% of respondents were HR professionals, with other business executives accounting for 37%.

For further information

View the full 2017 Deloitte Human Capital Trends report here.

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Karina Randall

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