Human Capital Trends 2014

Engaging the 21st-century workforce

The overwhelmed employee is the most significant HR challenge in Irish organisations.

The overwhelmed employee is the most pressing HR challenge in Irish organisations according to a new Deloitte report published today. The report also found that re-skilling HR teams, leadership, performance management, and retention and engagement are the top human capital challenges for Irish organisations.

As part of the report, Irish HR and business leaders were also asked to rate their organisation’s HR and talent programmes on a scale of excellent to underperforming. Just 3% of Irish respondents believed their programmes were excellent. 38% believe them to be good, while 43% rate them as adequate. 10% of respondents believe their organisation’s programmes are underperforming. 

The report, called Engaging the 21st Century Workforce: Human Capital Trends 2014 (Irish version), points to the fact that as Ireland moves away from recession, organisations are seeing a new workforce that is younger, demanding and more dynamic than ever. As a result organisations need to become more proactive in addressing the challenges employees face.

Commenting on the findings, Cormac Hughes, Human Capital Partner, Deloitte Ireland, said: “Similar to global counterparts, the survey findings indicate that a significant gap exists between the human capital challenges facing Irish organisations and their readiness to respond.  Given the radical shifts we are seeing in demographics and technology, applying existing methods to new and emerging challenges will not be enough to get the job done. The 21st century organisation is global, highly connected, and demanding. Organisations, and specifically HR leaders, need to better adapt if they want to attract and develop the right talent in today’s competitive marketplace.”

Top Irish trends

  1. The overwhelmed employee: The overwhelmed employee is the most significant human capital challenge for Irish organisations. Although this topped the list in Ireland, this came in 9th place at an EMEA level and 10th place globally, signifying a strategic issue that is of particular importance for Ireland.  Information overload and the 24/7 work environment are contributing to reduced productivity, reduced decision making and lower levels of engagement. To respond to this, Irish organisations need to look at ways to simplify the work environment by: publicising flexible work policies, making meetings productive, having open dialogue with their employees, introducing appropriate wellbeing policies and asking senior leaders to lead by example.
  2. Reskill the HR team: This is a significant priority for organisations in Ireland, EMEA and at a global level. With CEOs ranking talent as the second highest priority, there is increased pressure on HR to strategically partner with the business, drive innovation and deliver business impact. As a result this is transforming the HR skillset with business acumen, an in-depth understanding of the business and consulting skills fast becoming key requirements. Organisations need to invest in the professional development of their HR teams and re-examine the business partnering model to truly act as a business partner to their organisation.
  3. Develop leaders at all levels:  Leadership remains the number one talent issue facing organisations around the world. While this emerged as the third most important issue for Irish organisations, approximately 75% of Irish respondents rated this area as important or urgent. There is a need to identify high potentials earlier, bring younger leaders on board faster, develop leaders who can successfully perform at a global level, and keep senior leaders relevant and engaged for longer. In order to do this, organisations need to make sustained investments in new, innovative and accelerated leadership models.
  4. Performance management:  Performance management is the fourth most important issue for Irish respondents. Traditional performance management is becoming ineffective in today’s modern workplace. With the shift to more specialist/knowledge-related jobs, increased emphasis on softer skills and capabilities, and a more dynamic working environment, the traditional annual review and ranking system is no longer advancing strategic business priorities. As a result, performance management can often be seen as a barrier to motivation and performance. With evaluation cycles, ranking and directly linking performance to compensation no longer driving value, there is a shift towards a coaching and development model of performance management.
  5. Move beyond retention: Organisations agree that retention and engagement is vital, with a need for redefining engagement to align to personal, corporate and social purposes to inspire passion and motivation. There is a requirement for refocussing engagement and retention from ‘holding people here’ to ‘attracting and engaging’ people through measures that build commitment, provide an engaging work environment, and a culture of development and growth. This is a particularly tempting goal because, unlike so many aspects of human experience, it is objectively measureable. However the challenge is to link retention and engagement insights to business results. Many Irish organisations recognise the need and importance of revisiting retention and engagement strategies, but it may take some time before organisations are ready for this transformation.

“There’s no doubt that human capital strategies are now a major factor in business growth,” said Valerie Daunt, Director, Human Capital, Deloitte. “One of our biggest findings in this research is the fact that doing more is not enough. Today, companies have to manage people differently - creating an imperative to innovate, transform, and reengineer human capital practices. When you add to this the rapidly changing landscape of HR technologies, such as cloud and big data, and their impact on attracting, retaining and developing talent, it becomes clear that reskilling HR teams is arguably the most critical mission for organisations today.”

The Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends 2014 report identified critical trends shaping the human capital agenda which fall into three major categories: attracting and engaging; leading and developing; and transforming and reengineering the HR function. To read the report visit

About Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends 2014 report
The Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends 2014 report is one of the largest talent management surveys to-date, bringing together 15 years of research, incorporating the views of more than 2,500 business and HR leaders in 90 countries around the world.  40 Irish business and HR leaders took part in the survey.

To gain further insights into the report, including detailed information on specific countries or industries, visit to access the Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends Dashboard.

About Deloitte Ireland


Human Capital Trends 2014
Did you find this useful?