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Press Release 2017 Human Capital Trends Report for South Africa 

Rewriting the rules for the digital age

JOHANNESBURG, March 01, 2017 — Driven by the ongoing digital revolution and demographic, political, and social forces, almost 90 percent of HR and business leaders around the world rate building the organisation of the future as their highest priority. In its 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report, “Rewriting the rules for the digital age,” Deloitte issues a call-to-action for companies to completely reconsider their organisational structure, talent and HR strategies to keep pace with digital disruption.
“Technology is advancing at an unprecedented rate and these innovations have completely transformed the way we live, work and communicate, both globally and here in South Africa” said Trevor Page, Director Human Capital at Deloitte Consulting.
With more than 10 000 HR and business leaders in 140 countries participating – 295 of them from South Africa – this is Deloitte’s largest and most extensive Global Human Capital Trends survey to date. The hallmark study – in its fifth year – reveals that leaders are turning to new organisation models, which highlight the networked nature of today’s world of work.
However, as business productivity often fails to keep pace with technological progress, Deloitte finds that HR is struggling to keep up, with only 35 percent of global HR professionals rating their capabilities as “good” or “excellent”. In South Africa, this is even lower at 31 percent.
“Technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), mobile platforms, sensors, and social collaboration systems have revolutionised the way we live, work, and communicate; and the pace is only accelerating,” said Page.
“This creates increased workplace stress for individuals as well as society as a whole. Research shows that employees and organisations are more ‘overwhelmed’ than ever.”
Apart from identifying the organisation of the future as the most important trend of 2017 (83 percent said it was very important/important), South African HR and business leaders also flagged employee experience (83 percent), talent acquisition (81 percent), careers and learning (81 percent), and diversity and inclusion (80 percent) as key issues. Other notable trends to consider are performance management (80 percent) and leadership (76 percent).
“The top four results for South Africa are broadly similar to the global results but also highlight particular themes of importance to South African businesses,” said Page.
Diversity and inclusion featured in the top five trends again this year for South Africa, demonstrating the need for urgent and more innovative approaches to managing this important aspect of life in the South African workplace and society as a whole.
The impact of digital technology, including AI, robotics, while not as high on South African business leaders’ radars as some of their global counterparts, still scored as significantly in the local findings, with 74 percent indicating they believe digital HR is important and 67 percent flagging the importance of the augmented workforce.
“While digital and related issues are not high priorities for South African business leaders, the report shows there’s growing awareness of their importance as factors that will play an increasingly influential role in the not-too-distant future,” Page said.
The report makes it clear that the world is changing at a rapid pace and employee needs are changing dramatically. Their working life needs include different types of working arrangements to match flexible and dynamic working styles for the digital age.
Research conducted during the drafting of the report found that collaborating as a network of teams is becoming increasingly important and the traditional organisational models with many layers of management, complex organisational structures, procedures and red-tape will increasingly hamper competitiveness in the disrupted future world of work.
Organisations will have to become more flexible and fluid, with a new breed of leaders who are able to make decisions and implement changes in a quick and efficient manner. In addition, the trends highlighting employee experience and talent acquisition talk directly to the need for a radical rethink of how companies engage with both existing employees and potential employees using smart technology. The employee experience trend this year includes both engagement and culture which research shows are key drivers of attracting, retaining and getting the best from particularly the millennial employees in the workplace.
Organisations should start demonstrating that they have the intention and purpose to give back to the community and to contribute to the society at large to a greater extent than in the past. The millennial generation in particular have a greater attraction and loyalty to companies that can demonstrate these factors.
South African organisations, both the public and private sector, face the joint challenges of improving the skills of their employees and enabling the workforce to become greater contributors to society. This will require significant investment and collaboration from all industry sectors of the economy particularly in HR development. Increasingly, companies will have to equip their employees with digital literacy skills in order to remain competitive.
“We recommend that companies be bold, embrace agile work methods and make the organisational shifts and changes necessary to meet the very disruptive challenges of the future. This boldness will allow these organisations to adapt and actually shape a future where people and their individual and collective skills will truly be a competitive advantage,” said Page.

Craig Atherfold
Group Account Director
+27 (0) 11 504-4000

Ipelegeng Thibedi
Deloitte & Touche
Senior Manager: External Comms
+27 (0) 11 304 -5618

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