10 HR leadership trends for 2015

An annual report has revealed some of the trends HR can expect to see in the coming months, and has suggested that the sector might be creating some of its own problems.

10 HR leadership trends for 2015
Deloitte recently unveiled its Global Human Capital Trends 2015 report, outlining the trends HR can expect to see – and handle – in the coming year. Authors of the report highlighted ten trends which are “reshaping the nature of work and the ways organisations approach talent management”.

Leadership: Why a perennial issue? 

According to the report, companies are struggling with leadership development at all levels, leading many employers to invest in new and accelerated models.

Creating excellent leaders remains highly important, ranking as the second biggest priority for HR in this year’s survey. However, while almost 90% of respondents cited it as either “important” or “very important”, the findings also suggested that organisations have made little or no progress since last year: the capability gap for developing leaders has widened in every global region.

Learning and development: Into the spotlight 

Companies will need to be actively exploring new approaches to learning and development as they confront increasing skills gaps, the report said.

The need to transform and accelerate corporate learning was this year’s third most important challenge to HR, with the number of companies rating Learning and Development (L&D) as “very important” tripling over the past year. But while the importance of the issue increased, HR’s readiness to handle it weakened – just 40% of respondents said that their organisation was prepared for L&D in 2015, compared to 75% last year.

Culture and engagement: The naked organization 

Organisations are continuing to recognise the need to focus on corporate culture and dramatically improving employee engagement as 2015 threatens to bring a crisis in engagement and retention.

Deloitte’s researchers found that this year, culture and engagement were rated the most important issue overall, replacing leadership as the top priority. This highlights the need for leaders to gain a clear understanding of their company’s culture, and re-examine every HR and talent program as a way to engage and empower their people.

Workforce on demand: Are you ready? 

All aspects of the workforce are being managed sophisticatedly, including the hourly, contingent and contract workforces within organisations.

Eighty per cent of respondents said workforce capability would be an important issue in 2015, indicating that the demand for skills will drive a trend towards greater use of hourly, contingent and contract workers. It is important that employers who choose this option have the right processes, policies and tools in place so that they can source, evaluate and reward non-traditional talent within their organisations.

Performance management: The secret ingredient 

Traditional performance management is being replaced with innovative performance solutions.

In today’s world of work, the need to rethink organisational management – including managing, evaluating and rewarding people – is one of the biggest necessities, according to Deloitte. Agile performance management has arrived, and will become a core component for this year’s focus on engagement, development and leadership.

Reinventing HR: An extreme makeover

HR is undergoing an extreme makeover to deliver greater business impact and drive innovation.

The need to reskill HR itself weighed in as the fourth biggest issue for 2015’s Human Capital management, but also showed little progress from last year.

HR’s performance was generally rated as low by both HR and business leaders. Business leaders’ rating of HR’s performance was 20% lower than HR leaders’, showing how important it is to accelerate HR’s ability to deliver value across the business.

The report also found that there is an increasing trend for CEOs to bring in non-HR professionals to fill the role of CHRO.

HR and people analytics: Stuck in neutral 

According to the report, too few organisations are actively implementing talent analytics capabilities to address complex requirements for business and talent.

In 2015, HR should make “serious investments” in leveraging data when it comes to making people decisions. People analytics – a strategy which has been evolving over the past several years – has the potential to change the way HR works. But according to Deloitte, HR departments and organisations appear to be slow in developing the capabilities to take full advantage of its potential.

People data everywhere: Bringing the outside in 

The report found that over the next year, many organisations are expected to expand their HR data strategies by harnessing and integrating third party data about their people from social media platforms.

External people data has created a new world of employee data outside of the corporate environment. The report’s authors wrote that “it is now urgent and valuable for companies to learn to view, manage, and take advantage of this data for better recruiting, hiring, retention, and leadership development”.

Simplification of work: The coming revolution 

In response to “information overload” and increasing system complexity, companies are predicted to simplify work environments and practices.

Last year’s report identified the “overwhelmed employee” as an emerging trend – this year, the proportion of respondents who regard this as being of high importance rose to 24%. The report said that the movement towards simplifying work will be a long-term undertaking, which is just at its inception. The authors said that this will be done in 2015 by implementing design thinking and overhauling the work environment to help employees focus and relieve stress.

We are entering an era of “doing less better” rather than “doing more with less”, the report said.

Machines as talent: Collaboration, not competition

Cognitive computing—the use of machines to read, analyze, speak, and make decisions—is impacting work at all levels. Some believe that many jobs will be eliminated. HR teams must think about how to help redesign jobs as we all work in cooperation with computers in almost every role.

The increasing presence of intelligent software is challenging organisations to rethink the way they work and the skills their employees need for success.

Cognitive computing – the use of machines to read, analyse, speak, and make decisions – is set to impact work at all levels. HR teams must think about how to help redesign jobs as employees in almost every role will eventually work with computers.

The report also had six “key findings”, which outline the changes HR will need to manage in 2015:
  • “Softer” areas such as culture and engagement, leadership, and development will continue to be urgent priorities.
  • Leadership and learning have dramatically increased in importance, but the capability gap is widening.
  • HR organisations and HR skills are failing to keep up with business needs.
  • HR technology systems are a growing market, but their promise may be largely unfulfilled.
  • Talent and people analytics are a high priority and a tremendous opportunity, but progress is slow.
  • Simplification is an emerging theme; HR is part of the problem.

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