HR professionals ‘unprepared for the future’

by John Hilton09 Mar 2017
The Australian workplace is changing rapidly due to artificial intelligence, robotics and digital disruption.

The result is that Australian HR practitioners and senior executives risk losing their ability to manage their workforce cost-effectively, according to David Brown, leader of the Deloitte Human Capital Consulting Practice.
Citing the Australian cut of Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report, Rewriting the rules for the digital age, Brown said that 85% of Australian HR professionals say fostering a better employee experience is their most important priority. This was closely followed by building the organisation of the future (84%).

The research also showed 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 Brown.

“If employees are happy, a company will see better productivity, greater collaboration, less turnover and greater retention of corporate knowledge.

Brown added that 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.

Consequently, Australian companies must understand and elevate digital HR as a priority.

“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.

Human Capital top trends according to Australian HC Practitioners: ranked ‘important’ or ‘very important’

Australian %

(197 respondents)


Global average %

Employee experience



Organisation of the future



Careers and learning



Diversity and Inclusion



People analytics






Performance management



Talent acquisition



Digital HR



The augmented workforce



Robotics, cognitive computing and AI



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.

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

The study shows that in addition to embracing and understanding the speed of change, other tips for companies seeking to prepare for the orgnisation of the future that compainies 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.

Worldwide, 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 Brown.

Moreover, 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.
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