Our Future

Figure 1: Concerns of HR Professionals for 2013

Figure 1: Concerns of HR Professionals for 2013

End of the year traditions appear in almost every culture.  In those cultures that the end of the year corresponds with the winter season, a new year not only represented the halfway point of winter, but a time of rebirth or renewal.  A festive meal, offering forgiveness, and an evening of celebration typify the transition from old to new.  Today, many of those traditions persist as we gather at parties and spend the last hours of the old year with friends and family before joyously welcoming the new year.

In the workplace, it is a time to take into account the last year and plan for the next.  In keeping with this idea, most organizations examine the last year and plan for the next.  As we plan for the future, I thought it would be interesting to examine what human resource professionals have on their minds.

Two recent surveys provide insight into what human resource professionals think about the future.

A recent HCS survey of 500 human resource professionals to make predictions about next year found that confidence continues to grow, but with confidence comes new concerns.  Most respondents (68%) agreed that 2013 should prove a better financial year.  Similarly, most (72%) indicated that greater resources will be available for human resource needs in 2013.  Figure 1 captures the highest rated concern issues.  Maximizing talent, leadership development, and properly utilizing human capital analytics scored the highest as concerns for next year.  The three responses relate closely to managing talent and closing the linkage between needs and resources.  The next cluster of responses included improving organizational culture and developing current resources.  These results likely coincide with the remaining effects of the economic downturn.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) recently released the results of the Challenges Facing HR Over the Next 10 Years survey. The survey included approximately 500 member responses and asked about future challenges, important investments, and tactics for talent management.  Not surprisingly, the survey finds that most human resource executives possess concerns over recruitment and retention as well as leadership development.  Moreover, most feel more strongly about both than they did this time last year.  More than half of respondents feel that retaining and rewarding the best employees (59%) and developing the next generation of corporate leaders (52%) will be the greatest challenges in the next ten years.   These results coincide with the assumption that as the economy comes back and more of the baby boomer generation managers move toward retirement, competition for the best candidates will intensify and developing internal leaders will become more critical.

The next group of responses coincide with the core focus on talent management with a little more than 33 percent predict that creating a corporate culture that attracts the best employees to the organization (36%), remaining competitive in the talent marketplace (34%), and finding employees with the increasingly specialized skills the organization needs (33%) will prove to be the biggest challenges.  When asked about areas for future investment, human resource professionals rated human capital investments as the most important by a margin of almost two to one over financial investments.  Among the human capital strategies utilized to retain talent, flexible work arrangements (40%) and a culture of trust, open communication and fairness (37%) scored the highest.  Offering a higher total rewards package than the competition and career advancement opportunities occupied the third and fourth spots.  It is interesting to note, that more than compensation and promotion opportunities, organizations reward employees with work-life flexibility and a positive work environment and culture.

What can we learn about the future from these two surveys?

  • The battle for talent might have been in a lull the last few years, but things are about to heat up.
  • Analytics are in the process of moving from useful to necessary to human capital management.
  • Leadership capability plays a key role in the success of an organization.
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