A Look into Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trend Report

Deloitte’s 5th annual Global Human Capital Trend report covers input from more than 10,400 business and HR leaders across 140 countries. I think it is by far one of the most legitimate reads for all HR practitioners and business leaders who are interested in gaining insights on driving business results through their people.

Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trend Report - survey demographics.
*2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends – Figure 10 Survey demographics

A Good Fit

I could very much resonate with Deloitte’s choice of this year’s report title i.e. “Rewriting the Rules for the Digital Age”.

Recently, I have attended a number of events and read many articles that had topics associated with the importance of businesses embracing digitalisation and the changing workforce of the 21st century. Some examples include the use of robotics replacing jobs in the future, running predictive instead of descriptive business analytics, increasingly complex reassignment of workers’ cross borders, the ‘gig’ economy etc.

The topics all had a very similar vibe to Deloitte’s emphasis on the need to change in order to conform to the new era.

Deloitte’s Top 10 2017 Human Capital Trends

Download Deloitte’s whitepaper, Rewriting the rules for the digital ageto read their very insightful views on the top 10 Human Capital Trends.

Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trend Report - top 10 human capital trends by importance.
*2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends – Figure 3. The 2017 trends by importance

For many of us who are interested to read the full report, we will all be more than self-sufficient to form our own opinions on which trends are the more important and relevant ones that cater to our own unique organisation’s demographics.

Having said that, my thoughts on the report are not on the top 10 trends themselves.

Uncertainty in defining new human capital strategies

Three years ago, I attended a seminar on HR Transformation. The seminar had a panel discussion around HR as a business partner, the board’s role in HR, and so on. Generally, the topics revolved around  how HR could add value to the business. Three years later, I met with one of the HR Directors who attended that same event at a networking session.

We had a discussion and, mid-way through, I asked him, “So, how did your transformation go?”

The HR Director, with a small shrug, said, “We never really got started…”

We had a chat about what happened and, in the end, we concluded that HR faces a lot of uncertainty in defining new human capital strategies if the key stakeholders of the business are not aligned with how much it would/could impact the bottom line of the business.

We can all say that it’s a very similar challenge to that of all other departments of an organisation when initiating new strategies. However, the general consensus is that most business leaders are already fully aware that human capital forms the basis of a successful business and could generate the long-term ability to differentiate their businesses.

Here’s some food for thought:

It is extremely common for the marketing function of a company to utilise analytics, such as  tracking the number of unique visitors to the website, analysing the number of click/open rates of emails, or analysing their prospects’ preferences, etc. However, for many years now, people analytics are still a novelty to the majority of businesses…

That’s the uncertainty and irony of it.

Asia Pacific – A very different world

The Deloitte report did provide a lot of brilliant insights on trends, challenges and opportunities for 2017 and beyond for HR and business leaders at a global level. However, if I am to be picky, I would prefer a more in-depth survey by respective region only. I believe the results would be very different, but I understand that the intention for Deloitte has always been from a more global perspective.  

The Human Capital strategy for one works very differently, especially in Asia Pacific, largely due to a very even mixture of a number of emerging and mature markets, diversity in languages, cultures and compliance requirements.

China alone, for instance, is already a big power house and has a very unique business culture that might define other priorities for human capital management strategy and priority.

Shift of mind-set

What Deloitte reported at the beginning is the key takeaway for me.

Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trend Report - the growing gap among technology, individuals, businesses and public policy.
*2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends – Figure 2. What is really happening

“The growing gap among technology, individuals, businesses and public policy, is now essential to effectively navigate the world of human capital. HR has a unique role to play: It can help leaders and organizations adapt to technology, help people adapt to new models of work and careers, and help the company as a whole adapt to and encourage changes in society, regulation, and public policy.”

It would take more than just HR to reimagine processes, talent and organisation practices. A shift of mind-set is required both internally within the organisation (i.e. business leaders and the current workforce population) and also externally (i.e. policy makers to act as a supporting role for organisations to successfully transit to the new era of the digital age).

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