​Modern HR faces “multiple challenges” from new tech-savvy workforce

“A fundamentally different culture is required.”

Engaged employees, aligning talent supply with forecast business requirements, and achieving sustainable human resources (HR) departmental operational excellence through improved efficiency will be some of the key focus priorities for HR departments in the second half of the decade.

That’s according to an expert panel of industry leading HR speakers from Accenture, ANZ Bank, Telstra and Oracle, who discussed how HR departments can embrace digital disruption in the coming years.

While many organisations are now playing “catch-up” on how to best engage their human capital to deliver increasingly higher expectations of business performance, it appears that solving this issue has fallen in the laps of the HR directors.

Or perhaps more so their teams, who are increasingly tasked with using analytics to drive successful employee engagement, workforce optimisation, position management, and performance management outcomes.

Until recently, most HR directors were preparing plans to cope with business expansion in an era of chronic skills shortages.

Now, they are being asked to develop a workforce, while reducing costs and ideally without losing valuable talent in the process.

Chief executive offers and finance departments are not blind to the challenge but they do expect HR to be confident, responsive and realistic about the hard decisions they are going to have to make.

“We are right in the midst of the technology disruption,” says Ilona Charles, Executive Director, Human Resources, Telstra.

“It is not enough to continue to just be a telecommunications company anymore, customers expect more. Our aim is to be a world class technology company.

“Customers want to be able to access information anytime, anywhere. Businesses want technology solutions that include cloud, multi-technology mix, e-commerce and customer analytics not just a telephone.

“Customer behaviour and expectations more than anything else mean we need to be constantly innovating, we need to be agile and responsive and we need to move into new growth areas to ensure we have a sustainable business model into the future.

“A fundamentally different culture is required.

“As customers access information and products in their own time on their own terms, we will need more skills in digital innovation, solution selling and our people will need to understand our customers and know how to design products that meet their needs, sell solutions and provide exceptional customer service no matter what the channel.”

Charles says the industry will need new capabilities in areas such as e-health, as well as global mindset and leaders who can motivate, encourage and provide people with the autonomy and accountability to get on with delivering to customers.

Business rethink

At the same time, organisations are having to rethink the HR function as digital technologies are changing every aspect of how a company engages with its workforce.

To embrace these changes and create real business value, HR organisations increasingly need a modern HR and talent strategy that can meet ever-increasing employee expectations.

“The push to go digital is amplifying the need for humans and machines to do more, together,” adds Andrew Woolf, Managing Director - Financial Services, Human Capital, Accenture.

“Advances in natural interfaces, wearable devices, and smart machines will present new opportunities for companies to empower their workers through technology.

“This will also surface new challenges in managing a collaborative workforce composed of both people and machines.

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