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Future of Work Q4 2022

Why business success depends on healthy HR practices

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Debi O’Donovan

Director, Reward & Employee Benefits Association

Huge, ongoing business transformations are all around us — from products and services to workforce priorities.

During 2021 and 2022, REBA surveyed senior human resources professionals from medium to large — predominantly private sector — organisations to track the business and societal changes that are affecting their high-level decisions.

Transforming products and services

In 2021, the data indicated that enormous business transformations were underway and about to escalate. The majority of respondents were launching or redeveloping products and services driven by new technologies, different ways of working and striving to achieve environmental, social and governance (ESG) or other sustainable business targets.

Therefore, in our newest data insight report, ‘Business transformation needs HR transformation,’ produced in association with Mercer Marsh Benefits in November 2022 — it was not surprising to find that rapid business transformation has a major knock-on effect on HR strategies over the coming years.

In 2021, the data indicated that enormous business transformations were underway and about to escalate.

Prioritising HR transformation

By mid-2022, we found almost half (43%) of HR departments had made minor changes due to business transformation, but the days of minor changes are on the wane with just a quarter (25%) expecting to simply tinker around the edges in the near future.

The data indicates a ramping up of change — from a fifth (18%) which have made significant changes to nearly half (46%) of HR teams planning big changes. While the proportion going through a complete HR transformation will quadruple from one in twenty (5%) to one in five (18%) with plans to do so.

This sea change to how workforces — including employees, contractors and supply chains — are led, engaged with, recruited and developed is enormous and essential. Without it, organisations will not be able to complete the wider transformations they are after.

Planning for sustainable changes

There has been a refocusing on the employer value proposition or the employee experience of working for an organisation and trying to align it with the current or future purpose of the business. Our research shows that most employers already emphasise trying to achieve employee wellbeing and improving diversity, equity and inclusion.

In the future, the focus will be on aligning sustainability practices affecting employees (60% are planning this), working to align manager and line manager practices to corporate purpose (by 58%) and working to create greater alignment between talent strategies and purpose (54%). To achieve this, business leaders will need to invest in changing HR practices or risk undermining their planned business transformations.

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