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The 2020 lesson for HR: Think big and play the long game-KPMG HR Pulse survey

This year, COVID-19 shook the core paradigms of work and pushed organisations around the world to navigate an unprecedented time full of uncertainty and change. To minimise disruption and business impact, organisations looked towards HR to play a leading role with strategies to effectively manage the workforce with remote working becoming the norm. To understand how HR organisations around the world are responding to the crisis, KPMG conducted the 2020 HR pulse survey which captured the perspectives of almost 1,300 HR executives around the world on managing the continued uncertainties through insights into how HR is re-thinking in the areas of Workforce-Shaping, Purpose Driven Culture, Employee Experience, Data & Analytics, Enabling Technology and HR Organisation of the future.

Some key highlights of our findings are given below:

  •  95 per cent of CHROs feel that HR has played a leading role in their organisation’s response to the impacts of COVID-19
  • 62 percent of respondents say a skills shortage is preventing their organisation from keeping up with the pace of change
  • 60 per cent CHROs feel that their HR function needs to completely reinvent and transform itself
  • 54 percent respondents ranked investing in new learning and development platforms and virtual working technologies among top technology investment priorities
  • 39 per cent respondents reveal that their organisations will continue to work remotely
  • 38 per cent of HR respondents are helping leaders in their organisations develop new management and leadership skills to support remote working

Vishalli Dongrie, Partner & Head – People and Change, KPMG in India says, “The COVID-19 pandemic made people the number one priority for organisations around the world. As a result, HR emerged as a critical business partner and was brought to the fore-front to guide the organisation in managing its workforce, which faced a sudden and dramatic change in working circumstances. The impediments to physical connect made remote working a mandate, which challenged many pre-existing paradigms pertaining to driving workforce engagement and performance. Businesses around the world were compelled to become more digital to ensure their workforce remains connected and productive, even with the altered ways of working. To support business, HR prioritised workforce re-skilling and up-skilling, and transforming talent management for a virtually operational workforce. To help organisations maneuver an economic downturn, HR had to wear its strategic hat and partner in business decision-making, keeping people at the core and pivoting on evolving financial imperatives. Taking steps to ensure positive experience and well-being of employees, and enhancing the culture also became critical to HR for maintaining workforce productivity. After having successfully led the workforce through the crisis, it is now time for HR to focus on the long-run and to establish itself as a preeminent value driver for business. The changes brought on by the new reality requires HR to rethink its role in the organisation. HR functions need to bring lasting business value by building the workforce needed to compete in a digital future and driving performance across the enterprise by getting the most from people and technology. To drive success in the future, business requires the support of a transformed HR function- one that is more digital, is more integral to business than ever, that drives a culture of innovation, and enables newer ways of collaboration.”

 The pandemic has amplified many of the challenges already facing the organisations and has also exposed the need for workforce re-skilling, maintaining positive employee experiences and accelerating digital transformation. While HR has taken the center stage in guiding the organization towards managing the crisis effectively, there is a need for HR to re-invent itself to be able to add lasting business value by building the workforce needed to compete in a digital future.