Building critical skills and competencies in their workforces has been identified as the number one priority for the vast majority of HR leaders in 2019. This is closely followed by strengthening the current and future leadership bench and improving employee experience according to new research from Gartner.
Some 843 HR leaders were surveyed globally for the study – at the enterprise, business-unit and subfunction levels – which revealed 85 per cent of heads of learning and development reported that developing critical skills and competencies was a priority while 78 per cent of talent management leaders are prioritising building their leadership benches.
Meanwhile, more than half of all HR leaders agree that improving employee experience is a priority.
“The businesses that are successful today and, in the future, will be those that win when it comes to talent,” said Sari Wilde, managing vice president of Gartner’s HR practice. “This means helping employees build critical skills and developing employees into leaders, which is especially critical given that less than two-thirds of managers think their employees are able to keep pace with future skill needs.”
To deliver against these top three initiatives, the analyst firm is calling on heads of HR to develop a strategy that focuses on the following “key levers of improvement”:
Developing “connector managers” Ineffective managers are the single biggest problem in the workplace today with almost half of HR leaders (48 per cent) citing their organisation’s managers as not effectively developing employees. According to Gartner, most organisations yearn for “always on” managers, who commit to constant employee coaching and development. Connector managers are the most likely to improve employee performance by fostering meaningful connections among employees, teams and the organisation to develop an employee’s specific capabilities at the precise moment that employee is primed to learn. Gartner claims connector managers triple the likelihood that their direct reports will be high-performers and furthermore employee engagement will increase by up to 40 per cent.
Demand-driven succession management Among HR leaders, 47 per cent said their organisation struggles to develop effective leaders and 45 per cent said their succession management processes didn’t yield the right leaders at the right time. Adding to the complexity, most organisations expect more than two fifths of leadership roles to be significantly different within five years. Traditional succession planning assesses current roles and gaps in leadership supply. By switching to demand-driven planning, HR leaders can assess leadership needs that will enable the organisation to achieve strategic goals, not just fill potential future vacancies in current roles, said Gartner.
Employee experience Employees want the ease of their personal life, fuelled by digital technologies that enable seamless, effortless experiences, to be duplicated at work. To start delivering on this requires a change in focus for HR from just asking what employees want (or worse still, assuming what they want) to listening to what they need and determining what they really value, said Gartner. The company claims supporting what employees value increases employee performance by one fifth.
“Gartner highlights some important issues for today’s senior leaders. People will continue to be the differentiator in the world of business so it is encouraging to see that building critical skills and competencies is rightly such a high priority,” said Richard Chiumento, director of Rialto Consultancy.
“Many of these will be digital skills that support the organisation’s digital transformation programme and ensures it is fit for the future. But this must also extend to the senior level. Digital skills are among the least represented on the leadership bench and this situation must change if the alarming digital leadership void that exists in many companies is to be addressed.”