The future of HR: Lessons from the Pathfinders

Hinjewadi IT Park
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Pune, 11th October 2021: With industries globally grappling with the double disruption of technology and pandemic, the ways of working within organizations and HR function has shifted fundamentally. In mid-2020, after continuing to explore the Pathfinder concept it became apparent that Pathfinding HR organizations tended to be more positive about the future and were more likely to adopt leading technologies than their peers. 

They also responded more quickly to the pandemic than non-Pathfinding HR organizations. To build on the 2020 research, this year KPMG conducted in-depth interviews with 18 HR leaders from across the globe that are believed to showcase characteristics of Pathfinders to understand how they are navigating this double disruption. Our insights show that while many companies have reeled under the impact, pathfinding organizations have used the disruption as a catalyst for change, reimagining the workforce and the organization’s operating model in view of the future of work.

Some of the core findings from the research are –

o   The ‘S’ in ESG – Tackling head-on the evolving challenges around inclusion, diversity and equity (IDE) in the workforce, and understanding what this means for employee experience, culture, and the talent pool of the future Is more critical than ever

o   The ‘total workforce’ approach – Challenging existing approaches to talent management and embracing a new ’total workforce’ philosophy that fills talent gaps, going beyond the high-performers, and focusing on everyone for both current and future skill needs is proving to be a game changer for pathfinding organizations

o   Reimagining HR for the new world of work – Experimenting with new ways of working and emerging technologies to help employees adapt to a disrupted reality, while rethinking preconceived notions of how work gets done is one of the strongest ways to add value for business

o   The answer lies in Data – Questioning HR’s own strengths and opportunities and using data and analytics to explore how the function can work better with other business functions to shape the workforce of the future

Vishalli Dongrie, Partner & Head – People and Change, KPMG in India says, “ We have been pushed into an era of Future of Work. Certain organizations tended to be more positive and responded quickly to the pandemic through their pathfinding capabilities. Common among all are: tackling head-on the evolving challenges around Diversity and inclusion, challenging existing approaches to managing talent by going beyond high performers and focusing on everyone, and questioning own strengths and opportunities by exploring how the function can work better. There is a clear need for innovation at enterprise level, being less process driven and more experience driven to build a workplace that is sustainable, productive and futuristic for a constantly evolving workforce.”

With the newfound zeal to promote the ESG agenda, a general shift in the future of work, and the desire to “build back better,” there is hope that organizations are being transformed and building even greater resilience for the future. There is consensus among the HR leaders who participated in the interviews that an experimental approach is vital. Pathfinding is a way of reinventing the world of work and building the capability to survive and thrive into the future.

The traditional playbook is gone, and it’s time for HR leaders to chart the new way forward.