Changes driven by advanced technologies and shifting workforces are creating unprecedented opportunities for transforming the workplace. At the same time, the very nature of the relationship between a business and its workforce is changing. Old, top-down management paradigms are fading away. Teamwork, mobility, innovation, and inclusion are taking center stage, along with redefining work with creative applications of technology.
The last three years of our Global Human Capital Trends report have shown little improvement when it comes to the capabilities of the HR team. More than one-half of those surveyed, 56 percent, say that HR is “merely adequate” or, worse, “just getting by” when it comes to capabilities. A third are considered “good,” and a few companies are on the opposite fringes of excellent and underperforming.
New focal points for HR capabilities
Being good at core HR skills is no longer enough to survive in today’s fast-changing business environment. HR should focus on the following three core areas in the year ahead:
- HR must lead digital transformation. Human resources is typically charged with improving the digital acumen and training of the wider workforce, and at the same time the department is left out of the training. That disconnect can no longer happen. A research study by the U.K.-based learning company, Avado, found that just 23 percent of HR teams receive digital training.
One obvious place to start establishing business credentials is for HR to ramp up people and data analytics skills. In our recent industry study, High Impact HR, one cornerstone to being a high-performing organization clearly is leading digital transformation—not waiting for it to happen. But organizations need to remember one key point: The true power of new digital technologies stems from an organization’s ability to integrate them into the work and to transform the ways in which people interact and create value for the business.
- HR must master agility. As the business world moves away from rigid hierarchies and silos, so must HR. Silos within HR itself must break down to allow for a fluid approach to organizational opportunities and to support overall capability development within HR. This means learning how to reorganize the department to meet future challenges.
In some cases, this could mean realignment as well as cross-pollination and training of HR talent. If HR is doing its job, this agile movement will mean lending HR resources to cross-functional teams that are assigned to solve specific business or workforce challenges.
- HR will need new talent with baseline business capabilities. Underscoring the previous point, people analytics skills have proven to be enormously important across HR. While HR teams have traditionally hired candidates with strong workplace values, business ethics, and high potential, they must also place an emphasis on agility and demonstrated analytics skills. HR must find talent who have the skills to succeed in the current environment and drive the department forward.
Building HR capabilities must focus on sustaining the skills needed for success. HR teams must also put those skills to work, collaborating with peers in the business to give their companies a competitive advantage.
Every day from January 16 through January 26, Bersin will be sharing perspectives on the most timely, relevant, and interesting developments for HR professionals to watch in 2018. Check back every day, or visit bersin.com on January 29 for a consolidated report with all of the predictions.
 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends: Rewriting the rules for the digital age, Deloitte Consulting LLP and Deloitte University Press, 2017, https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/human-capital/articles/introduction-human-capital-trends.html; Global Human Capital Trends 2016: The new organization—Different by design, Deloitte Consulting LLP and Deloitte University Press, 2016, http://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/HumanCapital/gx-dup-global-human-capital-trends-2016.pdf; and Global Human Capital Trends 2015: Leading in the new world of work, Deloitte Consulting LLP and Deloitte University Press, 2015, https://www2.deloitte.com/au/en/pages/human-capital/articles/global-human-capital-trends-2015-leading-new-world-work.html.
 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends: Rewriting the rules for the digital age, Deloitte Consulting LLP and Deloitte University Press, 2017, https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/human-capital/articles/introduction-human-capital-trends.html.
 “Why is digital training still failing businesses today?” Avado / Charlie Bragg, March 9, 2017, https://blog.avadolearning.com/why-is-digital-training-still-failing-businesses-today.
 High-Impact HR, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP / Jeff Mike, 2017.
 Strategy, Not Technology, Drives Digital Transformation, MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte University Press / Gerald C. Kane, Doug Palmer, Anh Nguyen Phillips, David Kiron, and Natasha Buckley, July 2015, https://sloanreview.mit.edu/projects/strategy-drives-digital-transformation/.