Employers not ready for digital disruption, where tech and people work side by side

Very few organisations are ready to manage a workforce where the latest technologies and people work side by side. Just 13 percent of UK companies are ready to respond to digital disruption and create “the organisation of the future”; despite 88 per cent believing this has become a priority. This is according to the 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends survey, which tracks the top trends shaping the agenda for HR and business leaders. However, while UK companies believe they are ill-prepared for the change brought by digital disruption, this has not stopped many of them from embracing disruptive technologies. 42 per cent report that they have adopted robotics, cognitive and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies within all or parts of their workforce. Another 42 per cent are running pilots in certain areas of their organisation. But only 16 per cent say they are ready to manage a workforce with people, robots and AI working side by side.

Anne-Marie Malley, UK human capital leader at Deloitte, explains: “UK organisations clearly see the importance of preparing for the workplace of the future.  Technology is advancing at an unprecedented rate and is rewriting the rules of work. But it’s not just an issue for HR.  The challenges mean that leaders right across the organisation must find new ways to motivate, manage and engage the 21st century workforce.”

Once the sole domain of HR, “talent acquisition” – the process of finding and hiring staff – now stands as one of the top concerns for 87 per cent of UK business leaders; and as it rises up the corporate agenda, companies are increasingly turning to technology to help with their recruitment. In the next three to five years almost half (45 per cent) are planning to use cognitive computing or AI in their recruitment processes, such as applicant screening.

Once recruited, companies say they are struggling to provide a good “employee experience” when it comes to culture, engagement, rewards and work offered.  Only 18 per cent describe their companies as ‘excellent’ at building a differentiated employee experience.

Looking to the future, 34 per cent of UK companies are planning on increasing their investment in HR over the next 12 months, with the majority of that investment expected to be targeted at staff career development of some form.

Malley concludes:  “HR and business leaders are facing a huge number of challenges from the digital age, but these aren’t going to disappear.  Technology will increasingly disrupt the world of work and companies need to be ready for it.  For HR specifically, this presents an enormous opportunity for the function to show leadership.  Right now though, less than 40 per cent of HR professionals rate their capabilities as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ overall.  If HR leaders want to have real influence in the new world of work, now is the time to step up.”

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