Predictions for 2019: The productivity imperative

Posted by David Mallon on November 27, 2018.

If there is one line that sums up the outlook for HR in 2019, it might be that backhanded blessing, “May you live in interesting times.” These are interesting times, indeed. The increasingly influential role of social capital in organizational success is compelling companies to reimagine their purpose and redefine what it means to be a good citizen, internally and externally. In this new social enterprise, more collaborative and productive relationships with employees, customers, and communities go hand in hand with the quest for revenue and profit.1

Addressing HR’s true value
The rise of the social enterprise is a global trend that positions HR at the center and gives greater weight and urgency to Net Promoter Scores (NPS2) for core HR services. My colleagues have calculated these scores in the course of our High-Impact research and discovered that the NPS for performance management is negative-603 and the NPS for rewards is negative-15.4 If these were customer scores, many company leaders would declare a state of emergency. The scores for L&D5 and talent acquisition6 are positive (19 and 15, respectively), but neither would be cause for celebration in the C-suite if they were in customer realm.

The need to support the emerging social enterprise and address the lack of enthusiasm with HR’s core services should give us all pause. When the demands on HR are greater than ever and the complexity and range of solutions are multiplying exponentially, HR professionals need to home in on the signal. We all need to tune into the core mission of HR and then make sure that every effort and investment serves it.

What’s your Net Productivity Score?
We at BersinTM, Deloitte Consulting LLP are convinced that HR’s core mission is productivity. When you strip away the noise, HR’s job is to enable and enhance the productivity of people. This goal serves all of HR’s stakeholders—the enterprise, the individual employee, and the community at large. Thus, the most important metric on the HR dashboard isn’t the net promoter score (even though it is a useful indicator), it’s the net productivity score. The question that determines the real value of HR is simply this:

Has what we’ve done today, this week, this month, and this year—the programs, the processes, the initiatives—resulted in a net addition or subtraction from individual and team productivity?

In the days to come, look out for seven new articles from Bersin in which our analysts will share their viewpoints on the most relevant and interesting developments to watch in 2019, including their outlook on HR’s role around the productivity imperative:

HR will raise productivity as its highest priority and most valuable output. Heeding the call from employees and executives alike, they will declare, “We are the people side of business. Our vocation is to improve the productivity of our workforces.”

Work redesign will be “job one” in raising productivity. Rethinking and simplifying work itself—with the liberal application of open sourcing, teams, and technology—will be the first step to a more productive workforce.

HR itself will become more work-centric. The operating model for HR is still too self-centered: the function needs to get out of its own way and into the business. To achieve this, HR will test and adopt new models that embed the function in the business and align it more closely with the strategic priorities of the enterprise it serves.

HR will enhance performance throughout the workplace. It will elevate and distribute the tools of performance management by providing the analytics employees need to improve their own performance and the analytics leaders need to improve the collective performance of their groups.

HR will bring in leading talent to elevate the overall productivity of the workforce. It will expand its talent acquisition capability using artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to find, evaluate, and place the best people in the right jobs. And it will do this faster—raising productivity in the hiring process.

HR will deliver productivity-boosting insights at the organizational level. It will use technologies, such as organizational network analysis, to lower the organizational obstacles to productivity and identify more effective interactions and pathways.

L&D will be embedded in the flow of work. HR will integrate learning and work by using real-time performance data as a trigger for the delivery of learning content tailored to the needs of the worker—at the point of work.

Employee rewards will ensure that productive people are rewarded and retained. HR will personalize rewards offerings and help employees access and manage them easily and with minimal distraction. Moreover, rewards offerings will do double duty by enhancing the employer brand and attracting new talent.

In the coming year, we will focus our research efforts on helping you raise the productivity of your employees. In doing so, we hope to help facilitate the ongoing shift to social enterprise and bolster the capabilities of our shared profession and the returns it generates for your company, and earn our keep, too. Have a happy, healthy, and productive new year!

David MallonDavid Mallon, is vice president and chief analyst at Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP.

1 2018 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends: The rise of the social enterprise, Deloitte Consulting LLP and Deloitte Insights, 2018,
2 NPS, which can range from -100 to 100, is most commonly used as a measure of customer loyalty. We have adapted it to measure the willingness of employees to recommend their company to people they care about.
3 Seven Top Findings for Enabling Performance in the Flow of Work, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP / Kathi Enderes, PhD, and Matt Deruntz, 2018.
4 Seven Top Findings for Redefining Total Rewards, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP / Pete DeBellis and Anna Steinhage, 2018.
5 Factors in Learning Organization Maturity: Designed Growth, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP / Dani Johnson and Elizabeth Barisik, 2017.
6 High-Impact Talent Acquisition survey, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP, 2017.

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