The simplification of work: What is HR’s role?

The simplification of work: What is HR's role?

Posted by Josh Bersin on June 30, 2015. Originally published on LinkedIn.

In our research during the Global Human Capital Trends 2015 project, we found that while more than two-thirds of the companies we talked with are dealing with “the overwhelmed employee,” a similar number told us that their work environment had become “highly complex” or “complex.” When we asked companies what they were doing about this, we found that almost one-third had some type of simplification program in process.

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Is IT a profession in trouble?

Why IT professionals feel left out

Is IT a profession in trouble? Why IT professionals feel left out

Posted by Josh Bersin on May 28, 2015. Originally published on LinkedIn.

The world of IT has changed dramatically in the last 20 years. Decades ago Information Technology (IT) was considered a creative and strategic profession. These individuals developed applications, integrated systems, architected data structures, and were responsible for many of the most strategic technologies in business.

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Leading in the new world of work: Deloitte’s 2015 Global Human Capital Trends

Leading in the new world of work: Deloitte’s 2015 Global Human Capital Trends

Posted by Josh Bersin on March 5, 2015

This week we officially launched one of the largest-ever longitudinal studies of talent trends and readiness around the world: Deloitte Human Capital Trends 2015. More than 3,300 companies from 106 countries participated, and the results are staggering. In this year’s report, we explore 10 major trends that emerged from our research, which reflect four major themes: leading, engaging, reinventing, and reimagining.

The bottom line is pretty simple: We are all living in a “New World of Work” — one that is always-on 24×7, operates at lightning speed, and in which the team takes precedence over the organization. When we enjoy our team and we operate well as a team, we thrive. When the leaders are weak or the team is not aligned, we feel overwhelmed and overworked.

Part of this new world is a flood of information, technology, and data. HR teams have the opportunity to help us simplify our lives, simplify their own programs, use data to make decisions, and innovate. Traditional practices like performance management are being left in the dust as we embrace agile, feedback-rich systems that let us talk to each other, set and reset goals, and collaborate more easily.

Part of this new world is the “continuous learning organization”— one where each of us can learn what we need to know, when we need it. This means companies should redesign the learning experience as they simplify HR.

A large team of us spent many months interviewing, surveying, and meeting with companies around the world to do this research. We were surprised at how hard HR teams are working to keep up — and how many of them feel behind. This is an exciting time for business and HR leaders, as the work equation has changed. We have to focus on engagement, empowerment, and environment — to make jobs enjoyable, achievable, and rewarding.

Here are the 10 big trends we identified this year, with some data on the priority of each. Please review our online data dashboard to look at specific data and detailed analysis in your industry or geography.

Fig 1: The Ten Global Trends Shaping Corporate Talent in 2015

Each of these trends is discussed in detail in the report, along with company capabilities, trends, leading practices, and examples of world-class solutions.

Top Findings:

1. Culture, engagement, and retention is now the No. 1 issue around the world. Eighty-seven percent of companies surveyed rate this a high-priority problem and 50 percent rate it urgent. Company readiness to deal with this issue has dropped by 43 percent year over year, and today approximately half the companies we surveyed believe they are unable to drive the desired culture in their organizations.

I’ve written extensively on this topic, and the big message is that engagement is now central to everything we do as managers and leaders. If we can’t build a company that attracts and inspires people, we will likely lose them to our competition. (Read The Simply Irresistible Organization for more on this topic.)

The research also points out the biggest contributors to engagement, and they vary by industry. As I discuss in the Simply Irresistible model, leadership, management practices, work flexibility, and learning opportunities are highly correlated with engagement and retention, and in retail, hospitality, and services, diversity is as well. Interestingly, the skills of HR are highly correlated with strong employee engagement — so all of these various trends are connected.

2. Gaps in the leadership pipeline remain an urgent issue, and there has been almost no progress from prior years. 87 percent of surveyed companies rate this important and 51 percent rate it urgent. Despite the fact that leadership development spending increased by 14 percent last year, only one-third of companies have programs focused on Millennials, and overall capability dropped by about 18 percent.

There are essentially “haves” and “have nots” in leadership — our assessment is that companies that continuously invest in modern (reengineered) leadership programs far outperform their peers. Companies at maturity Level 4 are spending three to four times as much as Level 1 maturity companies, and the gap remains large.

3. Corporate training and learning is now “in the spotlight.” The importance of learning has jumped from the No. 8 to the No. 3 issue, and capabilities to meet desired needs plummeted by more than 200 percent.

The training industry is in the middle of a renaissance, and companies should reengineer their employee learning experience to give people the equivalent of the on-demand, highly engaging materials (and access to experts) they can get on the public Internet. Building a culture of learning, creating a modern digital learning experience, and bringing experts to help teach is now critical to business success.

4. Performance management is now being reengineered at an accelerated rate. More than half the companies we surveyed are reengineering or have recently reengineered their performance practices. This is a radical trend: Performance management, goal setting, and ratings, or lack thereof, are at the center of the way we manage people. They define how we pay people, promote them, develop them, and move them.

After years of trying to build top-down, hierarchical, forced rankings to evaluate people, the world is shifting toward a feedback-centric, agile, strengths-based approach. The data prove that companies that modernize their performance management process see 20–30 percent higher engagement and dramatic improvements in retention. And performance goes up, too.

5. The skills of HR professionals are lagging behind at an accelerating rate. The data show that HR skills are the fourth highest issue (80 percent rate this important and 39 percent rate it urgent), and business leaders rate HR 20 percent lower than they rate themselves.

HR as a function rated itself a 1.65 on a 5.0 scale (a C- at best) and business leaders rated HR a 1.35 (a D+) — almost 20 percent lower. This is not for a lack of dedication and effort; it is likely a problem of skills and often the wrong people in these jobs. Many of today’s HR functions are not functioning well, and the problem may be the people, not the technology. Only 11 percent of companies have robust development programs for HR, and self-ratings for HR have barely budged in three years.

Our research also shows that nearly one-third of new CHROs are coming from the business, so there is now immense pressure to build what we call “Bold HR” — a function that can reinvent itself, start with a fresh sheet of paper, adopt technology as a tool (not a solution in itself), and boldly innovate and consult with business leaders.

6. People analytics seem to be stuck in neutral. Despite the fact that HR professionals all over the world are excited about Big Data and analytics (read The Geeks are Coming to HR for more on this topic), our research shows little to no progress in maturity since last year.

Vendors are offering new analytics tools like candy, but HR departments are generally still not able to use them because underlying infrastructure and data quality remain issues. The problem is not only replacing the technology (only 11 percent of our respondents have implemented full cloud technology!) but also making the multi-year investment to create a serious “people analytics” function.

7. Simplification is becoming the new mantra. Finally, as we looked at the 2014 trends, we realized that what was The Overwhelmed Employee in 2014 is now “The Need to Simplify Work” in 2015. Our research shows that more than half the companies we surveyed believe their work environment is “highly complex” and nearly half still suffer from the overwhelming complexity of the environment.

Complexity creates cost, reduces engagement, and hurts productivity. One of our mandates for HR in 2015 is to “think simple” and practice design thinking, as we describe in detail throughout the report.

2015: Time to Be Bold

Despite all of these challenges, the research shows tremendous innovation and progress in all 10 trends. We don’t mean to sound overly negative here — we see amazing new solutions in companies of all sizes, and the report details some inspiring examples of new strategies to deal with these problems.

The big issue is one of focus: In 2015, as the economy grows and Millennials take over companies, HR has to “be bold” and get serious about recreating its solutions, consulting with a closer relationship to the business, and leveraging data and technology for business solutions— not just “creating great service.”

I look forward to your feedback on this research. Please visit our online data visualization dashboard to view data in your industry and geography.

predictions for 2015


Josh Bersin Josh Bersin Josh Bersin is the founder and a principal of Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting LLP, a leading research and advisory firm focused on corporate leadership, talent, learning, and the intersection between work and life. Josh is a published author on Forbes, is a LinkedIn Influencer, has appeared on Bloomberg, NPR, and The Wall Street Journal, and speaks at industry conferences and to corporate HR departments around the world. You can contact Josh on twitter at @josh_bersin and follow him at Linkedin. Josh’s personal blog is at www.joshbersin.com.

Bringing connected learning into the corporate environment

Bringing connected learning into the corporate environment

Posted by Dr. Preeta M. Banerjee on February 20, 2015

Companies that can consistently attract, develop, and keep high performers will likely be those that lead us forward. One of the most effective ways companies can do this will be to offer prospective employees not just a salary, but a unique development opportunity. We foresee that managing and capitalizing on talent will be an integrated, firm-wide endeavor balancing business goals and individual personal development objectives. Technology’s role in this near-future environment will be important, better enabling senior management to accelerate the rate at which organizational capabilities are both developed and permanently instilled in an organization – transforming corporate learning as we now know it. As educational technology (ed-tech) providers continue to develop next-generation solutions, organizations should match their pace and become more engaged partners in the evolution of their corporate learning solutions and their employees’ careers.

Organizations across the U.S. spent $1,169 per learner, on average, on learning and development (L&D) initiatives in 2013.1 This figure varies by company size and industry. Technology companies, for example, spent $1,847 per learner, on average—one of the highest of any industry sector.2 Tech firms (like Motorola Solutions, Adobe, IBM, and Xerox) have made large investments for training their teams to evolve from product sellers to solution and industry experts.3 Not surprisingly, technology firms are also among the leaders designing programs specifically for use on mobile devices, with 19 percent of learning assets mobile-enabled.4 As a case in point, Xerox Learning is working to tailor and orchestrate training content targeted at the growing mobile workforce (1.3 billion worldwide by 20135). Xerox Learning works with m-learning devices (handheld communications tools such as mobile and smart phones, PDAs, MP3/MP4 players, and gaming devices) to assess value potential of mobile learning programs through a five-step process that encompasses assessment and planning, technology implementation, content delivery, support, and measurement.6

Traditionally when developing corporate learning programs, HR professionals are often tasked with developing a “corporate learning strategy” and then developing (or contracting) the appropriate infrastructure build-out, designing (or purchasing) the requisite content, and matching employees to content after the fact. With a move to “connected learning,” the employee and their interests lie at the center of the strategy, requiring a flexible model that changes with employees and the times. As Mizuko Ito (Professor in Residence at UC Irvine) describes, connected learning is socially embedded, interest-driven, and oriented toward expanding educational, economic, or political opportunity; it is realized when a person is able to pursue a personal interest or passion, and is in turn able to link this learning and interest to career success. In connected corporate learning, instructors, mentors, managers, on-the-job opportunities, and HR professionals support the learner upon whom the model is based, not vice versa.7

Investing in connected corporate learning requires senior management and leadership to answer different questions than have been traditionally posed. These questions focus on striking an effective balance between organizational and individual’s goals, and how that dictates how connected an organization’s learning offering should be. The spectrum of connections ranges from networking with various ecosystem players (learner, instructors, etc.) to integrating the learning journey from K–12 through higher education and corporate learning to investing in technology solutions that aggregate the currently disparate collection of data and functionality that composes the education ecosystem.

For example, connected corporate learning need not stop at existing employees but can and should extend to potential — and perhaps former — employees. In our vision of 2021, we picture transformed learning roles, including an education coordinator (EC) or a computerized virtual assistant that helps groom prospective candidates by providing relevant job-readiness skills. By sharing pre-approved student information with an EC, students and educators can partner with organizations to efficiently close any skills gaps. The EC can serve as a recruitment instrument, providing custom learning plans encompassing unique or proprietary content and virtual reality games, experiential learning exercises, and interactive opportunities with professionals within a student’s approved network.

An organization’s future learning solution will likely serve as more than a skill refresher and become a source of enduring competitive advantage. Connected corporate learning is an opportunity for organizations to work with ed-tech providers to build flexible corporate learning programs that allow for all three types of connectors (across ecosystem, across the lifetime learning journey, and across technological functionality).

To learn more about connected learning, register here for our Feb 25 webcast discussion and read our recent publication on Digital Education 2.0: From content to connections.


Dr. Preeta M. Banerjee Dr. Preeta M. Banerjee is a senior manager in Deloitte Services LP and heads cross-sector Technology, Media, and Telecommunications research. Acknowledgements: Richard Merchant, Karthik Ramachandran

1 Karen O’Leonard, The Corporate Learning Factbook 2014, Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting, January 2014
2 Karen O’Leonard, The Corporate Learning Factbook 2014, Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting, January 2014
3 Karen O’Leonard, The Corporate Learning Factbook 2014, Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting, January 2014
4 Karen O’Leonard, The Corporate Learning Factbook 2014, Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting, January 2014
5 Stacy K. Crook, Justin Jaffe, Raymond Boggs, Stephen D. Drake Rise of Mobility, IDC, Dec 2011
6 Xerox Learning Services, Mobile learning: the time is now, 2015 http://www.xerox.com/downloads/services/white-paper/mobile-learning.pdf
7 Banerjee, PM, Belson, G. Digital Ed 2.0, Deloitte Review, January 2015

Talent strategies for 2015: The world has changed

Talent Survey

Posted by Josh Bersin on January 09, 2015

This year, 2015, is shaping up to be a big year: low unemployment, low oil prices, many tech companies to go public, and growth expectations for most businesses.

While the business world expands, the world of talent has completely shifted.

This year our Talent and HR predictions for 2015 has some important new ideas to consider — in this article I will give you some highlights, and you can download the report here.

Top Line: Changes are Ahead

Our entire workplace has changed, and so has the way we attract, manage, and empower people. The three themes I have for the year are Engagement, Empowerment, and Environment. Engage people in our mission and strategy; empower and develop people to perform and thrive; create an environment of simplicity and productivity.

predictions for 2015

Thinking back over my 35 years as a working professional, I barely recognize what work is like today. I was joking with my children about how I used to go to work with a briefcase filled with papers; there were no computers, no voicemail, and only an office of people and a telephone to work with. We had a steno pool (people who typed letters for us), and I had an old-fashioned boss who sat in the corner office with his tie on and his jacket buttoned. He was really a wonderful manager, but it was all about “doing your job” and getting a good performance appraisal.

Today we work at home, in coffee shops, on airplanes, and often late at night. We interact with people all over the world easily, and we have tools and technologies at our fingertips to find information, write, communicate, and analyze data like never before. And thanks to the growth of cognitive computing technologies, we may all soon have thinking machines in our phones, machines that monitor where we are, what work to do, what customer problems to solve, and even what HR problems to address.

Much of this transition has been positive, but much has also been difficult. Many of us are “overwhelmed employees” and our research shows that employee engagement and retention is at an all-time low.While many people are still looking for work, more and more people are getting fed up with the 24/7 work environment around us, so they go to social websites like LinkedIn or Glassdoor, and jobs are offered to them.

The concepts of “integrated talent management” are rapidly changing, with many HR practices being reinvented. In fact I’d say that talent management as we’ve known it over the last 10 years is about to go away and be reinvented, with a focus on what I call Engagement, Experience, and Environment. (Read my latest article “Is Corporate Talent Management Dead?“ if you want more on that topic in particular.)

The 10 predictions we write about for 2015 cover topics from employee engagement to new technologies for HR, a whole new focus on culture, renewed strategies to develop leadership, and the need to revitalize HR and invest much more heavily in analytics. But overall the big trend is this: Almost everything we’ve done traditionally in HR has to be adjusted (or re-engineered). The younger, more mobile, more agile workforce and workplace we now live in demand new approaches: flexible work policies, more focus on empowerment and skills development, a more humane work environment, and both financial and workplace benefits that are locally relevant.

As we look at 2015, we see five fundamental shifts that dramatically impact corporate talent, leadership, and HR strategies.

1. Technology has removed the barrier between work and life.

Companies have to focus on culture, environment, and simplification.

We are working all the time, emails and messages are arriving 24/7, and information, conversations, and content are literally streaming at us wherever we go. The work “environment” we live in today is radically different: People work wherever they want, leading to a huge wave of open offices; over-work is a tremendous challenge, and people are not sure how to deal with the overwhelming amount of information they receive each day. Design thinking, simplification, and ease of use are the new mantras for corporate talent programs.

2. Employee engagement, culture, and leadership are lifeline issues.

Glassdoor data shows a split in companies. There is a huge segment of companies who are “highly engaged” and a similarly large number of companies whose employees are ”actively disengaged.” The highly engaged companies are attracting the best people, delivering greater customer service, and innovating better. These companies are focused on mission, culture, and leadership — and they understand that people are not “talent,: they are people — with their own personal needs and aspirations.

This focus on engagement has impacted everything we do, because ultimately employee engagement is all a business has. Companies have to rethink their coaching and development strategies, their career mobility strategies, and how they develop and select leaders. Today’s leader focuses on “building a highly engaged team” not just “delivering on business results.”

Unfortunately our research shows that the gaps in corporate leadership are wider than ever. Research by Deloitte and others (highlighted in the report) will show you how leadership development, assessment, and coaching has to be a top focus for 2015.

3. Learning, capabilities, and skills are the currency of success.

From both an individual and organizational standpoint, technical and professional capabilities are now the currency of success. If you can attract or develop better scientists, engineers, sales people, or functional experts, you will likely beat your competition. And once you attract these people, you must give them a compelling learning environment to stay current, as technology advances at an accelerating rate. L&D organizations and strategies have not kept up, and we are in an era where corporate learning is going through as much change as we witnessed in the early 2000s when e-learning hit the scene.

4. HR as a function is at a crossroads and must reinvent itself.

Underlying most of these issues is the need to reskill and re-energize HR. It’s interesting that the US organizations SHRM and HCI are now competing to sell HR certifications. The problem is not one of certification; it’s one of redefining what HR professionals do. Company after company I talk with is going through a restructure of their HR team, moving HR closer to the business, and reskilling generalists into finely tuned business consultants. I believe this is a decade-long transition taking place within the HR function.

5. Data is now integral to all decisions HR must make.

Finally, we are entering a talent world where people data is now central to every decision we make. Organizations that are investing in analytics teams, analytics tools, and analytics expertise are going to far outperform their peers. Who to hire, who to promote, how much to pay, how to develop, what next job to take — all these decisions are now “data enabled,” and we expect HR technology, which is becoming more integrated every day, to become more and more like “instrumentation of your organization”— giving you data to improve organizational performance every day.

Read our predictions and join me on our webinar on Friday, January 23, 2015, at 2PM EST. (Register Here.)

This is my 11th year writing the Bersin Predictions for the coming year, and I think the changes ahead are more transformational than ever before. I hope you find the report educational, inspiring, and helpful as you plan your year. I am thankful to the world community of talent and HR leaders I get to work with every day.

And as always I look forward to your comments and feedback. (Click here to download report.)

predictions for 2015


Josh Bersin Josh Bersin is a principal and founder of Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting LLP, delivering analytics, research and tools that employers use as a foundation for day-to-day decision making. He has worked with hundreds of companies to help them deliver high impact employee learning, leadership development and talent management

1 Global Human Capital Trends 2014: Engaging the 21st-century workforce, Deloitte Consulting LLP and Bersin By Deloitte, Deloitte University Press, April 2014.

Passion in need of a champion

The best workers will find their own way, but if you want your organization to thrive, supporting them has to be a priority

DUP825

Posted by John Hagel III on November 13, 2014

“I never ask for permission. I just do it.”

“I get restless often.”

“I want my work to make an impact on something important to society.”

“I have a series of mini-failures every day.”

“I like to know that what I’m doing matters to the company.”

“I don’t want to do anything that I can’t learn from.”

For an HR executive, these statements pose a challenge. How does your organization treat people who might make these statements or operate with these beliefs? Does your performance management system recognize or penalize them? Does management encourage this type of employee or view them with suspicion or perhaps, unwittingly—as is often the case—do the daily processes and policies of the organization subtly discourage these behaviors, wearing the employee down bit by bit or sending a message that they belong elsewhere?

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If traditional learning evaluation is dead, long live…what?

Corporate Learning

Posted by Josh Haims on July 16, 2014

When I discuss learning evaluation and how to measure the impact of investments made in development with business leaders, everyone seems to agree: How learning effectiveness is evaluated and communicated today is not working and should be completely rethought based on the transformation going on in corporate learning environments. Let’s talk about what’s happening — I’d like to get your thoughts as well.

Continue reading “If traditional learning evaluation is dead, long live…what?”

The Five Elements of a “Simply Irresistible” Organization

Launching Today at Bersin by Deloitte IMPACT 2014 Conference

The Five Elements of a Simply Irresistible Organization

Posted by Josh Bersin on April 1, 2014

New Deloitte Global Human Capital Research shows that organizations today must work hard to create a meaningful, humanistic work environment to drive engagement, performance, and a magnetic attraction in the market.

And this is good business. The Great Place to Work Institute has published studies which show that the “100 best places to work” outperformed the S&P 500 by over four-fold from 1990–2009 and there’s no reason to believe this won’t continue. (“The Great Workplace,” by Michael Burchell and Jennifer Robin.)

Continue reading “The Five Elements of a “Simply Irresistible” Organization”

Social Business: What It Can Mean for HR

Social Business: What It Can Mean for HR

Posted by Doug Palmer on September 19, 2013

The second annual Deloitte and MIT Sloan Management Review (MIT SMR) research study continues our exploration of the social business landscape and how organizations are changing how work gets done by embedding social capabilities into processes and workflows. Three-quarters of the HR professionals who participated in the research (vs. 70% for all respondents) believe social business is an opportunity to “fundamentally change the way we work.” Tellingly, however, HR’s usage of social business still trails other functions. Only 14% of respondents from HR reported their organization’s use of social business in HR to a great extent vs. 46% of marketing respondents and 31% of customer service respondents. We think this points to a real opportunity for HR, as we see many ways social business can be used to enhance primary HR functions.

The uses of social business in HR span internal areas such as learning and development and external areas such as recruiting and staffing. Over the past year, survey respondents overall reported increasing use of social business in two specific areas of HR: identifying expertise (17% reporting an increase) and managing talent (14% reporting an increase). HR respondents themselves reported that their department uses social business most often in recruiting/managing talent (39%).

Which uses of SB have increased within your organization within the last 12 months? (Respondents selected up to 3)

The somewhat broad uses of social business in HR can be broken down as follows:

  • Recruiting — A variety of social tools like LinkedIn and Twitter help companies find and attract top talent. Some companies, including Covance, which was interviewed for our study, leverage these tools to establish relationships with potential candidates throughout the hiring cycle, even during the earliest stages when candidates simply want to understand what it would be like to work for that company.
  • Hiring/Staffing — Not everyone has to be inside the organization. In the Open Talent Economy, the 2013 Human Capital Trends report authored by my Deloitte colleagues Andy Liakopoulos, Jeff Schwartz, and Lisa Barry, talent resides on a continuum ranging from full-time employees to open source communities that support a company’s business objectives.
  • Onboarding — Collaboration tools like Chatter and Yammer help get people acclimated and connected to others in the organization much faster, driving increased productivity for the organization. Gamification can also be used to educate new employees about the organization and engage them more fully.
  • Learning/Development — Some of these same social collaboration and gamification tools not only have implications for how a company structures and delivers learning, but also how employees access colleagues to get help and learn in a just-in-time way.
  • Performance Management — Companies are building tools that provide more real-time capability to capture employees’ contributions, connections, and reputations — and their impact — vs. only on a six-month or annual cycle.

Continue reading “Social Business: What It Can Mean for HR”