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Digital transformation happening to HR, not through HR

Most digital transformation programmes are falling short as HR fails to take a leading role thanks to lack of confidence, skills and preparedness

Digital transformation in HR

Organisations are not prioritising the workforce aspects of digital transformation and this is having a profound impact on their success. Culture, skills and people – cornerstones of successful transformation implementations – trail behind technology and processes when it comes to resources, investment and time spent on digital initiatives.

Only a third of the 200 HR leaders at companies employing more than 100 people surveyed by strategic resourcing business Capita Resourcing said culture and people have been a key focus in their transformation strategies up until now, and only 35% say skills have been prioritised.

This is not a surprise, though, when this same research shows that 76% of HR leaders believe HR has historically been an afterthought in digital transformation and only half are satisfied with their own involvement in digital transformation initiatives.

Barriers to digital leadership in HR

Some 84% of HR leaders would like to take more of a leadership role in transformation initiatives but many are held back by a lack of skills and confidence. A fifth cite a lack of leadership experience, whilst a similar number feel that a lack of time (19%) and a lack of senior support or sponsorship (18%) is preventing them from taking a central role. Two thirds say they are worried they are falling behind in their personal knowledge of technology and new ways of working.

Yet 86% predict HR practitioners with digital transformation leadership experience will be in high demand over the next five years. No wonder a third of HR professionals feel disengaged and frustrated.

“This lack of HR involvement can seriously undermine the organisation’s efforts to transform itself,” says Capita. Employee disengagement, a culture of fear and mistrust, reduced productivity and project delays and failure are all outcomes of HR’s lack of involvement.

Implications of not including HR in digital transformation

Only 15% of HR leaders consider their organisation to have reached a strategic level of transformation where they have ‘an overarching digital vision, multiple digital initiatives, an integrated digital culture, engaged employee base and an HR department operating as a workforce architect’. Meanwhile, 92% say their organisations have experienced difficulties in their transformation initiatives thus far.

The majority (85%) of HR practitioners believe it is important that skills are considered before, during and after the transformation process. Yet more than a third (36%) of HR leaders are experiencing difficulty in predicting the exact skills their organisation will require in the future.

Difficulties in transformation intitiatives

“HR leaders need to step up and work alongside their counterparts in IT to ensure that organisations take a holistic approach to transformation,” concludes Geoff Smith, executive director at Capita Resourcing.

28 November 2018

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