Top priority for HR? Survey shows for ‘best in class’ organizations, it’s the future of work

Despite what many futurists are saying, one survey finds most organizations are not ready for the future of work – yet.

The global pandemic has had a significant impact on the future of work. One big trend many are dealing with is the rapid pivot to remote work and people leveraging technology in new and innovative ways. Another is that the preferences and expectations of employees are dramatically changing.

AI talent marketplace technology company Fuel50 recently asked HR leaders and employees from more than 200 organizations across the globe a series of questions to explore the top strategic HR priorities now and for the future across high-performing organizations. 

One key finding from their 2021 Global Talent Mobility Best Practice Researchreport is that “HR Best in Class” organizations are prioritizing the future of work. Whereas for the rest of organizations, the future of work didn’t make it into the top five.

Here is the breakdown of the five top strategic priorities for “HR Best in Class” companies: 

  1. The Future of Work (89 percent) 
  2. Career Pathing (84 percent)
  3. Employee Experience (83 percent)
  4. Diversity and Inclusion (83 percent) 
  5. Internal Mobility/Employee Reskilling/Leadership (78 percent)

Organizations in the sample that ranked as “HR Best in Class” had lower voluntary attrition, higher internal mobility, lower recruitment costs, fewer unfilled positions, higher employee productivity and increased training and development spending. They also outperformed organizations in business performance (i.e., they had higher revenue growth, total revenue, revenue per employee, percent of market share, net promoter score and sales growth year-over-year.) 

Organizations that did not meet the “HR Best in Class” criteria had different top strategic priorities: 

  1. Leadership (85 percent)
  2. Diversity and Inclusion (84 percent)
  3. Employee Experience (83 percent)
  4. Employee Reskilling (80 percent)
  5. Internal Mobility/Career Pathing (75 percent)

Another key finding from the report is that agile skills and project-based workforces are here to stay. As the research report points out, “Agility and resilience in the workforce are in hot demand right now. People are pivoting, upskilling and being redeployed into different parts of the business, so having an agile workforce that is skill-ready enough to be reassigned internally is something of incredible economic value.” 

According to Forbes, project-based work is growing in popularity because it has clear goals, milestones and deliverables, with defined start and end dates. “Projects or gigs may take hours, months or longer, with the work aligned to business needs and objectives, not specific roles. And the individuals brought together to work on projects could be permanent employees or freelancers.” 

Two findings from the research support this insight: 

  • Close to 70 percent of respondents are using project-based work for the purpose of employee development.
  • More than 50 percent of respondents said they either do this now or will implement this way of working within the next 12 months. 

Ultimately, HR teams and leaders have an important role to play in this new world of work. As David Perring, director of research at Fosway Group says, “Organizations achieve through their people. So, the opportunity to create higher-performing organizations is really at HR’s fingertips – if we choose to harness it.”