Canadian HR Reporter

March 2020 CAN

Canadian HR Reporter is the national journal of human resource management. It features the latest workplace news, HR best practices, employment law commentary and tools and tips for employers to get the most out of their workforce.

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N E W S 8 www.hrreporter.com Are CPOs prepared for the future of automation? With disruption on the horizon, employers require strong, visionary people leaders. Yet most CPOs are not prepared, finds John Dujay, in looking at a recent survey MOST chief people officers (CPOs) are not ready to face the demands of an automated future, according to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). While virtually all respondents (99 per cent) feel that CPOs must evolve, only 35 per cent believe they are ready to do so. The study, compiled by HR People + Strategy (SHRM's executive network of business and HR leaders) and consulting firm Willis Towers Watson, also found that only 35 per cent are receiving proper training to succeed. "With disruption on the horizon, organizations will require strong, visionary people leaders who can think through the people and talent strategy and work with management on the business strategy. Unfortunately, as our research shows, most CPOs are not prepared," says Suzanne McAndrew, isn't necessarily flowery, and it does really speak about some clear gaps in the future," says Anthony Ariganello, CEO of CPHR (Chartered Professionals in Human Resources) Canada in Vancouver. "We've got to do better. We've got to start working diligently to make sure that, with respect to human resources and also at the C-suite, people are aware that we're falling behind, and we need to get our game together, because the world is changing rapidly and we may not be ready for the next wave." For many HR professionals, part of the problem may stem from the fact that they have spent their careers exclusively in that world, which invokes the problem of myopia, says Lisa Sterling, chief people and culture officer at Ceridian in Minneapolis. "If you look at a lot of successful CHROs up to the last three to five years, many of them have grown up in human resources. They started as generalists and they've done different stints and facilitated different roles within the HR department; there's a far less number of them who have stepped outside of HR," she says. "That's why we are at this kind of intersection and inflection point where we have to pivot and make changes. You've got a lot of people who don't know how their company makes money; they don't truly understand the intersection of people and business strategy having the utmost relevance and importance of one another. And global head of talent at Willis Towers Watson and study co-author. "As the pace of innovation and technological change accelerates in the workplace, CPOs will need to reinvent themselves." The study, The Future Chief People Officer: Imagine, Invent, Ignite, was based on a survey of more than 520 executives in the C-suite, and included interviews and focus groups. It was conducted with leaders from North and South America, Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. 'Sobering report' The results do not paint a flattering picture of CPOs' level of expertise in an automated future and come as no surprise to one Canadian HR leader. "I thought it was a sobering report. It's rare that you will see a report nowadays where much of the wording they don't know how the business runs outside of HR." Technological challenges In addition to the problems faced by CPOs, companies are not moving forward fast enough toward automation: Only 42 per cent of respondents believe their organization's efforts can be categorized as positive, found the survey. Even more discouraging results came from focus groups in the study: While 36 per cent say they are considering automation as part of the future of their workforces, only 26 per cent say they possess the "technical acumen to evaluate new technologies." "While CPOs don't need to be technology experts, they must understand how changing technology can impact work and the workforce," says Ravin Jesuthasan, managing director at Willis Towers Watson and co-author of the study. "To prepare themselves for the future, CPOs should pursue the five imperatives our study "We need to get our game together, because the world is changing rapidly and we may not be ready for the next wave." Anthony Ariganello, CPHR Canada LOW LEVELS OF CONFIDENCE IN CPOS CPOs 36% CEOs 33% C-suite 35% Board of directors 42% Source: SHRM/Willis Towers Watson "Are today's CPOs prepared to respond to the future complexity of business and technology to effectively support their business?"

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