Pathfinders are using innovation to navigate the new reality: The future of HR report.

  • 30% of the senior executives are willing to spend over 10% of their total revenue on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives and identify diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as the top concern.
  • New and emerging technologies are helping employees navigate the ‘double disruption’.
  • 79% of the CEOs are urging their workforce to innovate without worrying about the negative consequences.

Kuwait, December 08, 2021

Digitalization, combined with the ramifications of the COVID-19 crisis, is propelling the world to reimagine the future of work. While this double disruption, as The World Economic Forum calls it, forced many organizations to close shop and several others into a prolonged struggle to meet the growing demands of this global transition, there were some that used it as a catalyst to bring about changes that are/will be key in remodeling not only their future workforce but also workplace.

In The future of HR: Lessons from the Pathfinders report, we interviewed 18 HR leaders from all over the world and 4 from Kuwait to understand how ‘Pathfinding’ organizations — HR organizations that are using innovation to drive value — are navigating this double disruption and reshaping the workforce of future.

Speaking about the report, Zubair Patel, Partner and Head of People, KPMG in Kuwait, said, “Our people are the heart of everything we do. They inspire trust, deliver impact, and drive our growth. Our people’s strength and resilience have stood out more than ever in these uncertain times. They have adapted and collaborated to propel us forward, serve our clients and communities, and support each other through the challenges. During the pandemic, we saw an increased focus on the social elements of ESG, and topics such as diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) took center stage.

This kind of positive discussion indicates that businesses today are focused on social issues and the HR function is at the center of all this development. This report intends to understand how the HR function must evolve in the post-pandemic era and how HR leaders should be part of the boardroom. We would also like to thank the HR leaders from Kuwait who participated in this report and made this happen.”

Key Findings

Embracing the DEI-driven approach

3 out of 10 senior executives are leaning toward environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives — the ‘S’ of ESG in particular, with special focus on the challenges around diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) — and are planning to invest upward of 10% of their companies’ revenue on it over the next three years. The growing consensus among Pathfinding HRs is that diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is a potent value driver with regard to an organization and its culture, and leveraging DEI-related data and incorporating it in the strategy will help identify factors that boost performance and mitigate attrition.

Taking up the ‘total workforce’ approach

New-age HR functions are looking to empower employees to challenge any traditional/pre-existing approaches toward talent management. They are adopting the ‘total workforce’ philosophy to bridge any gaps in skill/talent and looking past just high performers, shifting their focus to every individual employee in terms of future skill requirements. CEOs are prioritizing employee experience by using performance management remodelling, digital enablement and skill development as it can directly influence customer experience and centricity.

Rethinking HR to reshape tomorrow’s workforce

8 out of 10 CEOs are encouraging their workforce to innovate regardless of the consequences. More than finding the perfect solution, Pathfinders are constantly experimenting and focused on finding out what works best to overcome the competitive disadvantages that may arise. Digital being the new normal, they are looking to redefine what ‘work’ really means and invent new/improved ways to support the socially distanced work environment.

Furthermore, organizations understand the importance of data/analytical insights and recognize that while evidence-based decision-making may be time consuming compared to the traditional methods, it certainly helps in devising actionable measures that help boost performance and are conducive to a brighter future for workforce.

Majid Makki, Director and Head of Management Consulting, added, “The pandemic has accelerated transformation across all departments in an organization and the HR function is not left behind. HR leaders of today are implementing data analytics to understand employee experience in an organization and make it better.

Today’s HR leaders understand that employee experience is directly proportional to customer experience. A Pathfinder HR function will embrace the opportunities presented by the COVID-19 disruption and evolve to become resilient toward any such changes in the future. Pathfinding HR organizations use a marketing-like approach to understand employees as consumers by using data to personalize and streamline their experiences and make sound evidence-based decisions related to the workforce.”

The way forward

The report concludes that HRs must understand that adaptability and sustainability are crucial to building the workforce of the future. Pathfinders recognize that disruptions will continue, and, for organizations to soldier through, identifying the changes in the landscape and adapting accordingly will be paramount. In essence, the ask of the uncertainty is for organizations to become more employee-centric and have a purpose-led culture buttressed by environmental, social and governance (ESG) values. HR functions must move past traditional methods and being mere ‘administrators’ — they must strive to solve people-based problems, improve employee experience and support their organizations’ business strategies to drive enterprise-level value. 


KPMG in Kuwait would like to thank all the HR leaders who participated in the survey and the interviews to make this insight possible. To read the full findings of The future of HR: Lessons from the Pathfinders, visit 

You can also follow @KPMG_Kuwait on LinkedIn and Twitter for updates and the conversation with #futureofHR2021

Notes to Editors: 

About The future of HR: Lessons from the Pathfinders

In the report, we interviewed 18 HR leaders from all over the world and four from Kuwait to understand how 'Pathfinding' organizations — HR organizations that are using innovation to drive value — are navigating this disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and reshaping the workforce of the future.

The future of HR: Lessons from the Pathfinders