“Danger gathers upon our path. We cannot afford—we have no right—to look back. We must look forward."—Winston Churchill

Many of the challenges faced by Human Resources prior to the COVID-19 pandemic have been amplified. We know from the near 1,300 worldwide HR leaders who took part in the KPMG 2020 HR pulse survey that the pandemic has exposed significant skill gaps, shifted priorities, and accelerated digital transformation.

In the next 12—24 months

3 in 10 will likely need to be reskilled
39 % will continue working remotely
Almost 2 in 10 will be made redundant

As a result, the priorities of the HR function have shifted.

47 %

taking steps to safeguard the experience and well-being of employees

38 %

helping leaders develop new management and leadership skills to support remote working

34 %

redefining/further enhancing the culture to emphasize digital mindset, virtual working, agility, etc.

The role of HR

While 88 percent of respondents agree that HR has played a leading role in their organization’s response to the impacts of COVID-19, a striking finding from the survey shows disagreement between CEOs and CHROs about the role of HR. About 60 percent of CEOs and executive vice presidents (EVPs) surveyed say that their organizations consider HR to be an “administrator” rather than a value driver; 74 percent of CHROs disagree with that statement.

What they both agree on though is the need for the HR function to completely reinvent and transform itself in order to respond more effectively to future disruption.

Close to 7 in 10 HR Executives - Infographic
CEOs and EVPs - Infographic

What is particularly interesting is how an elite performing group of HR organizations—we call them Pathfinders —emerged again this year—roughly 10 percent of the survey population. They have reacted differently across areas that are critical to the HR function, despite facing similar environmental and economic challenges as others.