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The 4 Most Urgent Business Issues Are People Issues

Leadership. Retention and engagement. Reskilling HR. Talent acquisition and access.
Of all the critical issues faced by business and HR leaders today, those four are the most urgent, according to a recent survey by Deloitte Consulting LLP and Bersin by Deloitte. (You can read more about the survey in the report, “Global Human Capital Trends 2014.”)

1. Leadership
The need for strong leadership is, of course, a perennial challenge. But the report makes it clear—this challenge is accelerating “at all levels, in all geographies, and across all functional areas.” The reasons? The rapid pace at which today’s businesses move and change. Globalization. The speed and magnitude of technological change. The list goes on.
2. Employee Retention and Engagement
These issues have never been so prominent (among business leaders or in the media) as they are today. Unfortunately, as the Deloitte report points out, these issues have no clear owner in most organizations, neither within HR nor within the business at large. This creates a dangerous potential for inertia. “Companies should redefine their engagement strategy to move from keeping people to attracting them and creating a passionate compassionate place to work,” the report states.
3. Reskilling of HR
For many of us in HR, this is the issue that hits closest to home. After all, we’ve been working attentively for the past decade or so on transitioning from a largely administrative function to a more strategic one. And the Deloitte report acknowledges this to some degree: “… the HR and talent functions are in the midst of a transformation.” But then it goes on to say: “HR is not making the grade as companies move away from HR as people administration to a focus on people performance. An essential part of this change is the upskilling, reorganization, and transformation of HR and its relationship with business leaders and issues.”
Clearly our internal transformation isn’t complete. We must continue to strengthen our role as a strategic partner to senior and functional leaders. We can do this, in part, by advancing our methods of gathering, analyzing and sharing actionable people data. And we can improve our recruiting and hiring practices so they foster a better quality of candidates and new hires. And we can further develop our abilities to drive passion, engagement and innovation among our workers.
4. Talent Acquisition and Access
As a growing number of analysts have advised, many of our companies will not face a shortage of workers in the next several years. What we will face is a shortage of the right workers—people possess the skills, mindsets, behaviors and goals that truly are in line with our organizations’ needs. Our success depends upon our ability to find these people efficiently. “Tools such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and others are changing recruiting into a strategic function focused on marketing, branding, and new tools and technologies,” the Deloitte report declares. Of course, using the tools to find the right talent is just the beginning. Then we need to develop them and retain them for the long term. And these challenges bring us right back to the three urgent issues covered above.
It’s no coincidence that people issues are our four most urgent business issues—or that these issues are so deeply intertwined. After all, our businesses are built upon our people.