How Can HR Leaders Accelerate Success?

Optimizing recruiting, recognition and data-driven analytics to accelerate post-pandemic performance


The COVID-19 crisis thrust HR leaders onto the front lines of ensuring worker and workplace safety. Now, as economic forecasts call for a return to real GDP growth by mid-year, CEOs are focused on strategies and initiatives to accelerate success in a world that is fundamentally different.

This report explores five topics for HR leaders to consider in formulating plans to ensure that their organizations will be well positioned to achieve sustainable growth.

Lessons from the Great Recession

A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth. Although the shape, nature and duration of the current recession are fundamentally different from those of the Great Recession of 2007-2009, it is helpful to explore why some companies recovered faster than others in the last recession. According to research published in the Harvard Business Review, the companies that bounced back the fastest were able to do so by combining offensive and defensive strategies. They enabled decentralized decision-making, reduced costs selectively by focusing on operational efficiency and made strategic investments in the future by investing in IT, marketing, R&D and new assets.


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Top C-Suite Challenges in 2021

After a year of uncertainty and business constriction during the pandemic, many CEOs have a more optimistic outlook for 2021. According to a survey of global CEOs by The Conference Board, 43% expect to return to revenue growth this year, exceeding 2019 levels. However, to achieve this growth, CEOs view their top internal challenges as accelerating digital transformation and improving innovation. A survey of mid-market CFOs by BDO found that 56% expect revenue increases in 2021, but a UHY mid-market survey cited talent recruitment as the most significant barrier to actualizing growth.

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Filling Skills & Succession Gaps

The greatest challenge for HR leaders in meeting CEO priorities is addressing critical skills and succession gaps. During the pandemic, CEO turnover remained low as boards sought stability. But different skills and abilities will be required for key C-Suite roles in order to accelerate innovation and the pace of recovery. And, despite continued high unemployment, filling critical skills gaps will require fundamentally different approaches to recruiting. Finally, the nature of the social contract with employees has changed, placing greater focus on employee career experiences in order to attract and retain top talent.

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Helping Managers Improve Performance

If there is one lesson to be learned from the pandemic, it’s that adversity brings out the best in us. Employers everywhere have become acutely aware of the degree to which employee perceptions and attitudes influence outcomes. But managers and employees need help in order to do their best. Unleashing the vast repository of discretionary effort that exists within your organization requires more than talking about putting people first. The ideas listed below address performance challenges that have always existed that are particularly important today in accelerating your organization’s bounceback.

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Enabling Data-Driven Talent Decisions

Digitalization is ranked as a priority by 87% of senior leaders, according to a survey by Gartner. Digital transformation is driving improvements in the way companies manage customer experiences, supply chain interactions, product development and manufacturing. HR organizations are admittedly behind the curve, with only 21% of HR leaders reporting that their current approaches are helping them adjust to the demands they are facing. The irony of this unfortunate reality is that an organization’s intellectual capital—its people—represents its most important asset. Listed below are a few of the steps you can utilize to enable more data-driven talent decisions. This topic will be explored in greater detail in our upcoming report, What Does Digital Transformation Mean for HR?


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