CHROs' Global HR Trends for 2015

As the end of 2014 draws closer and as companies start to plan for next year, we’ve started to talk to CHROs about the direction of their businesses for 2015 and beyond. Below are six interesting trends that are on our radar as a result of these discussions.

1. The Efficiency Drive Continues

Over the past two or three years we have seen a very large number of multinationals going through global HR transformation, with others planning to start soon. Many of those who have completed the initial effort are still looking for opportunities to improve or tweak their model, given the fast pace of change within global economies and businesses. As a result, we have seen an increase in the scope and complexity of global {nolink}HR Operations{/nolink} and {nolink}Shared Services{/nolink} positions; with OD and Performance Management featuring heavily on a regional and enterprise-wide basis. This reflects a continued business demand for efficient and effective people processes. We expect to see an ongoing desire for new models or improvements in this area, with a hunger for people who are able to help bridge the gap between the regions and the global HQ. Noteworthy is that while we have seen a drop in the desire for expatriate HR talent in a number of geographies, we are seeing growth in the number of internationally experienced and commercially oriented HR leaders moving to headquarters to assist with harmonisation efforts of HR services on an international and global scale.

2. Refocus on The Employee Value Proposition

The employee value proposition is high on many HR agendas for this coming year. The aftermath of the 2008 recession has been an intense period of change, which for many companies has included restructuring, divestments, and/or heavy compliance and risk management projects. This has varied by industry to a certain extent. However, universally we have noted a growing awareness of the need to develop a stronger employee value proposition to drive higher levels of employee attraction and engagement — taking into account today’s business environment and the need to ensure a strong foundation for the future. We are hearing from many HR leaders that this is an area where they will be taking a ‘back to basics’ approach as their companies look to solidify their positions after years of almost constant change.

3. Less about Diversity and More about Inclusion

It’s good to see that the Diversity & Inclusion function is attracting some serious interest, with CHROs insisting that their company’s’ approach to D&I should be more strategic and meaningful on a global level. The most forward looking HR leaders seem to be very focused on the Inclusion aspect. Their intent is on achieving higher levels of inclusiveness for employees with different experiences, perspectives and points of view; in addition to the usual ‘obligatory’ treatment of the basic demographics such as ethnicity, sex and age. This can take shape differently across regions and countries, but with an expressed desire from CHROs that there is a clear global framework for arriving at contemporary and compelling solutions. We have also noted that there has been a definite upgrading recently in the seniority and capability of HR practitioners being selected to lead the D&I function for top multinationals.

4. Demand for Specialists

We have written much about this previously — and the ‘rise of the specialist’ is a trend that we continue to predict will feature heavily within global Human Resources in 2015. As the human capital agenda becomes larger and more complex, we are seeing that CHROs want the best possible advice from the specialist functions — and they are willing to pay top dollar for this. 2014 has seen a particular focus on Total Rewards; {nolink}HR Operations{/nolink} and {nolink}Shared Services{/nolink}; and OD/Talent. We are expecting more of the same in 2015. In addition, we are also seeing that for some of our most senior HR Business Partner/{nolink}HR Generalist{/nolink}searches, the CHRO is asking for specific specialist experience in the candidates’ backgrounds (including experience holding specialist, as well as Generalist titles). Resumes with specialist experience across a variety of industries/companies tend to hold particular appeal.

5. External Talent Acquisition Continues to Consolidate

We will continue to see companies build their in-house {nolink}Talent Acquisition{/nolink} functions next year. As with the past two or three years, this will often occur at the expense of broad based mid-market recruiting firms. For professional and executive positions, many HR leaders agree that externally commissioned searches will focus around:

  • Very senior leadership searches via top tier {nolink}Executive Search{/nolink} firms;
  • Specific mid-to-senior level highly specialised roles or positions where there are acute skill shortages. These will be done by specialist/niche search and recruitment firms;.
  • “RPO”. We are finding that companies are taking up RPO solutions where the roles are low level, or ‘commoditized’ and high volume. These can often be done most cost effectively externally via a good RPO provider. RPO is being reported as a very useful solution where arms and legs are short on the ground and where multiples of the same positions are required.

As tools such as LinkedIn begin to offer better CRM functionality, and as HR systems such as Workday offer an enhanced platform for {nolink}Talent Acquisition{/nolink}, we expect that the trend of searches moving in-house will continue — with the main exceptions continuing to be those above.

6. CHROs Evaluate the CEO

We are detecting a growing thoughtfulness around how CHROs are making their own career choices. Elite CHROs are becoming increasingly choosy about a company’s CEO — and are evaluating the CEO’s ‘HR friendliness’ as a key decision making criteria (and often as THE key consideration) as to whether they want to join — or stay with — a company. More than ever before, CHROs want to see that the CEO has the people agenda at the top of his list of priorities and there is a growing expectation that the CEO will ‘walk the talk’ on this. As the CHRO raises the bar on the CEO relationship, the growing stature and maturity of HR versus other key executive positions can be seen. For a very long time the CFO has been regarded as the ‘right hand person’ of the CEO. We are now seeing, that for many companies, the CHRO is just as much a CEO partner, if not more so. For the world’s leading Chief Human Resources Officers, it’s no longer about whether a seat at the table will be given — it’s about which particular seat is offered.

We will look forward to keeping you updated on these and other trends in the HR profession as we move into 2015.


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