Global HR Outlook Q1 2018

2017 has been a vibrant year for HR executive search across all regions. As we look forward to 2018, we anticipate hiring will remain buoyant, with leading multinationals wanting HR to make a tangible, growing business contribution, and with HR leaders wanting to bring in HR talent who can ‘move the dial’. CHROs have been under increased pressure on performance in 2017 and we believe that if anything, this will amplify in 2018. There is an expectation that the HR function must create impact through driving a tight linkage between business objectives and HR outcomes. An ability to effectively execute with leaner teams is a key requirement for senior HR leadership searches. There is also a growing expectation that HR specialists, just like their generalist/HRBP peers, should have well developed business partnering skills, in addition to their specialist/CoE expertise.

As we speak with CHROs about their plans, we are hearing some new themes, in addition to some familiar ones. The most prominent new theme is Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its potential impact in the workplace. This is topical across all regions and something that HR leaders are thinking seriously about in granular and practical terms. AI is a very ‘real’ agenda item for multinationals across all regions, both outside and inside headquarters. A more familiar theme that remains topical for 2018 is that competition to attract top HR talent in emerging and rapid growth geographies continues to intensify. Progressive companies are working to attract and accommodate the career goals of top HR talent from countries with large and growing middle-class populations. This includes a preparedness to flex the location of roles to suit the individuals they are wishing to attract. Within mature markets, the same companies are also prioritizing the hiring and promoting of HR executives who have lived and worked internationally.

Diversity and Inclusion is still of great interest as a well-established but evolving topic. We are seeing a hunger from HR leaders to move Diversity beyond more traditional definitions, with some of the most progressive work continuing to revolve around Inclusion. There is also more C-suite interest than ever before forming around the intertwined topics of Diversity, Culture, The Employee Experience and Engagement.


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