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Global HR Outlook Q3 2022

The market remains hot for HR hiring globally this quarter, despite economic uncertainty. While some hesitation has crept in, demand remains high despite the northern hemisphere seasonal summer slowdown. Other than the vibrant HR search market, the other ongoing theme is the discussion in HR circles around in-office vs. hybrid vs. remote/flexible working practices. While most companies have opted for a hybrid arrangement of some form, this issue continues to polarize employers and employees and remains a key influencing factor in talent considering or rejecting career opportunities.

We expect that search activity for the second half of the year will include a heavy focus on HR transformation and change. We are still seeing many organizations transforming HR operating models and reshaping these to adapt to the new environment. Key reasons for HR leaders transforming their operating models include:

  • A broader business transformation, which is often about a continued drive towards greater digitization
  • Pressure from boards and company leadership on the need for more data-driven decision-making and a lack of HR/People data being available
  • A desire to drive productivity and performance in HR through structural or workflow change
  • To improve employee experience

One early trend we are beginning to note is a return to HR/People Analytics hiring driven by a growing realization that progress in many HR teams is being slowed by a lack of data being captured, reported, and effectively leveraged. HR analytics also supports efforts to improve employee experience and well-being—two very high-profile areas these days.  For the same reason, we are also detecting a greater level of interest in hiring HR leadership (both HRBPs and specialists) with experience implementing a cloud-based HRIS solution, a fundamental building block in helping organizations link people data insights to workforce strategy and business goals.

In tandem, we are also noting the emergence of workforce strategy as a new, ‘hot’ HR leadership position. Titles are most often along the lines of “Head of Workforce Strategy” or “Head of Workforce Strategy and Analytics”. While workforce planning is not a new role, its emergence as a highly influential HR leadership position, reporting to the CHRO/CPO for the most part is. This position is broadly responsible for developing a roadmap and implementing a strategic plan for human capital data and insights, with a view towards raising the bar on how data can be leveraged to positively maximize business impact through people.

Management consulting firms or independent consultants have provided high-level advice at the strategic workforce level in the past. Bringing this capability in house and positioning it as a senior appointment will increasingly be part of the future HRLT. Today, talent management professionals are delivering the talent strategy. These efforts can be ‘turbo charged’ if underpinned by the insights and business impact that an elevated strategic workforce leader can potentially bring.

Finally, the ‘hottest’ area for hiring in HR leadership remains total rewards. This is due in part to a continuing acute talent shortage. Added to this is the fact that there are greater demands on this specialization than ever before. For example, in the past conventional wisdom was that for the largest, most sophisticated global organizations, the total rewards head would have a deep background in global compensation, including executive compensation. This stands true today. However, the greatest ‘pain point’ for many CEOs and CHROs today is employee benefits. Benefits, which encompasses ‘hot topics’ like well-being and flexible working in addition to the traditionally more complex domains such as medical insurance, can be seen as a more pivotal component of total rewards from a risk perspective. One CHRO recently described benefits to us as a ‘potential minefield’ while briefing us on a total rewards leadership search requiring as much or more benefits expertise versus compensation.

Another growing trend for the total rewards specialization is its tighter link with talent management, particularly regarding a company’s ability to effectively drive performance management. The talent management specialization has traditionally “owned” performance management. However, given the extent to which pay drives behaviors, rewards professionals now have equal or in some cases more ownership of the performance space. This has necessitated the two specializations needing to have a much tighter partnership than in the past. In fact, we are aware of a couple of organizations that are now exploring the potential of a combined talent and reward function. We expect that the above trends will continue, and we anticipate that this will also potentially mean we can look forward to an interesting evolution of the total rewards space in future.


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