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Global HR Outlook Q2 2023

Without a doubt, the most talked about topic in global HR circles has rapidly become artificial intelligence (AI) and what that might mean for the future of human resources. It seems like in a blink of an eye, AI has become a core topic over the last few weeks, and we have seen a plethora of AI-related HR conferences and white papers appear on the scene. While it is very early days and impossible to predict exactly how the future of AI will shape companies, it is very possible that AI represents a second “shot in the arm” for the HR profession in the span of 3-5 years. Very recently, the COVID-19 pandemic thrust HR leaders and practitioners into the limelight due to its people-centric nature. While the implications of AI are far-reaching and not yet understood, we already know that the people and employee impact of AI will be massive.

I heard a great quote from a CHRO this morning: “Artificial Intelligence won’t take your job, but someone who knows how to use it probably will.” This certainly resonates and it is clear there is no time for HR leaders to spare in getting comfortable with this subject matter, given the rapidly exploding AI “arms race” that we are all hearing about now daily.

We continue to see the role of HR expand in other ways as well. In our daily conversations, we are talking to CHROs who feel they are wearing many different hats. A responsibility for spearheading environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) goals is becoming a busy part of the HR role in corporate headquarters. Increasingly ambitious ESG goals and investor appetite toward companies with this focus often place the CHRO in a position to take ownership of this topic. During times of crisis like the pandemic, the initial days of the war in Ukraine, and rising inflation, Boards are looking to the CHRO to lead and respond. Many of our clients feel like they have been in the spotlight since early 2020! In most organizations, the CHRO also leads discussions when it comes to policies, business continuity, and employee safety and productivity, culture, engagement, and often real estate/workplace related matters as well.

There is talk about a market shift to employers now having the upper hand as hiring HR talent appears to have slowed down across some locations. This isn’t necessarily true. Progressive CHROs and CEOs are continuing to compete for top HR talent who can really turn the dial and make a difference, regardless of sector or market. Specialist roles in Learning, OD, HR Transformation, and Total Rewards are in heavy demand. We are also seeing good activity in Talent Acquisition within specific locations and industry sectors.

On the HRBP/generalist front, many HR leaders we speak with are talking about how to keep HR relevant as a true commercial partner. As automation and AI continues to take hold, the role of the business partner must become more impactful. Being “strategic” doesn’t only involve developing the 3–5-year workforce plan, it means getting right into the heart of the business portfolio—hustling, gaining insights from the ground, and getting the actual work done. This approach shapes an agile strategy to help businesses thrive in an ever-changing and unpredictable landscape.


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