Survey: With COVID-19, HR Role Requires Reinvention


By Maduabuchi Ubani

Four in 10 employees will continue to work remotely, findings from a survey by KPMG Nigeria has revealed.

According to the survey, a third of employees now require re-skilling or up-skilling to adjust to the new normal, while two-third of human resources (HR) executives believe their function must be reinvented.

It further anticipated that majority of organisations would see their workforces change ‘shape’ dramatically over the next two years, according to the nearly 1,300 HR executives who took part in the KPMG 2020 HR Pulse Survey in July/August.

To deal with the changes, more than two thirds of HR executives (69%) believe the HR function needs to completely reinvent and transform itself to respond more effectively.

“HR must swiftly transition from putting out the fires of the immediate impact of COVID-19 and its aftermath and switch to playing the long game of shaping the workforce of the future for their enterprises.

“But this switch requires new mindsets, skills and priorities,” Head of Global People and Change Center of Excellence, KPMG International, Robert Bolton said.

The survey further stated that lasting impacts, including the fact that nearly 40 per cent of employees would continue to work remotely and perhaps others in a hybrid model of attendance, means that a new reality has to be contended with.

“The pandemic has presented HR with a significant opportunity to transform not just the function, but the enterprise itself,” it added.

The survey revealed that more than three in 10 employees (35%) would need to be reskilled in the next two years.

Tellingly, talent risk is also top of mind for CEOs, rising eleven places as the largest threat to businesses according to the recently released KPMG 2020 CEO Outlook.

Continuing, the study findings showed that the priorities of the HR function reflect the enormous effects of COVID-19.

It listed the top-ranked initiatives to include ) taking steps to safeguard the experience and well-being of employees (47%); helping leaders develop new management and leadership skills to support remote working (38%); and redefining or further enhancing the culture to emphasise digital mindset, virtual working, and agility (34%).

An elite group of HR organizations, identified as ‘HR Pathfinders,’ emerged again this year— roughly 10 percent of the survey sample.

They reported stronger performance across several areas that are critical to the HR function.

The pathfinders were more confident that their organisation could attract and are more likely to retain and develop the talent needed to meet growth objectives (96% versus 81%).

Continuing that optimism, Pathfinders rate that they are better adapting to the new reality (46 percent versus 25 percent). They are also more likely to invest in leading technologies – focusing less on replacing core systems and more on artificial intelligence and custom app development.