Building critical skills is HR leaders’ priority for 2021

Building critical skills and competencies will be HR leaders’ number one priority next year, according to a new survey from Gartner.

Sixty-eight per cent of HR leaders in the 2021 HR Priorities Survey said this would be their top priority next year, followed by organisational design and change management (46%), current and future leadership bench (44%), the future of work (32%) and employee experience (28%).

Mark Whittle, vice president of advisory in the Gartner HR practice, said that following the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, HR leaders are now moving away from crisis management to focus on the aspects of the workplace that will strengthen their organisations.

This included having the right skills and competencies, building resilience and having a strong team of leaders.

Ranking their top business-level priorities for 2021, 65% of HR leaders selected improving operational excellence.

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Growing the business and executing business transformations were selected by 64% and 54% of respondents, respectively.

Fifty per cent of HR leaders said they would focus on optimising costs in 2021 – a 13% increase from last year.

Gartner recommended that companies take a dynamic approach to the reskilling and redeployment of talent, and that stakeholders work together find ways to develop new skills.

Thirty-seven percent of HR leaders said that their company’s managers aren’t equipped to lead change.

Whittle said: “HR leaders need to focus on future-forward work design that eliminates the work friction that frustrates employees today and allows employees to be responsive — in sync with customer needs, in a position to anticipate changes in those needs, and able to adapt their approach and activities accordingly.”

The survey was conducted from June through August 2020 on 800 human resources leaders across 60 countries.