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Deloitte's ‘2024 Global Human Capital Trends’ Report Identifies Trust And Human Sustainability As Top Issues

Deloitte’s The Global Human Capital Trends 2024 report, “Thriving Beyond Boundaries: Human Performance in a Boundaryless World,” identifies key trends that showcase how a combination of business and human outcomes play a role in organisational success.

The 2024 report focuses on the world in which we’re operating, where work is no longer defined by jobs, the workplace is no longer a specific place, many workers are no longer traditional employees, and human resources is no longer a siloed function. The research points to how prioritising human performance can help organisations thrive by making the leap into a boundaryless future.

The trends identified are human sustainability, beyond productivity, transparency paradox, imagination deficit, digital playground, workplace microcultures, boundaryless HR and leadership.

This year’s analysis also reveals that organisations making meaningful progress on these key issues are nearly twice as likely to achieve desired business and human outcomes.

The case for human sustainability

When people thrive, business thrives: The case for human sustainability— the degree to which an organisation creates value for people as human beings, leaving them with greater well-being, employability and equity — drives better outcomes for people and businesses. The interaction of these outcomes leads to human performance, a measure that reflects the expectations of today’s workers and the rapidly shifting marketplace.

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• While 89% of executives say their organisation is advancing human sustainability in some capacity, only 41% of workers say the same.

• Less than half (43%) of workers say their organisations have left them better off than when they started. Workers identified increasing work stress and the threat of technology taking over jobs as the top challenges to organisations embracing human sustainability.

• 78% of New Zealand and Australian respondents believe that human sustainability is critically or very important, compared to 76% globally.

• 80% of New Zealand and Australian responses see an organisation being successful if it provides value for people as human beings.

“The report shows that organisations that bridge the ‘knowing vs doing’ gap are nearly twice as likely to achieve desired business outcomes and twice as likely to achieve positive human outcomes,” says Deloitte New Zealand Partner, Naila Naseem.

“To achieve human sustainability, organisations must shift their focus from measuring how much people benefit them to how much the organisation benefits people.”

Beyond productivity - Defining new metrics for human performance

Given work’s current dynamic, cross-functional, and less quantifiable nature, traditional productivity metrics like hours worked and time on tasks is largely inadequate to capture human performance. Technology and data collection advancements are providing more meaningful metrics for organisations. As data evolves, organisations may have to consider transparency of information to their workers.

• Half (53%) of global respondents agree that their organisation is in the early phases of identifying better ways to measure worker performance and value, and only 8% say their organisations are leading in this area.

• Organisations that build workers’ trust in transparent data practices stand to benefit: When workers are confident that their organisation is using their data responsibly, they are 35% more likely to trust the business, but only 37% say they are very confident their organisation is using data in a highly responsible way.

• 82% of the New Zealand workforce, and 87% globally, consider that trust and transparency are critical or very important for the success of an organisation.

Internal constraints emerge as the primary challenge for productivity enhancement globally. However, New Zealand and Australian respondents perceive lack of capabilities and leadership alignment as more significant challenges compared to the global perspective. This highlights specific areas of focus for New Zealand and Australian organisations in overcoming productivity hurdles, indicating a need for targeted strategies to address internal constraints and enhance leadership capabilities.

“The once clear line that linked individual activity to tangible outcomes is now blurred, replaced by a complex network of collaborations and a demand for sophisticated skills that aren’t easily observed by traditional productivity metrics,” Naseem commented.

Bridging the gap from knowing to doing

This year’s research also includes several trends that focus on how organisations can evolve their mindsets and approaches to meet new challenges. One of the specific challenges highlighted is the rapid advances of artificial intelligence (AI) and Generative AI, which are putting a spotlight on the importance of workers honing their enduring human capabilities like curiosity and empathy to spark imagination.

• Most (73%) global respondents note ensuring human imagination keeps pace with technological innovation is important, but a mere 9% are making meaningful progress toward achieving that balance.

• To close the imagination deficit, organisations should encourage innovation through digital playgrounds — which give workers the psychological safety to explore intentionally, tapping into their capabilities as they experiment with new technologies.

• 59% of New Zealand and Australia respondents consider digital playgrounds critically or very important in the workplace and workforce, slightly lower than the global average of 65%.

Naseem believes that “the sweet spot will be the workplaces that can imagine the possibilities for human – technological collaboration and work to develop enduring and deeply human capabilities like empathy and curiosity.”

In addition to having the opportunity and tools to experiment, today’s workers also want the freedom to build microcultures tailored to each team’s needs, while still staying true to broad organisational values. To support these more autonomous and diverse teams, HR will also need to build “people expertise” capability throughout the organisation to provide these skills at the point of need, rather than acting as a standalone function.

• Seventy-one percent of respondents say that focusing on individual teams and workgroups as the best places to cultivate culture, fluidity, agility and diversity is very or critically important to their success.

• Leaders also recognise that changing an organisation’s approach to HR can be very challenging — 31% of C-suite respondents identified it as one of the three most difficult trends in this year’s report.

Naseem summarises the overarching messages of the report by saying that “organisations must adapt structures and processes that can operate effectively in a boundaryless world of work. By prioritising human sustainability, businesses can bridge the gap between knowing about these changes and implementing updates to drive better outcomes, which helps to create better business performance because humans are central to driving performance overall.”

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