The September 2012 “Rethinking HR in a Changing World” report was commissioned by KPMG and developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). It is worthwhile reading for HR practitioners.


  • Study included 418 executives
  • 32% of respondents based in the Asia-Pacific region
  • Wide range of industries represented
  • 47% companies surveyed 1k-10k+ employees

Key points

  • HR is struggling with the challenges of managing a global, flexible workforce
  • Finding ways to engage with workers will help address this challenge
  • Technology has already transformed HR and will continue to do so dramatically
  • Technology and economy are the twin catalysts for HR transformation

HR in the firing line

The full version of the report acknowledges current criticisms of HR and suggests the following:

  • Make the value of HR more prominent and understood
  • Think, understand and communicate in the language of business
  • Move from administration to higher-value-added activities
  • Transfer appropriate responsibilities to line managers

Conversations are two-way

I suggest asking:

  • What is the nature and quality of the relationship between HR and our employees?
  • Is there an open dialogue and ongoing ‘conversation’ between the two?
  • Are we using two-way communication channels?  If not, why not?

Social media – both internal and external – gives employees a voice.  It’s effectively democratising communication.  HR should be at the forefront of using it to engage with employees, understand the business, network and learn.  We should not be hiding from social media.  Or defaulting to command and control tactics when we’re not sure what to do with it.

I agree with Mike Westcott, the Global HR Director at National Grid who is quoted in the report:

“You have got to see social media as an opportunity:  the idea that you can keep it somewhere outside the door is not going to be an effective strategy.”

Author Carol

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