Following an in-depth survey of 115 Australian Chief Human Resources Officers (CHROs) representing organisations responsible for 24% of GDP and over one million employees, local research and advisory organisation, ADAPT, has released the results of its first-ever People Edge study.

ADAPT Senior Director of Strategic Research, Matt Boon, said: “While we’ve proven our ability to collaborate in a hybrid digital workplace environment, employees still struggle to simultaneously bond and truly innovate. At the moment, department leaders are thinking in silos, but helping employees flourish in their roles is a team sport requiring people leaders, IT departments and facilities managers to unite behind the common goal of workplace optimisation.”


Improving hybrid work culture top of mind for people leaders

ADAPT’s research revealed a significant focus on workplace optimisation among heads of Human Resources. 73% of respondents are in the process of digitising workflows and processes and creating a data-driven organisation, while 70% of respondents are seeking to improve hybrid work culture.

According to Mr. Boon:

A focus on a healthy workplace culture is vital, but defining ‘culture’ for its own sake won’t benefit employees, who need to be empowered first and foremost by better ways of working.

“People leaders are tackling the challenge head-on, but will realise greater success through the involvement of other departments.”


Challenges to a world-class employee experience remain digital

Legacy processes & mindsets and increasing digital fatigue among staff were listed as key obstacles to a world-class employee experience, with 51 and 49 per cent of survey respondents listing them as challenges, respectively.

The skills shortage remains an issue for 48% of CHROs, who are struggling to find the required technology experts to assist in experience uplift. Inefficient communication remains a key pain-point for HR leaders, as 45% of respondents cite delayed decision-making and an over-reliance on email and traditional communication methods as additional EX obstacles.

Mr. Boon believes the impact of technology leaders in employee experience improvement can be understated: “Just 37% of HR leaders say the CIO is being given autonomy in people-related decisions, so until the importance of the technology leaders’ role in improving the employee experience is recognised through increased influence in the HR function, tech-related frustrations are likely to linger and affect worker satisfaction and therefore, productivity in an already tight labour market.”


Companies explore creative return-to-office measures

CHROs continue to offer new experiences to employees in efforts to encourage a return to the office.

The measures are, in order of most adopted: Employee experience activities (in-person collaboration activities and workshops), social and informal events, revamped working spaces, and hybrid working arrangements.

Ranked fifth among HR leaders was an intention to postpone a return to office indefinitely. Mr Boon states: “While a return to office may well benefit workplace culture, a one-size-fits-all approach is destined to fail. Companies should pay careful attention to the frustrations expressed by their employees and develop ways to remove them, which might not call for a blanket return to office mandate”.


Businesses look inwards to address skills shortages

Mr. Boon believes businesses will continue to struggle to find the required digital talent as cyber skills and more remain in critical demand.

Companies are looking inwards to fill the gaps, with 71% of them investing in internal skill development, 53% creating more internal job rotation opportunities, 49% of respondents automating manual processes, 48% creating more internship programs, and 41% of organisations collaborating with universities to engage emerging talent.


Digital professions in highest demand revealed

Mr Boon noted that while skills shortages are being felt across many industries and professions, the IT skills shortage feels more pronounced as companies prioritise digital transformation efforts, with a number of digital professions still highly-sought-after by HR leaders including cybersecurity professionals (63% of survey respondents), data scientists (61%), data analytics experts (59%), machine learning/artificial intelligence experts (54%), and cloud experts (54%).


About ADAPT Research & Advisory

Equipped with over 10 years of unrivalled local data and a vision to make Australia more commercially competitive and productive, ADAPT’s Research & Advisory services deliver powerful insights to help organisations formulate innovative tactics and execute on strategic plans for business success.

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