“The average age of an S&P 500 company is under 20 years, down from 60 years in the 1950s, according to Credit Suisse.” As a range of new technologies redefine business models, sustainability of business practices is a critical focus area.
Business sustainability is defined as an approach that enables companies to proactively deal with incoming changes. From economic, technological, and social-political change, companies need to design their processes to continue to sustain for the ‘long term.’ What this means is the creation of organization-wide policies which focus on ensuring companies remain agile, as current business conditions demand, while ensuring that external change is accounted for and does not radically redefine business operations.
HR’s role in ensuring business sustainability
With business processes being impacted by new age technologies like AI, robotics, automation etc., Changes in how businesses operate have a direct impact on whom they hire and what skills they need. This growing importance of having the right talent has made senior leaders more cognizant of changing talent considerations. More and more business leaders are sharpening their talent strategies, building HR capabilities, and scaling investments to ensure access and retention of key talent. Sustainability hinges on their successful and timely interventions.
A SumTotal Systems report notes that C-Suite members who discuss talent management related strategy and issues with investors has increased to nearly 70 percent. With the idea being to be ‘able to sustain’ business, HR professionals today have a growing responsibility. Managing future talent demands, reducing and removing risks, and investing to build future looking practices can help weather external changes. And HR has a key role to play in each of the steps.
Steps towards business sustainability
HR policies need to be sustainable. Organizations has tofocus on building sustainable talent management processes across the life cycle of an employee that enables them to be more productive and remain engaged withthe business. Here are a few suggestions :
· Make talent a priority
With talent becoming an important priority for businesses, future looking HR policies that are aiming to become more sustainable, have to factor in their access to proper talent. This is easier said than done. The HR function has to navigate external macro-environmental changes, evolving candidate preferences, changing competitor offerings, and the growing need to have proper employer branding strategies and talent acquisition strategies. While HR has a key role to play in building a sustainable business, to do so effectively would mean to successfully address such problems.
HR leaders need to continuously work towards bringing the right changes to build an inclusive and progressive work culture. And enable an ethical and ecologically sound workplace while at the same time invest in the right technology to help scale up a company’s ability to find and retain the right talent.
· Meet skills requirement within and outside the HR function
With skill changes becoming a major cause of concern, dedicating resources towards proactively dealing with such changes goes a long way in making processes sustainable. This means HR professionals need to leverage the latest technologies like digital, cloud computing, etc., to bridge any skill gaps. Technologies like AI and predictive analytics have improved hiring decisions while interactive technologies like VR and gamification have made learning more immersive and impactful. Moving ahead, enabling companies to proactively meet its talent demands would be key to building a sustainable business.
· Innovate and collaborate
The ability to innovate and collaborate beyond an organization’s rigid structures is key in mitigating future threats. Collaboration will be a necessary component of the work culture. Morné Swart Vice President, Global Product Strategy & Transformational Leader at SumTotal Systems stated in a recent report that “stronger relationships need to emerge cross-industry to invest in new solutions so all benefit from economies of scale and a joined-up approach. Such changes though can only be built into company culture to ensure sustainability.”
Given the increasing scope of skilled professionals and how relevant it remains for companies to have access to skilled talent, it is of utmost importance to have future looking talent practices. While senior leaders and the C-suite urge businesses to be agile, it is the HR professional’s responsibility to find the right talent, in order to build that a resilient workforce to mitigate future talent threats.