Research Library Article


Global Human Capital Trends 2014

David Earle

An analysis of the 12 human capital issues considered most critical to enterprise success by 2532 businesses and HR leaders in 94 countries. The study is linked to an interactive tool, the Human Capital Trends Dashboard, that allows readers to segment the survey data by industry, geography and company size.

The supply side of the talent management equation, labor markets, has been amply reviewed in recent years: demographic shifts, worker shortages and surpluses, generational differences, skills deficits, changing worker attitudes, and so forth. Deloitte’s report is a detailed analysis of the demand, or employer, side.

With labor markets and business landscapes being what they are and will be, what should employers do? Where are they prepared and unprepared? What are the most important things to focus on? Which are the most critical investments?

Deloitte’s lengthy and detailed answer is that few companies are prepared. There are three areas of concern: leadership, attracting and engaging talent, and transforming and reinventing HR. Those areas cover 12 specific issues. The most glaring problem by far is leadership, at all levels, in all geographies, and across all functional areas. 86% of the respondents considered this important or urgent, yet only 15% considered their organizations adequately staffed.

The issues within attracting and engaging talent include rethinking the recruiting process, paying more attention to retention, redefining diversity, and unburdening overwhelmed employees.

Issues within reinventing HR include re-skilling the HR team, mastering talent analytics, leveraging technology and integrating local and global HR functions.

This important research describes the path that HR will be following for the next decade. Viewed as a landscape the picture is daunting, nothing less than a deconstruction and rebuilding of the HR function within enterprises that must also rethink how they are creating the human capital that the future will require. We refer to this as replacing the 20th century HR model with a new 21st century model.

HR Investments next  12-18 months

Viewed as an opportunity, however, the view is exciting. Organizations today view the staffing function in two different ways. One group considers it a business support function primarily responsible for filling job requisitions, controlling regulatory risk, and job training. The other group considers it a strategic business function responsible for building, maintaining and deploying a company’s most critical asset, its people. Deloitte’s path leads to the integration of these two views into a function that will have enormous influence on every organization’s success.

Performance management offers an example. The most common system today is one version or another of “rank and yank,” in which periodic assessments compare workers’ achievements against predetermined goals. Low achievers are dismissed. That system has its roots in the 19th century industrial revolution, where workers were valued according to the physical things they could produce in a workday: twenty finished garments or 500 pounds of coal versus fifteen garments and 400 pounds.

In an economy like ours that is 70% service based, that system fails. What becomes more effective is one based on continuous monitoring and feedback, supported by on demand training and support tools. The two systems have the same goal, maximum performance, but very different ways of achieving it.

One of the most important takeaways from this research is the fact that doing more is not enough. Today companies have to manage people differently - creating an imperative to innovate, transform, and reengineer human capital practices.


Lead and develop

  • Leaders at all levels
  • Corporate learning redefined
  • Performance management is broken
  • The quest for workforce capability

Attract and engage

  • Talent acquisition revisited
  • Beyond retention
  • From diversity to inclusion
  • The overwhelmed employee

Transform and reinvent

  • The reskilled HR team
  • Talent analytics in practice
  • Race to the cloud
  • The global and local HR function

Deloitte Study Information