The APQC Blog

Six Actions for HR in 2011

In 2011 organizations are shifting focus from a mode of preservation to one aimed at proliferation. Business leaders are cautiously moving growth objectives above cost-cutting goals. This gradual yet significant strategic shift will have substantial implications for the HR agenda. Based on findings from a recent literature review, APQC has identified six action items for HR in 2011.

  1. Get to know your post-recession work force--After years of downsizing, cutting rewards, and driving productivity, HR departments need to take inventory of the skills, demographic characteristics, and engagement levels of their work forces. This up-to-date work force intelligence will be key to effectively staffing, training, and rewarding in 2011.
  2. Rebuild human capital capacity and capability--Many organizations will find their work forces in 2011 are too lean and not appropriately skilled to grow the business. HR needs fast and affordable ways to hire new workers, reskill existing employees, and quickly deploy talent.
  3. Revisit total rewards--Coming out of recession, employee engagement levels are low. Reports of worker intent to switch jobs are surfacing. HR needs to find ways to restore the employment deal especially for the most critical and in-demand talent.
  4. Sustain work force productivity--Business leaders will expect to maintain the work force productivity increases achieved during the economic downturn. However, some of these gains were fueled by job insecurity and came with negative outcomes such as high levels of employee stress. HR will be called upon to find healthier, more sustainable means for motivating the work force to produce.
  5. Support the CEO’s growth agenda--CEOs plan to grow revenue in 2011 primarily through expansion in emerging markets and innovation. HR can make a strategic contribution by proactively building a work force with the necessary skills and then motivating these employees to display needed behaviors such as risk taking.
  6. Perfect HR operations--Business leaders will expect HR to maintain many of the operational efficiencies and budget cuts it realized during the recession. HR will want to off-set increases in spending with cost-savings from HR process innovations (such as better use of HR technology and work force analytics). HR may chose to invest some of the dollars it saves in its own skill development. As with the broader work force, HR will need new skills related to globalization and innovation.

From our perspective, 2011 looks to be a year for HR to regroup, reevaluate, learn, and expand. What do you see as key priorities for HR this year? What action items are on the top of your HR to-do list?

This blog post is an excerpt from the article: "Human Capital Management in 2011: Coming Challenges and Opportunities for HR." APQC Knowledge Base, March 2011.