Consulting: How do the HR challenges that US companies
confront compare to the challenges faced by companies in
Benson: Globalization and technology are blurring regional
distinctions at this point. Digital is universal. The need for
learning is universal. The opportunities of AI and automation are universal. One might think things like progress on
diversity exhibit regional differences – but if they do, it’s
often in the opposite direction of what one might expect.
Developed nations have more deeply entrenched workplace
structures; they possess a certain inertia. Developing nations are playing a whole new game that challenges conventional thinking. For example, does developing code really
require a college degree? Or can we teach village women
in rural areas how to code, and allow them to join the digital
economy as virtual workers? Experiments like this are happening in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Digital is a great
leveler of preconceptions.
Consulting: What types of collaborations illustrate the na-
ture of HR help clients are requesting?
Benson: Projects range from HR strategy, to technological
enablement of the HR function, to enablement of self-service
talent management and career management capabilities, to
OE/OD work focused on changing cultures and leadership
skills. We recently helped a
major oil company entirely
redesign its onboarding ex-
perience. We’re helping a
global bank define agile lead-
ership skills and prepare its ex-
ecutives for business agility. We’re
helping a large North American retail
firm uplift its core HR processes and systems via im p le -
mentation of cloud-based software. We helped a global soft-
ware manufacturer define a strategic roadmap to achieve
and enable a pervasive learning culture.
Consulting: How do you expect your firm’s talent/workforce
consulting to change within the next five years?
Benson: We expect the linkage between core HR consulting and technology to intensify. We also expect the technological focus to shift from ERP to digital and automation/
AI solutions. Either we’re going to be helping clients install
digital and AI-led solutions for HR processes and activities,
or we’re going to be helping them prepare their leaders and
workforces to work in an increasingly digital world. We also
expect to be doing a lot more with design, devising process
and technology solutions for HR leaders that enhance the
employee experience in order to give them a leg up on talent
attraction and retention. —E.K.
related to talent management, training and retraining
activities, recruiting and the way the employee experience is managed. Each of those topics also represents common drivers of consulting collaborations.
Enterprise adoption of advanced technology is
disrupting nearly every facet of talent management,
including: what skills are needed, where talent is
sourced from, the types and methods of training and
development that the company delivers, how future
leaders are groomed, how diversity and inclusion is
addressed, how the employee experience is man-
aged and more.
This is multifaceted work, to be sure. Addressing
one skill set need can set off a ripple effect of challenges affecting other groups of employees. Consider
the compensation premiums that data scientists, programmers and AI experts currently command. Companies need to think carefully about how they can
attract those highly paid superstars without causing rumblings throughout the rest of the talent base,
Schwartz suggests, asking, “How do you maintain a
cohesive culture when you need some of those stars?”