The final quarter of the year is always a hectic period for payroll professionals, with all eyes firmly fixed on the impending closure of year-end.
It’s typically a busy time for our HR and finance associates too - as preparation peaks ahead of the new year, and insightful reflections emerge on the twelve months past.
From end-of-year events to annual survey results, our final Quarterly Partner digest of 2019 catches up with all these latest developments - firstly at Workday, one of our HCM partners, and then at the Big Four: Deloitte, PwC, KPMG and EY.
Themes from Workday Rising
Workday’s annual conference - Workday Rising - came to the US and Europe this quarter, focused on the changing business world.
CloudPay was in attendance for an event that saw a number of ground-breaking new solutions announced, as well as key insights made on the vendor’s future direction of travel - headlined by the infusion of machine learning across all Workday products.
Among the show’s most significant announcements was the introduction of Workday’s new ‘People Experience’ interface.
A new, more personalized front-end, it uses key technologies to curate unique experiences for every employee, delivering tailored career guidance and instant answers to HR and payroll questions.
Other developments announced at the conference included a new accounting center built on an analytics engine, and the launch of ‘Skills Insights’ - a toolset which provides greater visibility over an organization’s key-skill strengths and gaps.
In tandem with Skills Insights, Workday has also created ‘Talent Marketplace’, designed to bring new internal opportunities to employees, while aiding the business in leveraging its existing talent.
Josh Bersin hailed this ‘torrent of new talent applications’ as having the capability to “really change the market” - adding the evaluation that “Workday has hit a home run” with its new announcements.
Workday itself, meanwhile, acknowledges that its latest innovations and initiatives are a response to the increasing need for organizational agility.
This belief that the future belongs to agile is also reflected in the results of Workday’s latest global survey, undertaken by almost 1000 C-suite executives and leaders.
In their simplest form, the results show that businesses that recognize and embrace the importance of agility, perform better than those that don’t.
A deeper dive on the findings helps to pinpoint the key aspects of agility that businesses must adopt - namely the “breaking down of bureaucracy, the elimination of data silos, building a workforce with modern skills, and prioritizing technologies that evolve with those skills.”
The Big Four
Among those playing a part in Workday Rising this year were the ‘Big Four’: Deloitte, PwC, KPMG and EY.
In this final quarter, each continued to offer valuable insights on the evolving world of HR, finance and payroll.
Deloitte maintained its focus on the Future of Work with an in-depth blog post on the digital-ready worker. The post argues that for employees to be truly effective in an increasingly technological workplace, workers must know not only how to use digital tools, but when and why to use them
It suggests a form of ‘learned helplessness’ has set in across many organizations, whereby workers have learned that digital tools are ‘only to be used in particular ways to solve particular problems’, rather than having the ‘digital agency’ to experiment with new ways of use.
Deloitte has also recently announced the opening of its 2020 Global Human Capital Trends survey.
The 10th annual survey of its kind, the 2020 report asks firms about the relevance of human capital trends to their organization, and investigates the organization’s readiness to respond to those trends.
As Deloitte launches its survey, PwC has just published the findings from its own ‘new world, new skills’ research. The firm asked more than 22,000 workers to share their opinions, hopes and fears around the impact of technology on their jobs.
Among the headline findings was the belief of 53% of workers that automation will significantly change or make their job entirely obsolete in the next ten years. Only 28% of respondents feel this evolution is ‘unlikely’.
The importance of (and appetite for) up-skilling is also demonstrated in the report. PwC found that in the face of perceived pressure from automation, 77% of workers are ready to learn new skills or completely retrain to improve their future employability.
An internal announcement shows PwC practicing what it preaches too - with a commitment of $3bn to up-skill its own people over the next 4 years.
KPMG has also been busy with its own insightful research in Q4, with results recently announced from its ‘Future of HR in 2020’ survey. In clear alignment with the PwC findings, KPMG’s report suggests more than half (56%) of HR staff believe preparing the workforce for AI and related technologies will be the biggest challenge for the function.
More strikingly, however, is the assertion from 3 out of 5 HR leaders that the function itself will become ‘rapidly irrelevant’ if it fails to modernize.
Interestingly, KPMG identifies a small subset of its respondents as ‘Pathfinders’ - HR executives leading the way in the digitally disrupted world.
These pathfinders are particular focused on shaping the workforce of the future, nurturing a purpose-driven culture, designing a “consumer grade” employee experience, and leveraging evidence-based data insight to drive it all.
Last but not least in our quarterly round up, EY has offered its insights on the changing role of the HR function too, with a recent blog identifying ‘8 forces driving HR transformation’.
HR Transformation lead, Danny Ferron provides an intriguing perspective, suggesting that “the future of HR is horizontal, working as an integrated enabler, ensuring that all key decisions are made with people and skills considerations top-of-mind across the business, rather than operating as a standalone vertical.”