In the current era of technological advancements, organizations have access to sophisticated tools and solutions that can enhance their operations. According to a report by Grand View Research, the global market for Human Resources (HR) technology is expected to reach $38.17 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 11.4% from 2020-27. This growth demonstrates the increasing importance of HR technology in the business environment of today and the future. Organizations must not rely solely on acquiring the latest technology to leverage HR technology effectively. A comprehensive digital strategy is essential for optimizing the potential of these tools. By taking a strategic approach to HR technology, organizations can streamline processes, align investments with organizational goals, and enhance their competitive advantage.

So what is Digital HR Transformation?

Digital HR is the application of advanced technologies and analytics, digital traits and behaviours, and HR customer centricity through the lens of the organizations HR Operating Model to optimize HR to deliver sustainable organizational performance.

The objective of HR transformation is to create a more agile, data-driven, and employee-centric HR department. This transformation aims to enable organizations to make informed decisions backed by data, improve employee experiences, and respond effectively to the evolving needs of the workforce. All of these aims are essential in an increasingly digital and globalized business environment where companies need to adapt quickly to remain competitive and relevant.

The Opportunity For Human Resources

HR plays a pivotal role in the digital transformation of organizations. By ‘Being Digital’ first and meeting the expectations of the business and the workforce, HR can lead the organization’s digital transformation. This transformation is essential for driving efficiency and enhancing competitive advantage. It is, therefore, necessary for HR to undergo profound change to drive the wider digital transformation of the organization.

The change in HR will happen on three fronts;

  1. Digital workforce: How can organizations drive new management practices, a culture of innovation and sharing, and a set of talent practices that facilitate a new network-based organization, and a workforce that includes both employees, contract labor and robots etc.?
  2. Digital workplace: How can organizations design a working environment that enables productivity, uses modern communication tools and promotes engagement, wellness, and a sense of purpose?
  3. Digital HR service delivery: How can organizations change the HR function itself to operate in a digital way, use digital tools and technologies to deliver solutions, and continuously experiment and innovate?

How to create an HR Digital Strategy

A successful HR digital strategy requires a strategic approach that takes into account several factors. These include a mindset shift, activation of the organization for changes, deployment and implementation of solutions, sustainment of the strategy, and a focus on continuous innovation. By identifying the key areas of focus, selecting the right combination of tools and systems, and streamlining people journeys and processes, organizations can achieve their desired outcomes.

To create a successful HR digital strategy, organizations should consider several factors,

  • Alignment with organizational goals

To develop a successful digital strategy for HR, it’s crucial to have a deep understanding of the organization’s vision, mission, and values. The strategy should align with the broader objectives of the company, supporting its goals and helping it leverage technology to optimize its potential. By focusing on these aspects, HR can lead the organization’s digital transformation and create a culture of innovation, productivity, and engagement.

  • Developing a Strategy and Roadmap

Developing a detailed roadmap is crucial for successful implementation of HR digital strategy. The roadmap should prioritize the order of implementation, break down the transformation into manageable phases, and identify KPIs. It should target all stakeholders and establish a robust change management plan to ensure success.

  • Prioritizing and sequencing investments

To develop a successful digital strategy for HR, it’s crucial to align it with the broader objectives of the company. It’s important to evaluate potential HR technology solutions carefully to ensure they provide value and return on investment. By doing so, organizations can invest in technologies that deliver the expected ROI and align with their goals.

  • Integration and interoperability

Ensuring that various technologies can seamlessly work together is critical to avoid inefficiencies and drive a positive workforce experience.

  • Change enablement

Deploying new technology requires a significant shift in mindset and work processes. A comprehensive change-enablement plan can help ensure a smooth transition by providing support and training to employees to adapt to the changes and minimize resistance and disruption.

  • Ongoing evaluation and adjustment

To maximize the benefits of HR technology, it’s essential to continually assess its effectiveness and make necessary adjustments. A successful digital strategy for HR is an ongoing process of evaluation and improvement.

By taking a strategic approach to HR technology, organizations can revolutionize their HR processes, improve employee engagement, and secure a competitive advantage in the dynamic business landscape.


Benefits of HR Digital Transformation

  • Streamlined, more efficient processes.

The automation and optimization of HR processes through digital transformation can lead to increased efficiency and productivity. By reducing manual tasks and paperwork, HR professionals can allocate their time and resources more effectively. Recruitment, onboarding, payroll, and benefits administration can be completed faster and with fewer errors, improving overall HR operations.

  • More productive employees enabled by technology

Digital tools offer employees the opportunity to take charge of their own tasks, including updating personal information, accessing pay slips, and requesting time off. This increased level of autonomy not only reduces the administrative burden on HR teams but also promotes self-sufficiency among employees, freeing up HR professionals to focus on more strategic initiatives. Furthermore, digital learning and development platforms enable HR to upskill employees, thereby enhancing the productivity of the workforce.

  • Enhanced employee experience

The digital transformation of HR has a direct impact on the employee experience, with user-friendly interfaces, mobile access to HR services, and faster response times to inquiries. By utilizing digital tools, employees can access HR information and support whenever required, leading to higher levels of satisfaction. Additionally, personalized communication and recognition programs can be facilitated through digital means, promoting a more engaging and positive work environment.

  • Data-driven decision making

The digital transformation of HR generates a wealth of data that can be harnessed for informed decision-making. HR analytics and reporting tools enable HR professionals to gain valuable insights into workforce trends, identify areas for improvement, and make data-driven decisions pertaining to recruitment, performance management, and talent development. This strategic use of data empowers organizations to remain competitive and agile in today’s rapidly evolving business landscape.

  • Increased compliance and security

Digital HR systems incorporate robust security measures to safeguard sensitive employee information and ensure compliance with data privacy regulations. Automated compliance checks can be implemented to reduce the risk of errors and non-compliance. Additionally, digital records and documentation streamline HR’s ability to track and maintain compliance with labor laws, regulations, and industry standards, thus mitigating legal risks and penalties.

In conclusion, organizations can take advantage of the advanced technologies available to them by developing a comprehensive HR digital strategy. HR plays a critical role in leading this transformation by ‘Being Digital’ first and driving the wider digital transformation of the organization. A strategic approach to HR technology can help organizations streamline HR operations, drive efficiency, and enhance their competitive advantage.

In the last three years the business environment has experienced a pandemic, geopolitical turmoil, rapid adoption of technology and economic polarization; these challenges have tested the effectiveness of the talent strategies pushing many organizations into the reactive mode. (Previous insights on Talent Shortage were shared here)

Why the need to thrive and not survive?

According to a 2018 survey done by McKinsey, there is a significant relationship between talent management—when done well—and organizational performance. Only 5 percent of respondents say their organizations’ talent management has been very effective at improving company performance. But those that do are much more likely to say they outperform their competitors.

The alignment of the talent management strategy with the business strategy therefore becomes more essential for survival and continuity for organizations.

How can Leadership Integrate Talent and Business Strategies?

To be effective, talent strategy and planning should be integrated into the annual business planning process, with leadership investing in initiatives to deliver this strategy.

The Human Resources (HR) practitioners can play a critical role in making sure that Talent Management Strategy is integrated with Business strategy by;

  • Developing an evidence-based talent strategy.

When developing a talent strategy, gather all relevant business data to gain insights into how the workforce impacts the success of the company. Key questions like what drives sales trends, how are product development cycles affected by the available talent and what kinds of consumer behaviours can the company expect? Only by understanding these kinds of factors can HR practitioners truly understand what the impact is of talent on the organization’s operations.

  • Having Clarity On Goals And KPIs

Clear business goals are a good starting point. Having clarity on key strategic areas and key performance indicators (KPIs) in the short and medium term will enable better and swifter people decisions. This helps avoid misalignment whose consequences are detrimental to the business.

  • Understanding What Talent The Organization Needs

After understanding the business goals, HR professionals will be able to recognize what talent it will take to achieve those goals. Talent management has evolved from focusing on specific skills to placing a priority on finding talent with the right behavioural traits and that will be a good cultural fit.

  • Leveraging Simplified Strategy Communication

One simple way is through a simplified version of strategy where an organization highlights its goals, purpose, where and how to win. Identify key strategic areas, initiatives and key performance indicators (KPIs) for the year. HR practitioners with the support of organization leadership can describe how talent is the difference to attaining set objectives.

  • Aiming For Diversity of Thinking or Thought Process

HR practitioners should aim for cognitive diversity; People who always align for fear of unsettling the leadership will not help the organization stress-test  ideas or bring new approaches to the table. Diversity in experience, background and level will help organizations get the best business results.

  • Implementing Internal Coaching Programs

Use of internal coaching and mentoring programs that are aligned to different roles across the entire organization are much more effective as it connects people at all levels and creates strong trust.

  • Embracing a longer-term talent outlook.

The market environment can evolve quickly, and business strategies need to be agile enough to respond to the environment. HR practitioners need to have the ability to pivot depending on changing pressures. To achieve this, HR practitioners need to have regular conversations with the C-suite and business leaders who are closest to the market. This helps to gain insights that will enable adjustment of the whole talent management framework as needed to support the organization’s priorities.

It also helps to have a comprehensive overview of where the company will be going in One, Five and Ten years from now.  This will enable better alignment of talent needs from skills required for new projects and automation to headcount increases based on expansion plans of the business.


Research has shown that if an organization gets the right people with the right skills focused on the right initiatives, the benefits are seen across the board: higher morale, productivity, innovation and financial performance. A talent strategy designed and linked to business objectives produces stronger outcomes than simply adopting best HR practices.


It is vital that HR practitioners and Organization Leadership start connecting talent and business strategies now. Linking what the business is trying to achieve with the talent or people will not only determine level of success in line with set goals but also position HR practitioners as a strategic partner to the business through creation of talent strategies that will add value to the organization for the long term.

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors have gained significant importance in the corporate world in recent years. Increasingly, organizations are recognizing the need to integrate ESG initiatives into their strategies to drive sustainable growth, mitigate risks, and meet stakeholder expectations.

While ESG strategies have typically been associated with environmental and governance issues, the social aspect is equally important. This trend has placed human resources (HR) departments at the forefront of communicating employees’ perspectives on sustainability to employers and vice versa.

Why is ESG important to HR?

The social component of ESG is naturally linked to the role of HR and has an influence on the employee experience. Key areas of focus for HR include but are not limited to;


  • Promotion of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging for the organization to be a true reflection of society.
  • Creation of a culture in which employees are treated in a fair and equal manner.
  • Ensuring that the work environment adheres to safety standards and promotes employee well- being.
  • Psychological safety for employees in their roles and helping them understand their long-term prospects with the organization.

In particular, Generation Z are increasingly seeking employers that share their ideals of being inclusive and responsible. Being a sustainable organization now has a competitive advantage over others when it comes to talent management of current and future employees.

Role of HR in shaping and implementing effective ESG strategies.

The Human Resources (HR) department plays a critical role in making sure that ESG principles are integrated throughout an organization by;

Aligning Organizational Values with ESG Principles

HR serves as a strategic partner in driving organizational change and ensuring that ESG principles align with the company’s core values. Through collaboration with the executive leadership and the Advisory Board, HR can embed ESG considerations into the company’s mission, vision, and overall culture.

This alignment helps create a sense of shared purpose and ownership among employees, leading to increased engagement and commitment to ESG initiatives.

Talent Management and Diversity & Inclusion

A critical role of HR in the context of ESG is talent management. Talent Acquisition, development and retention of a diverse and inclusive workforce is crucial for sustainable business success. HR plays a pivotal role in implementing policies that foster diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) within the organization.

Diverse teams are more innovative, adaptable, and better equipped to address the complex challenges associated with ESG-related matters. (Previous insights on DEIB were shared here)

Employee Engagement and Training

HR practitioners take the lead in fostering employee engagement and driving change across the organization. Through internal communication initiatives and training, HR can raise awareness on ESG priorities and how employees can get involved in supporting such initiatives.

Engaged employees are more likely to embrace sustainability initiatives and actively contribute to achieving the organization’s ESG goals.

Health, Safety, and Well-being

The “S” in ESG places emphasis on the value of social factors, including employee health, safety, and well-being. HR is responsible for designing and implementing comprehensive health and safety programs to ensure employees work in safe environments and have access to wellness resources.

By prioritizing employee well-being, organizations can enhance productivity, reduce absenteeism, improve on work life balance and attract top talent.

Responsible Compensation and Benefits

HR practitioners can also contribute to ESG strategies by implementing transparent compensation and benefits practices. This includes fair and equitable pay structures regardless of gender, transparent performance evaluation systems, and appropriate reward mechanisms in line with ESG related metrics.

Linking compensation with ESG performance reinforces the organization’s commitment to sustainability and encourages employees to prioritize responsible practices.

Ethical Supply Chain Management

ESG strategies extend beyond the organization itself and encompass the entire supply chain. HR can collaborate with supply chain and procurement teams to integrate ESG criteria into supplier selection and evaluation processes ensuring suppliers are aligned to company values. This boosts responsible sourcing and fosters sustainable practices throughout the supply chain.

ESG Reporting and Compliance

HR plays a vital role in supporting ESG reporting and compliance efforts. Working in collaboration with finance, legal, and sustainability teams, HR can provide relevant workforce data, including employee demographics, gender pay gap, employee wellness initiatives, training records, and diversity metrics.

Accountability on key ESG factors is becoming the norm with accurate and transparent ESG reporting enhancing an organization’s reputation with employees, regulators, consumers and investors.


With companies increasingly recognizing the importance of ESG in achieving long term success, the HR department’s role in driving and implementing effective ESG strategies is key. From aligning organizational values with ESG principles to promoting diversity and inclusion, HR practitioners play an important role in creating a sustainable and responsible corporate culture.

A recent report from Marsh & McLennan Advantage found that ESG performance will become increasingly important when attracting and retaining employees, a serious consideration during a time when finding and keeping top talent is seemingly difficult. The data also showed that top employers’ ESG scores are 14% higher than the global average, making a positive connection between employee satisfaction and employer ESG.
ESG as a strategic driver with the HR function supporting implementation will not only enhance a company’s corporate reputation but also help with positioning in a rapidly evolving and socially conscious global business environment.

Companies across the world are struggling with a shortage of talent that has been driven by a number of factors such as the Covid -19 pandemic that changed employee needs, adoption of technology like automation and Artificial Intelligence faster than employees can learn the required skills, business landscape changes, inability of organizations to effectively train job seekers and employees.

According to research done by McKinsey, based on the changing business landscape the traditional workforce is shifting and by 2030 there could be a 20% increased demand for managers, technology specialists with a decrease in the manual jobs. The McKinsey report also states that about 67% of the workforce could lack basic digital skills, leadership, communication and decision making by 2030.

Suffice to say while businesses face a shortage of skilled workers, countries across Africa and the globe are facing high numbers of unemployment. A Talent Shortage Survey by the ManpowerGroup found that 69% of companies across the globe have reported a talent shortage.

Companies therefore need to take a different approach to not only create opportunities for present and future talent requirements but also prepare for the changes in the business landscape that will definitely happen.

What can organizations do?

  • Developing a sustainable Graduate Trainee Program

A graduate program is a structured training program run by an employer aimed at developing future leaders of their organization. The programs typically last one and two years or longer in some cases and are available in a number of specialisms e.g. Finance, Risk Management, ICT, Analytics, HR, End to End Supply Chain, Marketing and law.

The program focuses on time specific placements in the different departments of the organization giving the trainee a 360 – degree perspective of not only the organization but different specialties. Graduate Programs support succession planning, improve productivity as they are agile and adopt easily to a changing environment but more importantly by providing clear career paths, retention is improved in companies.

Given that a culture of continuous learning and training will be central to the future of work, organizations that implement and investing in training the talent themselves will easily respond to the changing business landscape.

  • Developing the internal talent

With the ever-changing technology landscape, reskilling and upskilling is becoming a key capability for both organizations and individuals.

A report by McKinsey found that over 50% of C- Suite employees believe that development of existing employees is the most useful way to address organizational skills gaps. Helping the employees to build competence, upskill and grow within the organization creates the agility needed to succeed in the unpredictable environment in which businesses operate. Internal career growth also supports attraction and retention of top talent.

  • Building a Strong Employer Brand

Most company organizations as part of their strategy would want to be known as the Employer of Choice. To be able to have the competitive advantage in the market internally and externally Employer branding is key.

Employer Branding helps in two ways -One to attract top talent and two retention of the existing employees as employees would want to work in a healthy environment that places value on the most critical asset- the Human Capital.

  • Creating a culture focused on the employee experience

From the time an employee applies for a job to the time he or she resigns, the employee will have had many moments that shape the employee experience. Employee experience entails all of the touchpoints people come across when they work for an organization e.g. hiring, onboarding, performance management, and day-to-day relation with co -workers. These touch points shape how employees collaborate, their performance on the job and whether or not they will challenge themselves to succeed in the workplace.

A company that offers an excellent experience for its teams, has a higher chance of retaining them in the long run. Research from Jacob Morgan suggests that companies that invest in employee experience are 4x more profitable than those that do not.

  • Designing competitive benefits and compensation schemes

One important way to attract and retain top talent is to provide a competitive compensation and benefits package or the employee value proposition. The benefits package offered by a potential employer is an important factor in whether or not a job offer will be accepted.

According to Paycor’s survey, 70% of organizations are currently offering increased compensation, while 53% offer health and wellness benefits to attract talent.

When companies strengthen the compensation package, they are able to attract a better pool of skilled talent and also retain existing employees.

Employers today need to prepare for the workplace of the future through adaption to meet the needs of the future employee, up skill as well as offer attractive compensation and benefits packages. Change is a constant and every workplace will need to adapt in line with the needs of the business landscape. Companies that are agile and quick to respond will have an advantage in preparing for the workplace of tomorrow and winning the war on talent.

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