According to a survey held among business consultants, the growing diversity of today’s workforce – with individuals from different generations, gender groups and cultures increasingly working side-by-side – represents the biggest workplace challenge faced by organisations.
Gender diversity in business has over the past years grown into one of the most prominent topics on the management agenda. For a long time, diversity discussions between business leaders, academics and cultural leaders alike centred around the social and ethical sides of the debate, yet off late the weight of the dialogue has shifted towards hard numbers. For business – driven by the profit imperative – gender diversity is now a strategic financial issue. Various reports have in recent years backed the business case for diversity, including research from BCG (‘The Diversity Paradox’), a report from Grant Thornton warning that a lack of female leaders is costing large cooperations billions in opportunity costs, while across the globe, a broader McKinsey & Company on gender equality report finds that gender parity in work could add trillions globally to world GDP by 2025.
The drive towards a more diverse workforce however, comes with a price tag, reveals a new study by BrightHR, a people management software company based in Manchester. Asked by the researchers to identify what HR-based workplace trends give their clients the biggest headaches, 52% of the consultants pointed at a diverse workforce, followed by the need for a better performance management approach and the organisational processes in place to monitor this. Technology, in particular the speed with which it is hitting company frontiers, came in at third place (30%), while the growing automation of roles was mentioned as the fourth most important trend (29%).
Only 11% of consultants said the increased burden of compliance and balancing competing strategic and admin demands of HR was a major area for concern among their clients, but 74% admitted it was a heavier burden for them than it was five years ago.
Looking ahead, a staggering 83% of the surveyed consultants said that five years from now the HR capabilities and systems of their clients will be insufficient or outdated. To remain successful, companies should accept the continuous change they face in their environment, say the consultants, and ensure HR operations are agile and flexible enough to benefit from opportunities and operational efficiencies.