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People Power: The Catalyst to Transformation

New research reveals that organizations are falling well short of executing the most basic processes and initiatives needed to make workforce transformation a reality.

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Posted On Sep 27, 2019 
HR professionals know workforce transformation is crucial to competing in a world of shifting paradigms, evolving technologies and increasingly intense global competition. 

And yet, somehow, the organizations we work for fall well short of executing the most basic processes and initiatives needed to make workforce transformation a reality.

These are the frank and alarming results of a global Lee Hecht Harrison and global workforce transformation survey of senior HR professionals. It’s a solid acknowledgement that business organizations need to develop and redeploy their employees to ensure they have the skills necessary to drive future business success. But there’s a clear lack of success in putting the mechanisms in place to drive transformation.

Overall, more than 90 percent of respondents acknowledged that “workforce transformation is crucial to the future of their organizations.” However, only 44 percent believe they are engaged in a process or program focused on workforce transformation, and just 41 percent believe they have been successful in their transformation initiatives. 

Why are so many organizations struggling? The vast majority (70 percent) of workforce transformation initiatives are driven by the introduction of new digital technologies, and organizational culture is cited as the major barrier to success. In other words, workforce transformation initiatives cannot overcome a change-resistant organization that does not have the leadership skills in place to drive transformation and engage employees.

This theory is substantiated by the fact that 85 percent of respondents reported that their organizations did not have the leaders in place to effectively execute their transformation strategy. That means that only 15 percent of respondents believed they had leaders who were “very skilled at leading change, creating a culture of commitment to transformation and challenging the status quo.” These qualities are essential to leading transformation.

Beyond leadership, the HR professionals we queried acknowledged that not enough is being done to help employees re-/upskill to meet the increasing demands of transformation. Only nine percent of respondents believe they are meeting their employees’ career development needs. Only 10 percent are training managers to hold effective career development conversations with their direct reports, and only 13 percent provided the resources to re-/upskill.

These are important findings for all HR professionals given that they often mean the difference between success and failure in workforce transformation.

Only 25 percent of respondents said that HR plays a major role in workforce transformation initiatives. However, in organizations that self-identified as high-performing, 55 percent said their HR professionals play a leading role in designing and deploying transformation initiatives. 

The survey results provide clear direction on what needs to be done to achieve a true workforce transformation, how it must unfold and who should be involved. 

Download the 2019 Global Workforce Transformation Trends Study.