WALLDORF — Business growth depends on attracting and retaining a workforce with globally diverse values and demographics, according to a new study sponsored by SuccessFactors, an SAP AG company and leading provider of cloud-based HCM software. With diversity increasingly seen as a strategic business advantage, human resources (HR) executives agree that companies must embrace multicultural and multigenerational needs to meet ongoing recruitment and retention goals. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) surveyed 228 HR executives around the globe to learn about the challenges of an increasingly diverse workforce, millennials and their strategies for making the most of these rapid industry changes. The findings were compiled in a new study, titled “Values-based diversity: The challenges and strengths of many.” Key findings of the study include:
- Eighty-two percent of executives agree that a strategic approach to managing diversity can help access a rich talent pool.
- The integration of millennial-generation employees in the workforce is viewed as a significant diversity challenge. Eighty percent believe strategic changes are needed to accommodate younger employees in the workforce.
- Offering learning and career-development opportunities is a key strategy for managing a diverse workforce. Forty-seven percent are supporting policy initiatives such as mentoring in order to engage diverse talent.
Different global diversity issues highlight why HR strategies must meet distinct regional needs. The top global markets that present the most difficult challenges for managing a diverse workforce include:
- Generational issues: Asia-Pacific (29 percent), North America (23 percent), Africa (15 percent), Western Europe (14 percent)
- Cultural/religious issues: Middle East (51 percent), Asia Pacific (20 percent), Africa (14 percent)
- Language issues: Asia-Pacific (43 percent), Africa (17 percent), Latin America (12 percent)
- Gender issues: Middle East (46 percent), Asia-Pacific (18 percent), Africa (13 percent)
- Education and training issues: Africa (45 percent), Asia-Pacific (18 percent), North America (12 percent), Latin America (10 percent)
HR executives are investing in a variety of strategies to provide employees with an engaging work experience, including mentoring new and high-potential employees (47 percent); exposing high-potential employees to diverse business situations (45 percent); and providing flexible working arrangements (43 percent). Key to successful implementations of these strategies is the technology to enable them. Solutions include a global system of workforce data to provide a single system of record, cloud delivery options to innovate quickly and collaboration tools help companies manage their diverse workforce. The top tools are: core HR / HRiS systems (35 percent); eLearning (31 percent); videoconferencing (25 percent); cloud-based collaboration tools (21 percent); and enterprise social networks (20 percent).
“We all know that the business landscape will look dramatically different in coming decades,” said Anka Wittenberg chief diversity and inclusion officer, SAP. “By embracing people’s differences, we can not only make SAP a better place to work, but spark our innovation, better serve our customers, and gain competitive advantage. In addition, we can support broader societal change.”
“Given the increasing diversity in today’s workforce, both demographically and in terms of values, HR executives must create an environment that allows employees to express themselves individually while maximizing their work skills,” said Gilda Stahl, senior editor, the Economist Intelligence Unit. “The EIU survey demonstrates that executives in every region recognize the scope of this challenge and understand that support at the most senior levels will be required to adjust and productively move forward.”