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Earlier this year Deloitte reported on the Global Human Capital Trends of 2014, emphasizing the need of businesses to focus on engaging the workforce of the 21st century.

The report surveyed 2,532 business and human resources (HR) leaders in 94 countries. Despite Canada's reputation as a global hotbed for highly educated workers, businesses here have not been impervious to the new global challenges that have developed since the economy slipped into recession less than a decade ago. Authors of the report describe 2014 as a watershed moment in the history of human resources (HR) capital, stating:

"Future observers may look back at 2014 as a turning point: the time when the global recession ended and businesses put plans in place for a new wave of growth. But as this growth begins, companies are finding that they are dealing with a workforce with different demographics, different demands, and different expectations." - Deloitte Consulting LLP and Bersin by Deloitte.

Businesses face three key strategic challenges in the 21st century

"The most significant HR capital challenges facing businesses around the globe," concluded the report, "could be grouped into three key areas of strategic focus, including: Leadership and development, talent attraction and engagement, and organizational transformation and reinvention."

Challenge 1: Lead and develop. The development of global leadership was rated as by far the most critical, as 38 per cent of all respondents rated the challenge "urgent" –nearly 50 per cent more than the challenge rated second most concerning. The dire need to develop competent leaders was said to be due to "two major, underlying themes: globalization and the speed and extent of technological change and innovation."

Challenge 2: Attract and Engage. The second most urgent need was the requirement to improve attraction and engagement of skilled talent. One of the authors, Josh Bersin, stated in a Forbes article published around the same time as the report: "Today employees don't want a career, they want an experience." With 79 per cent of businesses rating their need to improve engagement and retention of their workforce as significant, organizations need to look to provide youth employees with exciting new leadership assignments as well as coaching and training as needed.

Challenge 3: Transform and Reinvent. Co-author and HR Guru, Cathy Benko, recently tweeted "if talent is an inhibitor to growth, why wouldn't organizations want professionals capable of leading their company's HR departments while cultivating the next generation of leaders?" According to the report businesses competing in the 21st century need to develop HR professionals into skilled consultants while also integrating and leveraging talent, HR, and business technologies.

Lead and Develop

Attract and Engage

Transform and Reinvent

Lead at all levels: Close the gap between hype and readiness

Talent acquisition revisited: Deploy new approaches for the new battlefield.

The re-skilled HR team: Transforms HR professionals into skilled business consultants.

Corporate learning redefined. Prepare for a revolution.

Beyond retention: Build passion and purpose.

Talent analytics in practice: Go from talking to delivering on big data.

Performance management is broken: Replace “rank and yank” with coaching and development.

From diversity to inclusion: Move from compliance to diversity as a business strategy.

Race to the cloud: Integrate talent, HR, and business technologies.

The quest for workplace capability: Create a global skills supply chain.

The overwhelmed employee: Simplify the work environment.

The global and local HR function: Balance scale and agility.

Figure 1. Three key areas of strategic focus, Global Human Capital Trends 2014: Engaging the 21st-century workforce

How is your business planning to strength your human-resource capital in 2015?

This past month lucrative funding for human resources and training programs have been launched at both the federal and provincial level. One of the most popular of these is the Canada Job Grant program, which provides up to $10,000 in funding (66 per cent of eligible costs) per employee to participate in high-skill training.

Ryan Weaver is a marketing analyst for Mentor Works, an organization that offers a number of free informational events every month covering such topics as government funding, cash flow planning, export support services (through EDC), financing solutions (RBC), and many more.

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