- KPMG Kuwait’s new report The Future of HR: From flux to flow highlights how some modern-day HR functions — Pathfinders — are preparing for the future by taking strategy to the next level; integrating digital and advancing relational analytics; building talent marketplaces; and putting purpose and well-being first.
Kuwait: As the ways employees look for and engage with their work continue to change, KPMG Kuwait published its latest thought leadership publication The future of HR: From flux to flow.
Recent years have put HR functions under the weight of having to implement numerous changes, some dramatic, some impactful, at unprecedented speed. With employees looking for newer opportunities and ways of working, HR functions need to stay one step ahead to better attract and retain talent, and provide people with more compelling reasons to commit to their organization. The Kuwait edition, titled Voices from Kuwait, zeroes in on Chief HR Officers’ (CHROs) top areas of focus till 2025 and focuses on what HR functions can do to support their organization’s overall goals.
Speaking about the report, Mr. Majid Makki, Partner and Head of Management Consulting and Technology Advisory, KPMG in Kuwait said, “The world of people management is rapidly changing and older playbooks are becoming obsolete. Instead of relying on what worked for some other organization, there is a distinct need to put people at the heart of HR decisions and embed HR functions into the wider business. To overcome current challenges, HR functions should focus on delivering on strategy, leveraging digital technologies and building talent marketplaces, aligning people with their organization’s purpose, and prioritizing the well-being of their people. I cannot be more thankful to everyone who helped in bringing this report to light and making it more insightful.”
This year’s publication takes into account the inputs of 300 HR leaders, six Pathfinders from Kuwait, namely Mr. Emad Al-Ablani, Head of Group Human Resources at The National Bank of Kuwait (NBK), Ms. Najlaa Al-Sager, Head of Talent Management at NBK, Mr. Mahendran Lakshmanan, Head of Human Resources at Al-Mulla Automotive, Ms. Anjuum Zia, Head of Talent Management at Al-Mulla Automotive, Ms. Maksuda Parker, Training and Recruitment Supervisor, Al-Zayani Automotive, Independent HR Consultant, Ms. Alyaa Rajab, and the insights of Mental Health Expert and Founder of the MINDMe campaign, Dr. Abeer Hamadah.
During the conversation with Mr. Al-Ablani, KPMG Kuwait found that when it comes to people management in NBK, effective listening lies at the heart of it. Ms. Al-Sager underlined that, although HR functions are looking to rely more on data and analytics, the human component must not be overlooked when it comes to talent management.
The report illustrates that while the hybrid work model may have worked for some businesses, it is certainly a tall order for product-based organizations such as Al-Mulla Automotive. “The hybrid model is a clear no for us, considering we cater to the needs based on our customers’ preferences. The products are humongous in size. So, unfortunately, we really cannot make them available virtually,” echoed Mr. Lakshmanan and Ms. Zia.
The conversation with Ms. Parker drove home the point that behind a successful family business is an HR function that is capable of binding the vision of the organization’s founders and its corporate values, and integrate it into their day-to-day operations.
One of the key points that emerged from the discussion with Ms. Rajab is that there is a need to flip the perspective and see HR more as a strategic function and as less as an administrative one.
With mental wellbeing becoming more relevant than ever, Dr. Hamadah said, “Mental wellbeing is a new concept to some companies and not very well understood. To some it is a waste of time. Yet, if implemented, it will have a big effect on employees’ productivity, reduce sick days, help create a better work environment and encourage teamwork.”
The report also features a case study on the NBK RISE program which is an NBK Group inclusion and diversity initiative that aims to increase women representation in higher leadership roles in the business sector. It is founded by Ms. Shaikha Al-Bahar, Group Deputy CEO — National Bank of Kuwait, and co-created by Ms. Najlaa Al-Sager, Head of Talent Management at NBK, and Alia Abu El Fath, Head of Corporate Communications Global Wealth Management at NBK.
The case studies featured in the report are based on a series of interviews by Assil Homayed, Amlan Suryabanshi, Jamila Al-Dakny, Ohanes Makdissian, Sara Asfahani, and Shashi Shankar Ghosh from KPMG.
The report found that in navigating toward 2025, Pathfinders were focusing on six broad themes. They want to deliver strategic value-add and are focusing on embedding digital to facilitate higher employee engagement. At the same time, there is a push to use relational analytics so HR functions can move from insight to action more swiftly. HR Pathfinders want to build talent marketplaces, make purpose real and prioritize employees’ wellbeing.
This edition of the publication lays out how HR functions can become Pathfinders. It calls attention to the capabilities that are paramount for HR functions’ success and stresses on the importance of looking at HR more as a strategic imperative and less so as a ‘performance and payroll’ function.