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Gartner Identifies Top Three Priorities For HR Leaders in 2019

In Tight Labor Market, Retaining Top Talent Remains Primary Focus

In 2019, HR leaders’ top three key initiatives will be building critical skills and competencies, strengthening the current and future leadership bench and improving employee experience, according to Gartner, Inc.

Gartner surveyed 843 HR leaders globally — at the enterprise, business-unit and subfunction levels — and these three initiatives clearly emerged as priorities. The survey showed that:

  • Building critical skills and competencies is a priority for 85 percent of heads of learning and development.
  • Seventy-eight percent of talent management leaders are prioritizing building the leadership bench.
  • More than half of all HR leaders agree that improving employee experience is a priority.

“Given the realities of today’s tight labor market, the focus on developing and retaining top talent is critical,” said Brian Kropp, group vice president of Gartner’s HR practice. “Our most recent Global Talent Monitor report found that only 53 percent of workers worldwide have a high or somewhat high intent to stay in their current positions, compared with 60 percent of workers in 1Q18.”

To deliver against these initiatives, heads of HR must develop a strategy that focuses on the following key levers of improvement:

Developing “Connector Managers.”

Ineffective managers are the single biggest problem in the workplace today — 48 percent of HR leaders say their organization’s managers are not effectively developing employees. Most organizations yearn for “Always On” managers, who commit to constant employee coaching and development. However, “Connector Managers” are the most likely to improve employee performance by fostering meaningful connections among employees, teams and the organization to develop an employee’s specific capabilities — at the very moment that employee is primed to learn. Connector Managers triple the likelihood that their direct reports will be high performers, and increase employee engagement by up to 40 percent.

Demand-driven succession management.

Among HR leaders, 47 percent said their organization struggles to develop effective leaders and 45 percent said their succession management processes didn’t yield the right leaders at the right time. Adding to the complexity, most organizations expect more than 40 percent of leadership roles to be significantly different within five years. Traditional succession planning assesses current roles and gaps in leadership supply. By switching to demand-driven planning, HR leaders can assess leadership needs that will enable the organization to achieve strategic goals, not just fill potential future vacancies in current roles.

Employee experience.

Today, work experiences do not match the experiences of individuals outside the workplace. However, employees want the ease of their personal life, fueled by digital technologies that enable seamless, effortless experiences, to be duplicated at work. To start delivering on this requires a change in focus for HR from just asking what employees want (or worse still, assuming what they want) to listening to what they need and determining what they really value. Supporting what employees value increases employee performance by 20 percent.

“Ultimately, employees want their 9-to-5 to look like their 5-to-9, and the organizations that deliver on that idea will gain a competitive advantage,” added Mr. Kropp.

“The businesses that are successful today and, in the future, will be those that win when it comes to talent,” said Sari Wilde, managing vice president of Gartner’s HR practice. “This means helping employees build critical skills and developing employees into leaders, which is especially critical given that less than two-thirds of managers think their employees are able to keep pace with future skill needs.”

To learn more about these key issues facing HR leaders, attend the complimentary webinar,  “2019 HR Executive Priorities,” on January 23 at 10 am EST or download the full report.

About Gartner for HR Leaders

Gartner for HR Leaders brings together the best, relevant content approaches across Gartner to offer individual decision makers strategic business advice on the mission-critical priorities that cut across the HR function. Additional information is available at

About Gartner

Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) is the world’s leading research and advisory company and a member of the S&P 500. We equip business leaders with indispensable insights, advice and tools to achieve their mission-critical priorities and build the successful organizations of tomorrow.

Our unmatched combination of expert-led, practitioner-sourced and data-driven research steers clients toward the right decisions on the issues that matter most. We are a trusted advisor and objective resource for more than 15,000 organizations in more than 100 countries — across all major functions, in every industry and enterprise size.

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