4 Keys To Success While Transforming to World of Digital HR — Jason Averbook

Written by Jason Averbook | Originally published at his blog on March 30, 2016.  

Stream of digital data and eye

Anything with the word “digital” in it these days seems to be a hot topic. When you see the word “digital” and “transformation” together – we all snap to attention and think to ourselves “am I doing this stuff?” or “am I falling behind?” I had the opportunity to read a great piece in HBR that you can access here and it made me think about the world of Digital HR and the transformation that we all are making on a daily basis (or should be). What are the 4 things and how should we address them, read on…

“No transformation is more challenging than meeting the service expectations of a digitally empowered workforce”

  1. Expectations – I love the quote from the article and will change it to our language of HR – “no transformation is more challenging than meeting the service expectations of a digitally empowered workforce”. This quote cannot be more true and something we discuss and try to take action in our strategies.  A key thing to understand about expectations going forward is that the experience is so much more than the user interface or technology, it is all about the proactive experience. One of the keys to this will be leveraging data from all systems to create a “personalized” experience for the entire workforce (candidates, employees, contractors, former employees, retirees). Managing expectations of the workforce on a global basis will only continue to be harder going forward. One of my recommendations is to make sure that within the HR Process and Technology team, there is someone focused on nothing but thinking about the expectations of the workforce and how we today and into the future will provide a proactive experience. This will not come from one vendor, but come from a truly holistic, thought out digital HR/Workforce strategy, that will empower and keep your top talent focused on doing their jobs while giving you access to data to know more about your talent than ever before.
  2. Enhancements – We have grown up in a world where the “go-live” and Phase 1 of any solution deployment is a huge milestone and after that, well, we haven’t done so great. We live in a world of “perpetual beta” where we must continue to try new things, create new experiences, continue to push the boundaries of how we exceed the expectations of our changing workforce and most importantly, mirror our initiatives based on what is happening to us as consumers, not just what our software vendor tells us to do next. We as a function have so much to offer the business in each of the different aspects of attracting, developing, managing, engaging and retaining a workforce that just like the world leaders do at creating the future, we should have a “workforce lab” in our function. This “lab” should be tasked with nothing but listening to both the internal and external world trying new things that continue to push the boundaries of our capabilities as a function. We must end the world of stopping at “go-live” or waiting to deploy the next module. The world doesn’t work in modules and the workforce could care less about our modules, constant enhancements are required to show the business and the workforce that we as a function are up for this challenge and we will treat our workforce as well or better than we do our customers.
  3. Collaborative Innovations – One of the areas I see HR lacking in greatly is the concept of continuing to innovate in collaborative ways. We have through our history been very “insular” when it comes to who we work with, who we share with and for the most part, have not necessarily been good at thinking through collaborative ways to partner with neighboring companies (competitors perhaps), vendors, integrators and customers to re-think how we continue to perform our business functions. These innovations could be as simple as partnering with the community to make sure we are attracting talent to our brand on a continual basis to as complex as asking vendors to partner to create a seamless, integrated experience for the workforce. The most important point around collaborative innovations is that nothing happens simply on our own anymore. Whether you read the latest book from Reid Hoffman, The Alliance to The Age of the Platform by Phil Simon,  we must think different about talent, work and technology moving forward and only through collaboration will competitive advantage be realized.
  4. Organizational Leadership – The shift from “Mad Men” to “Math Men” as the article highlights is a key to the organizational leadership change needed as we move to a Digital HR world. I talk about this a ton in my keynotes, the need for HR to realize that Data is Sexy and in order for Digital HR to become a reality in organizations, the data that is collected and the data that is then distributed back to the business has to get better and be tied together with actions. We must also truly start to realize that many of our HR processes and therefore technologies that were used in the production-oriented industrial economy will not work in the more global and fast-changing digital economy. The sooner that your organization and its leadership realize this the better and the faster your organization can “leapfrog” the competition and change these old processes and technologies, the better off you will be. Another huge issue around the digital age is that of risk. Just like all technological change, there is risk and probably more than ever around digitization. We live in a world and are in a situation where HR has two choices, it can curl up and make more policies to mitigate risk for the .01% who might do something bad or focus on the 99.99% who are ready to take advantage of technology to change work forever. I don’t mean the wild, wild west but would propose that organizations really look hard at themselves in the mirror and realize in order to survive, it will have to focus on the latter. Organizational leadership might be the hardest aspect of change depending on where you are, but know that this digital change is a question of ‘when’ not ‘if’ and those that move the fastest will have huge advantage.

In every era of transformation, changes in process and technology tend to make the skills of existing resources become dated. This another huge risk and point to take into account when moving to the wold of Digital HR. Unless you are continually updating the skill sets of your teams and giving them the opportunity to learn new things, you will find yourself without the talent needed to continue to evolve and as in the past, spend more money in order to stay competitive.

The world of digitization is both scary and exciting. The most important point is that it is completely in our control and there has never been a more thrilling time to be alive and in the working world. Take advantage of it and realize that the future is now!

Another infusion of knowledge…

About the Author:

jason-averbookJason Averbook, a leading analyst, thought leader, consultant and keynote speaker in the area of human resources and the future of work. Has more than 20 years of experience in the HR and technology industry. He worked with leading companies around the world to help them transform their HR organizations into strategic partners. Along with being cited in numerous media outlets such as BusinessWeek, Forbes, Fortune and The Wall Street Journal, he has delivered keynote presentations for events worldwide including HR Tech World, SHRM and many others. He is acknowledged as one of the Top 3 thought leaders globally on the future of work and listed in the Top 100 leaders globally influencing the future of work and the HR function. His latest book, HR From Now to Next, was published in 2014 and is used in over 19 universities around the world today.

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