Personalize the Employee Experience by Going Digital

By: Jen Stroud, HR Evangelist and Transformation Leader, ServiceNow

You know Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), one of the oldest and most rote tasks in the web builder’s playbook. I’m here to tell you that if you’re in Human Resources and building a knowledge base for your employees to use: Ditch those FAQs. Instead of making assumptions about what information employees want and need, figure out what questions they’re actually asking and focus your efforts there.

I call these Actually Asked Questions, or AAQs.

Implementing a knowledge base with AAQs can be a great first step in leading your organization into a new era, one in which organizations become more personalized, predictive, and seamless for their employees. This is a critical transformation. A recent survey of CHROs (chief human resource officers) reveals that more than half of CHROs (56 percent) see their roles as creating a digital, consumerized employee experience. And 77 percent, or more than three in in four, expect to see improved employee experiences from digital transformation in the next three years.

So where should you begin this daunting task of providing all information pertinent to your employee base? Start simple and take a phased approach.

To start, have your HR department take a few weeks and log every question that comes its way, whether via email, phone call, or someone flagging them down in the hallway. Build a database. See what it is that employees need to know, and what’s bubbling up as a question being asked over and over again. Use the top 20 or 30 questions to build your knowledge base. If you have the answers to those AAQs, you’ll be well on your way to creating something your employees will find useful.

When it comes to search functionality within your knowledge base, keep it simple and uncomplicated. Google became a massive company with the simplest of search pages. Learn from that. Equally important, ensure the search results are simple, too. Write answers in conversational, digestible language that employees can easily consume. You do not want to provide as the first search result your company’s entire policy. No one will read it and you’ll start the vicious cycle of phone calls to the HR department all over again.

Building AAQs does take some time. There’s work required up-front that will pay off if done right. Which means curating the content listed, not lifting and shifting information into the knowledge base from some other database or portal without carefully vetting it first. Listen to the employees. They’ll tell you what they need. And then refine that information into something easily digestible, so it’s of maximum utility.

Once you’ve built a knowledge base, keep it growing. As employees ask more questions, add them to the AAQs, because they’re coming from a place of authenticity. The knowledge base should be a living organism. For instance, perhaps when you assembled your AAQs, no one had asked about jury duty, but suddenly the courts call several of your employees. Go ahead and put that in.  One key to making the knowledge base work: Assign one person to be your knowledge manager. Especially key in the first six to 12 months after the knowledge base rolls out, the knowledge manager needs to keep a close watch on which questions are being asked, what searches are successful, and so on, so they can update and grow the database accordingly.

Here’s a bold idea that we tried, and it really worked: When you’re ready to go live with your new knowledge base, turn off your general 800-number and email accounts previously used to reach HR staff. Force employees to use the knowledge base and continue to refer them to the AAQs. Many organizations, however, find that approach too aggressive. You can still keep the lines of communication open if you like. Then if someone comes to HR with a question that could have been solved by searching in the AAQs, have HR reply with a gentle note along these lines: “I found your answer in our new knowledge base. Here’s the link.”

Either way, the knowledge base should be easily searchable on the employee-facing website/portal so you reinforce the habit of turning there first for all questions. It should also have the option to submit a new inquiry to the knowledge base, with a prompt along the lines of: Would you like to submit a case? Then the knowledge manager can respond, route their question, and take the steps necessary behind the scenes to incorporate the answer into the knowledge base for the next time that question gets posed.

That’s where the project comes full circle. You’re using real-life transactions to help inform and build your living knowledge base, ultimately serving the needs of your employees.  And with that, you’re well on your way to the new era of serving employees through digital transformation!

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Why a More Productive Workforce is Still Possible: Start by Listening to Your Employees

Author: Tracey Fritcher, Global Director HR Transformation, ServiceNow

The gains in workforce productivity in the last 15 years are numerous. But there are still many organizations today that are filled with a great deal of administrative work to get a task done – much of this work falls into the unstructured category and is a huge time waster.

What if there was a way to look at work and build some structure and automation into processes to drive more productivity? Many organizations are looking at work and finding ways to add some guided insight so people can accomplish more in each day of work.

Searching the phrase “increase workforce productivity” will return approximately 84 million results…in .57 seconds – an overwhelming amount of information about recent improvements and many predictions about future gains.

Many of the articles revolve around management practices and what leaders can do to get to that holy grail of incremental effort – the kind of commitment that fills an employee with the drive to stay up late and take care of a customer problem or come in early when two nurses have called in sick on their floor. This is great when it happens, but people have lives outside of work and circumstances prevent doing any more than what is required for the job.

Smart organizations are seeking productivity gains by identifying the biggest time wasters — the work that often falls through the cracks, is highly administrative, repeatable and many times done via phone, e-mail or still on paper. Some great examples of this type of work are tuition reimbursement, charity gift matching, or following up on a paycheck error.

Employees spend significant time just trying to figure out where to go to resolve these types of issues. Once they think they have the right place to go, the next step is usually an e-mail or a phone call which sometimes lead to an out of office or voice mail. So the next step is another e-mail or phone call and soon more than 30 minutes has evaporated and the employee is still without an answer or resolution.

Automation, intelligent workflow, and guided choices for employees to complete tasks are the keys to future productivity gains within workforces. For many workers, having immediate and direct access to answers is far more high-touch than having to call a service center to speak with a representative. Employees want the power of information and technology at their fingertips – besides, a cloud-enabled portal doesn’t have hours of operations – it’s always open and answers are instantaneous.

Recently, a flight crew from a discount airline was waiting for a hotel shuttle bus and talking about where to go for a paycheck dispute. There were six people in the conversation and each person had a different answer of who to contact. Since the high-touch, phone-answering 1-800 number was only open 12 hours a day, there were lots of work around as far as how to circumvent the often 20 or 30-minute hold time for a representative to look into the situation.

If this even happened 50 times a day, for a global 24/7 operation, the cost implications are beyond significant. In this situation, one employee had a similar issue and was on the phone for over an hour resolving a problem…and on the clock the entire time. A paycheck question is one of the easiest things to solve through automated workflow – there is one place to go and technology helps the employee find the right person for that unique question.

Listen

Smart companies start by listening to their employees and finding out what tasks or procedures are causing the greatest frustration. Once you have a short list of “pain points” of high frustration tasks for employees, the work to automate can begin. The great news is that sizable gains can be made just by making information readily available and easy to find. Most companies are looking at overall search capability to serve up answers to an employee without that person having to know exactly where to go.

A search of tuition reimbursement should bring up the policy, a list of FAQs, the link to submit grades and transcripts, a selection of where the reimbursement should go and someone to contact in case of a unique situation (e.g., think of all the recent for-profit college closings in recent years – the right person should be reachable and available to assist in that situation).

When employees are frustrated and administrative items are ridiculously difficult to resolve, the greater productivity impact is around the stories being shared about the awful experience. When an employee’s life event is particularly sudden and there are delayed responses or confusing communications from multiple parties, the result is a worker who is frustrated AND upset.

Terrible experiences with HR cannot be ignored. People share them. It’s too good not to share…and vent…and complain about – and then others hop on the bandwagon of THEIR awful work situation that was confusing and took forever to resolve.

This is all solvable by getting employees used to going one place –one platform instead of multiple systems — to have their issues resolved. When there is a strong service delivery strategy and solution in place within an organization, it really doesn’t matter what the request is – the answer is easy to find, the employee gets a quick resolution and there’s no drama over a ridiculous process.

It is easy to start small and keep building out answers that keep people focused on their actual jobs. Employees should not have to spend a great deal of time and energy to be an employee. At least some of this time and energy can then be expended on real work — like completing projects, making deadlines and serving customers.

Employee Experience Is New Way to Win Talent War: ServiceNow Research

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Digital experiences outside of work have made life simpler, easier and more convenient. Today’s top talent is demanding the same at work, and global research of 500 human resources executives across 20 industries reveals that providing excellent employee experiences, enabled by technology, are becoming the new way to win the never-ending war for talent.

“The best talent today expects great digital experiences at work,” said Pat Wadors, Chief Talent Officer, ServiceNow. “Top talent can work anywhere, and they are choosing companies that embrace advanced technology to make work simpler, faster, better. A fundamental shift is under way, and top human resources leaders are creating a new employee experience, realizing that great benefits and cool office perks are no longer enough. Employees want great digital experiences that make work, work better for them.”

Pat Wadors, Chief Talent Officer, ServiceNow
Pat Wadors, Chief Talent Officer, ServiceNow

Insights into this digital transformation of the employee experience were released by ServiceNow in “The New CHRO Agenda: Employee Experience Drives Business Value.” “The New CHRO Agenda” report details the Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO’s) journey to greater impact; how the employee experience is evolving to impact business results and the impact of an HR function’s capabilities on retaining and attracting the best talent.

From Tactical Manager to Strategic Leader

Over the last three years, CHROs have seen their responsibilities move beyond the core responsibilities of delivering HR services, record keeping and attracting top talent, to a broader role in leading key strategy discussions around advancing corporate goals, driving digital initiatives, and contributing to business performance. 

  • Nearly two-thirds (64%) of CHROs say it’s their responsibility to drive corporate performance.
  • CHROs expect their success to be defined by the consumer-like employee experience. In fact, more than half of CHROs (56%) say the ability to create a digital, consumerized employee experience will define their roles in three years, compared with just 6% who say traditional HR will define their role.
  • 66% of CHROs say the employee experience will drive quantifiable productivity gains across the business.
  • 44% of CHROs expect to be judged on their digitization success achieved not alone but by partnering with other C-level executives to set and manage strategy.

Digital Transformation of the Employee Experience

From how employees access services and information to how global teams collaborate, business as usual is being redefined for the digital era by a new breed of CHRO.

  • Three out of five CHROs say HR is now a driver of digital transformation, a top strategic priority for most enterprises.
  • 77%, or more than three in in four, of CHROs say they expect to see improved employee experiences from digital transformation in the next three years.
  • 83% of CHROs say the employee experience is important to the organization’s success.
  • 68% of CHROs say that their HR technology allows them to improve employee experience.

Investing in the Modern Employee Experience

For employees, the workplace will become more personalized, predictive, and seamless. Their needs will be met through consumer-like digital interactions, such as push notifications for administrative work updates, recommendations for services based on recent actions, and instant answers to questions through chatbots that receive data from multiple departments.

  • 70% say the use of technology to foster a sense of community and healthy corporate culture is a goal.
  • In the next three years, almost half (48%) of CHROs will use an HR platform – not applications – that systematizes automation of HR process and collaboration, up from just 14% today.
  • A significant percentage of CHROs are budgeting for technologies (82% on cloud, 69% on social/collaboration, 65% on mobile, and 47% on function-specific applications) that will help them deliver superior experiences.

CHRO Leaders Show the Way

CHROs who are using technology to improve employee experience are winning the war for talent. The survey divides CHROs into a three-tiered model mapping CHRO-led digital transformation of HR functions, and the business overall. HR leaders taking advantage of more strategic investments fall into the top tier, Level 3.

  • 97% of Level 3s are much more successful in recruiting talent, vs. 80% of Level 2s and 53% of Level 1s.
  • 79% of Level 3s are much more successful at retaining talent, vs. 63% of Level 2s and 14% of Level 1s.
  • 84% of Level 3s report lower turnover than their peers, vs. 77% of Level 2s and 52% of Level 1s.
  • 63% of Level 3s successfully reskill their existing employees, vs. 58% of Level 2s and 41% of Level 1s.

Healthcare Leads, Financial Services Lags

Healthcare CHROs trend ahead of the pack in prioritizing superb HR experiences and building positive relationships.

  • 68% of healthcare CHROs say they are successful or highly successful in using technology to make it easier for employees to do their jobs, vs. 55% for non-healthcare industries.
  • Nearly three-fourths (72%) of healthcare CHROs said they are more likely to be successful at delivering HR experiences that match the technology that employees use in their personal lives, vs. 58% in other industries.

Financial services CHROs are more focused on creating an experience that meets individual needs rather than a sense of community and collaboration – and they’re lagging their industry peers in building a workforce that meets business objectives.

  • 54% of financial services CHROs say the use of technology to foster a sense of community and corporate culture is a core goal, vs. 72% in other industries.
  • 52% of financial services CHROs are less likely to agree that a platform that streamlines cross-functional collaboration would drive productivity and improve the employee experience, vs. 70% in other industries.
  • Only 28% of financial services CHROs say they have built a workforce to meet future business objectives, compared with 42% in other industries.

How HR Can Be the Rock Star of Employee Experience

Written by Deepak Bharadwaj, General Manager of the HR Business Unit at ServiceNow

In 1981, James Hetfield, an unknown vocalist and guitarist responded to an advertisement posted by drummer Lars Ulrich in a local newspaper. From this meeting, Metallica was born.

As a huge fan of Metallica, my ears are still ringing from the last concert I attended in San Francisco’s Golden Gate park. Every time I see them live I walk away amazed at their talent. For many, Metallica is the epitome of heavy metal, and while many of their peers from the 80s and 90s have faded away, Metallica is going strong. They released their tenth albumin2016 and have sold more than 58 million albums, a number only exceeded by the Beatles and Garth Brooks.

I’ll spare you the rest of the history lesson, but I hope you will indulge me on what makes this band so popular: What may sound like loud noise to some is a four-person group coming together, each with their own style and backgrounds to create a finely orchestrated metal experience.

HR leaders can draw inspiration from Metallica and its frontman, James Hetfield. The key to a successful organization isn’t much different than what makes a band successful. A band finds success when they can pull all of the different parts together – lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass guitar, drums and vocals – all working in perfect harmony creating that sublime listening experience for the audiophile. Similarly, an organization finds success when all departments providing service to employees – IT, facilities, finance, legal and of course HR come together to create that unparalleled end-to-end employee experience. And HR must be in front with responsibility and accountability for this outcome.

Take onboarding for example: HR helps set an employee up with their tax forms, direct deposits, benefits packages and employment contracts, IT also has to to provision their laptops and accounts, while the office manager helps with a desk area and whatever other supplies may be needed. It is hard to imagine an effective onboarding process that does not bring all of these departmental services together. Yet, for many years HR has operated in a silo with little interaction with other departments leading to often disjointed processes. But employee expectations in the workplace have changed significantly, and HR can no longer ignore collaborating with others outside HR. It takes all departments working together to provide a positive and exceptional employee service experience.

While Hetfield wrote the lyrics to “Enter Sandman,” it was lead guitarist Kirk Hammett who did the riffs. The end result was a song referred to as one of Metallica’s best moments and earned them a place on Rolling Stone Magazine’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” list. Its time for HR to create that well-orchestrated masterpiece.

Before we get into the “how” let’s begin with the “why.”

Employees first (♪ Nothing Else Matters ♪)

I’ll start with the backbone of the organization, its employees. When you look at the employee experience, one of the most important things to consider is employee interactions with HR and other departments that provide service. If employees are frustrated with the level of service they experience, then something needs to change.

Today’s employees want their experiences at work to be just as easy as ordering a Lyft or shopping on Amazon or booking an AirBnb or filling out their tax returns with Intuit’s Turbotax. They want easy and fast access to information without having to spend time searching or having to ask around. They want to be able to make a request and receive regular updates and reminders if further action is needed, but with little to no exposure to what’s going on “behind the scenes” to fulfill the request. From their standpoint, providing this level of service across the enterprise should be a top priority for organizations and they look to HR to own that end-to-end experience for important life events such as having a baby, a promotion, a transfer or onboarding. Yet, a recent study ServiceNow commissioned of 1,850 business leaders shows that HR is the department most in need of a “reboot.” Not only that, the study also revealed that the three most inefficient processes also happen to be HR-related – employee relocations, leaves of absence, and onboarding.

Enough is enough, it’s time for a change.

HR is the Lead Vocal ( Master of Puppets )

When James Hetfield was asked about Metallica’s hit Master of Puppets and what it meant for the band he explained that they were “definitely peaking” and that the album had “the sound of a band really gelling, really learning how to work well together.” Drawing inspiration from that massive hit of a song, I’d like to suggest that given the employee expectations in today’s world, it is time for HR organizations to begin “peaking” and reaching new levels of effectiveness by coordinating across the organization and “gelling” the various departments and processes. By doing so, HR becomes the lead vocalist and leader of the employee service experience, making sure processes and tasks get completed with complete end-to-end visibility.

Almost all employee life-event services provided by HR touch other departments. With better cross-departmental coordination, companies are sure to see increases in efficiency, greater visibility into processes, and overall happier and more productive employees.

Here are four steps for organizations to achieve cross-departmental success:

  • Clean up shop. Before anything, each department needs to clean up their act and get organized. HR cannot successfully bring departments together if individual departments are bogged down in managing requests in an unstructured manner.
  • Unite departments. Work towards a “team” approach by getting all departments involved. Welcome ideas and have open discussions about how departments can work together better to provide the best end-to-end employee service experience.
  • Constant communication. Provide a way to communicate back and forth effectively, between departments and with employees. Be transparent and open with departments as you help guide them through processes while reminding them of the benefits to their group and the organization.
  • Ongoing optimization. Use analytics and employee feedback to determine what is working and what can be improved. This should be an ongoing process that is constantly evolving and proactively looking for ways to be more effective.

While HR may not officially belong to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, HR organizations can certainly be rock stars within their company. By bringing departments together and working as a team, not in silos, HR can lead the way in improving the employee service experience.

The Stress Factor: What the Online Rhetoric Doesn’t Tell You about Business Growth

Author: Terri Hiskey, Vice President, Product Marketing, Manufacturing Portfolio at Epicor Software

You don’t have to search far on LinkedIn before you come across phrases like ‘I’m a results-driven go-getter’, ‘I thrive in a fast-paced environment’, ‘I’m a best-of-breed strategic thinker’, and ‘I have a track-record for generating business growth’. The list goes on.

But beyond the online show, a lot of people–and the organisations that employ them–actually find business growth rather stressful. And that’s the case even though many organisations are constantly looking to grow their businesses by expanding into new territories, developing new product lines, or boosting their profits.

According to Gideon Neiman and Marius Pretorius in their book Managing Growth, business growth puts a strain on resources. It often requires employees to work harder and faster, and needs managers to make quicker and more accurate decisions. Business growth also involves change–whether that’s integrating new locations, new colleagues or new products into existing processes, and this too can make growth more challenging. As part of its global growth survey, Epicor has looked in more detail at the realities of business growth, in order to better understand how different organisations across the globe cope.

By surveying over 2,000 business professionals across the world, we found something that LinkedIn’s online show of pride doesn’t give away. While one-in-three business professionals find growth rewarding, two-in-five actually find it challenging, one-in-five finds it stressful and one-in-ten even finds it painful. Perhaps these things are easier to admit on an anonymous online survey than on a public LinkedIn profile page!

Stress

The realities of growth are therefore more complex than they may at first seem, with stresses and challenges playing a significant role in employee experiences as the businesses they work for develop. Nevertheless, with businesses generally feeling optimistic about their growth prospects (scoring an average 7.2 out of 10 for optimism), they must come to grips with these realities to make the growth process easier.

While a certain amount of stress can be stimulating, it can also be incapacitating for businesses or employees for whom it is not manageable. For example, in his work on stress in business, Jim Taylor, Ph.D. from the University of San Francisco, explains that growth can put employees under psychological pressure to perform, and that in turn can give people more energy and endurance, sharpening their thinking and focus for the intellectual demands they face. However, as soon as demands begin to exceed capabilities and resources, business growth (and the stress it brings) may become debilitating for workers and the businesses that employ them.

Stress may be a by-product of growth, but businesses want to grow. So, what can they do to help make the journey easier?

Our research shows that businesses turn to a variety of methods to help them keep on top of the stresses and challenges they face while growing, and demonstrates that different members of the workforce have different opinions on how to make business growth a better experience. Not surprisingly, two-in-five (38%) members of staff questioned in our study believe that business growth could be less stressful with better leadership. On the flip side of this, 37% of directors and managers think that the challenges of growth can be largely overcome if employees worked more efficiently.

There are differences too, between different sized organisations–with a quarter of large organisations (with over 1,000 employees) tending to feel that growth would be less stressful if their business model was more flexible, and only 16% of small organisations (with under 100 employees) feeling the same. Smaller businesses, after all, tend to find it easier to adapt, making change less difficult to manage. Larger organisations on the other hand tend to have to work harder at evolving. They have more internal processes to follow, and more stakeholders to involve in strategic decision making, which is an inevitable aspect of growth.

Across the board there is widespread recognition that implementing better technology is key to a business’s ability to cope with the stresses and challenges presented by growth. Making use of the latest technology can help businesses work more efficiently, and even help them expand into new geographies, without having to make huge investments in staff and facilities. This is especially true in the manufacturing sector, where intelligent enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions are helping organisations to bridge the top floor with the shop floor. By doing this, ERP systems allow for better data flow–for example between sales teams, machines on the production line, shipping partners and customers–as well as automating otherwise manual tasks to cut time to market.

Almost half (47%) of business professionals across the globe agree that technology is an important factor in overcoming the challenges of growth, with those that are in a position of power tending to feel even more strongly about this fact. 54% of CEOs and 52% of directors and managers believe that technology helps them overcome the stresses of growth. However, just 37% of staff who are less senior agree.

It’s possible that more senior staff have a better understanding of the business benefits of technology change, because they have a clearer idea of the business’s growth strategy and the ‘end goal’ that technology will help them to reach. Less senior employees however, tend not to be involved in the decision-making process, making it harder for them to see the value in change. They may also be over-burdened by increasing workloads and have little patience for learning how to use new technology on top of their daily grind.

Technology change can moreover threaten the organisational culture of the workplace–it can change the work environment by transforming tasks and processes, and providing greater visibility of those tasks, something which will understandably make staff nervous if they don’t feel they have a personal and professional stake in the changes being made. Organisations that do chose to embrace digital transformation on their pathway to growth must therefore do this in a manner that will allow all members of the workforce to understand the reason for the business’s investment, to overcome resistance from staff.

While it’s certainly true that some business professionals do thrive under the pressure of growth, beyond the online rhetoric, and the year-on-year increase in output or profits, there’s a deeper, more human experience of business growth too. While some find it rewarding, others find it challenging. The most successful high growth organisations are those that have flexible systems, are able to constantly adapt to new and better business models, and are able to bring their staff onboard with changes along the way. Investing in technology is a good way to meet these three growth requirements and tackle the challenges of growth head on.

Modern Tools for the Modern Employee

Written by Deepak Bharadwaj, General Manager of the HR Business Unit at ServiceNow.

The modern corporate world strikes a stark contrast to the workplace of 20 years ago. Beyond the tearing down of cubicle walls and the obliteration of the nine-to-five workday, the changes in the way companies meet staffing needs, and the way we work have been nothing short of revolutionary.

At each turn in the evolution of the workplace, advances in technology have both pushed and enabled these changes. There isn’t any better example of the shift that has occurred in the workplace than comparing the bulky desktop computer that occupied office desks for decades to the modern smartphone, an always connected, supercomputer that fits in your pocket. The magnitude of change is undeniable and it is no surprise that these changes in technology have completely altered how employees expect to communicate, connect and stay informed in the workplace.

Today’s employees want easy, seamless experiences in the office. To them, requesting time off or checking their company’s maternity leave policy should be just as easy as ordering an Uber and using Venmo. Within seconds, consumers can find the answer to just about anything. But when it comes to life at the office, even with the advances in technology in recent years, employee requests or questions can take days or sometimes weeks to answer.

Chatbog

We asked more than 350 HR leaders at last year’s HR Tech Conference and Expo how their employees find information on HR policies. While nearly half (47%) admitted employees want easier access to information, only 12% of respondents said it’s easy for employees to find the information they need. While a common scenario throughout the enterprise, employees are speaking up and pushing their organizations to look at other options that would enable them to get the answers they need no matter where they are or the time of day.

The path to the future that will enable companies to meet employees’ needs is an integrated HR Service Delivery (HRSD) approach. One of the many tools enabled by HRSD is chatbots. In fact, two-thirds of respondents to our survey believe their employees are very comfortable using chatbots. We have Siri and Alexa to thank for that. With the majority of respondents (92%) agreeing that chatbots will be important in directing employees to find information, it’s clear that this technology represents an important step in enabling employees to access the information they need when they need it. There may be nothing more valuable to an employee than accessing information without having to go through hoops.
Given the increasingly “on demand” nature of staffing solutions, tools like chatbots that connect users to an organization’s data are key to avoiding common pitfalls when working with temporary and new employees. Chatbots are an exciting solution to a common pain point, but before implementing intelligent technologies, there are other things to consider.

A more recent trend among large employers, Gartner market guide, is for them to “approach service comprehensively, by organizing it around the totality of employees’ needs rather than by department.” HR influencer Josh Bersin calls this this a ‘system of productivity’ that helps employees to get their work done. Chatbots and other new intelligent technologies are not standalone solutions but rather, part of a larger HRSD strategy to enable these new technologies and improve the employee service experience. Through careful planning and consideration of new intelligent technologies combined with HRSD strategies, companies will be in a unique position to provide a superior employee service experience in the coming years.

 

Transform HR with Intelligent Automation

Written by Deepak Bharadwaj, General Manager of the HR Business Unit at ServiceNow.

Automation is everywhere. As the “new norm,” intelligent automation plays a key role in our everyday lives. From Lyft providing instant access to a ride and Alexa keeping track of the grocery list, intelligent automation is behind the scenes enhancing services and making our lives easier. With less and less effort required on our part, intelligent automation is quickly becoming the preferred way of doing things.

While the world moves towards increased automation, many companies and HR organizations in particular are striving to follow. However, many HR organizations still rely on manual and unstructured work processes. In a recent study of more than 1,850 business leaders, HR was named the department “most in need of a reboot” with only 37 percent of services being automated. This makes it not only difficult for HR teams to do their jobs effectively, but also reflects on the department overall and what employees experience when interacting with HR. The lack of automation in HR organizations is especially challenging given the dramatic rise in work loads in recent years. Struggling to keep up with the high volume of work, frenetic pace, and employee demands, HR organizations are realizing that emails and spreadsheets don’t cut it in today’s world of increased automation and that the time has come to update their systems.

HR departments want to provide excellent service, but are often bogged down with routine requests and tasks. To avoid these pitfalls, organizations should look at the facts, consider the benefits of automation, and make an actionable plan.

Intelligent Automation

Look at the Facts

The pace of work is rising each year. In fact, by 2020, nearly 9 out of 10 executives believe their companies will hit the breaking point in which they will need intelligent automation to keep up with work volume according to the study. Yet, less than half of business processes are automated, with HR and customer service the least. A surprising statistic considering their impact on the overall service experience and the important relationships they manage with employees and customers respectively.

Inefficient tools and manual processes are making it increasingly difficult for HR departments to do their jobs well.  In fact, 91 percent of survey respondents agree that skilled professionals spend too much time on administrative tasks. HR teams are drowning in unanswered emails and phone calls, unwieldy spreadsheets and stacks of administrative paperwork. Respondents also confirm this by reporting that managing employee relocations, leaves of absence, and onboarding are the least efficient processes. Without automation, tasks that should be streamlined and effortless are taking the most amount of energy and time. This leaves HR feeling drained and with little resources left to do their jobs well. As the world becomes more interconnected, the pace of work will also grow leaving companies with one choice – to aggressively automate their HR processes.

Consider the Benefits

When companies consider the financial and productivity benefits that automation delivers, there should be no hesitation to pursue this route. For instance, the study shows that highly automated companies are six times more likely to experience revenue growth than companies with low automation. When asked, executives highlighted some of the potential reasons for this enhanced financial performance including reduced costs (81%), increased customer satisfaction (78%), faster work completion (84%), and more time for strategic initiatives (74%). In other words, the more automated processes in place, the more resources and time HR teams have to do the work they want to do.

Automating HR processes can dramatically enrich the workplace experience for both HR teams and employees. When HR teams are freed from the mundane and drudgery of manual work, they have the opportunity to explore what matters – developing the skills to reach their full potential as productive employees. Instead of spending their days filling out forms, sending emails and updating spreadsheets, they can focus on building workplace relationships, exploring their creativity, and providing high quality HR services to employees.

Make a Plan

To avoid hitting the breaking point, HR organizations need to take action today. The following steps will help companies as they start down the path to full HR process automation:

  1. Identify HR processes that need improving. Make a catalog of HR services that could benefit from automation. Typically, these are services that have a high degree of repetitive tasks performed by HR or by employees and their managers. These could include simple services like tuition reimbursement, gift matching and employment verification to more complex ones like leaves of absence, relocation, onboarding and offboarding. Plan for dependencies on and touchpoints with other departments providing service including IT and Real Estate and Facilities.
  2. Prioritize services. Next, prioritize HR services in need of automation based on frequency, volume and impact. Create a prioritized roadmap based on these findings. For example, a critical yet infrequent natural disaster should be a top priority with automated processes in place for if/when these events occur. Similarly, the productivity benefits associated with automating onboarding in a high growth or high turnover organization can be significant.
  3. Work with teams throughout the transition. Employees are often resistant to change and need management to reassure them throughout the process. Actively seek employee input, answer questions, address concerns, and incorporate their ideas into the automation roadmap. Doing so will improve the final outcome.
  4. Follow best practices for change management. Organizational change is more than checking off a to-do list.  Executive support and active participation by both HR and employees and their managers is essential. By communicating regularly, companies can break down barriers, establish clear ownership, and ensure that every part of the business is engaged.
  5. Help HR thrive in an automated world. Ninety-four percent of business leaders believe automation will increase the demand for skills such as collaboration, creative problem-solving and communication. Yet many of today’s HR teams are inundated with manual tasks and may not have the skillset to thrive in an automated workplace. Ensure that proper training is set up to help HR professionals through the transition so they can feel better equipped and successful at work.

While many companies have started to use intelligent automation, research shows the pace is not enough to keep up with the rising amount of work expected in the coming years. HR teams will continue to do mundane and repititive tasks manually if companies do not speedup their automation roadmaps. By following best practices for successful HR process automation and organizational change, companies will start to see immediate results in costs and efficiency for HR along with overall employee satisfaction and productivity.

ServiceNow 2018 HR Predictions – The Year of the Employee

Written by Jen Stroud, HR Evangelist & Transformation Leader at ServiceNow.

Jen Stroud, HR Evangelist & Transformation Leader, ServiceNow
Jen Stroud, HR Evangelist & Transformation Leader, ServiceNow

The Candidate Experience will continue to be a top priority for organizations as HR leaders battle for the best available talent. Talent leaders will need to find new technology solutions to attract, engage and motivate candidates to join their organization. While onboarding will continue to be something HR leaders will focus on improving, more and more the emphasis will be on pre-boarding and how to create a WOW experience before Day 1. Reducing or eliminating the administrative burden for candidates will go a long way in helping organizations reach their recruitment goals. The challenge in 2018 will be for HR leaders to extend the WOW candidate experience to the employee experience.

In line with the above, the Employee Experience will continue to grow in terms of a popular and critical focus area for HR leaders in 2018. Employee experience took off in 2017 as a hot topic but will gain significant momentum in 2018 as CEOs, CHROs and CIOs understand how they must work together to create a work environment that not only attracts talent but helps keep talent engaged and productive longer. PRODUCTIVITY and how to maximize it will be a key buzz word in 2018. Addressing “Employee Experience” and “Employee Productivity” will move from being optional strategic initiatives to corporate imperatives as leaders look to the consumer market for inspiration. The top questions HR leaders will be asking themselves and their teams are “What are we doing to improve the employee experience?” and “Are we making it easier for employees to be employees?”

We will see an increase in Enterprise Service Centers vs. HR or Department Portals as executives understand that the best way to create a best in class employee experience is to have a single place for their employees to go for all their information and service/support needs. It is no longer about Employee Self Service as organizations will need to do more than that to engage talent. Service Centers will need to be comprehensive and include multiple ways to engage with employees. To this end, ensuring that employees also have mobile options available to them will soar in 2018 as critically important.

2018 – The Year of the Employee!!! In line with the focus on employee experience, the EMPLOYEE will take center stage as a key focal point for CEOs and CHROs much as the CUSTOMER has in the past. Leaders will gravitate toward solutions that will delight their most critical asset as they understand that the best way to improve their bottom line is to improve their employee experience. One of the key areas of employee experience that leaders will need to come to terms with in 2018 is a continued shift to working remotely or from “home”. Employees will be looking for creating more work/life balance and one of the best ways to achieve this is to offer easy ways to work outside of a traditional bricks & mortar location.

While organizations will become more and more employee-centric, we will likely see a decline in full-time employment and an increase in people who will work on a contract basis for shorter periods of time as well as a significant increase in employees working remotely. Being able to connect with and continuously engage with these employees will be critically important for HR as well as other corporate executives.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been a very hot topic in 2017 and this will continue to be the case in 2018 as advancements in AI capabilities grow in the coming 12 months. To prepare for the ability to fully leverage AI, we will see an increase in digital transformations in HR and across the enterprise. Leaders will continue to recognize that AI will not be an effective solution unless and until their “house” is in order. Therefore, streamlining and automating work will take a priority.