REWRITE THE RULES OF ENGAGEMENT IN THE DIGITAL AGE

There is a definite need to rewrite the rules of engagement in the digital age as the principal characteristic  of  the  new  era  is  not  merely change,  but  change  at  an  accelerating  rate. Organizations face a radically shifting context for the workforce, the workplace, and the world of work. These shifts have changed the rules for nearly every organizational people practice, from learning to management to the definition of work itself.

It is abundantly clear that technology is advancing at an unprecedented rate. Technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), IOT, and SCAM – Social; Cloud Computing; Analytics Systems & Mobility have revolutionized the way we live, work, and communicate and the pace is only accelerating. Here are 5 narratives that emerge in the HR story:

Agile organizations

Given the pace of change and the constant pressure to adapt, it is important that new organizations build ecosystems and networks to replace structural hierarchies with networks of teams empowered to take action. The new organization design should facilitate “speed”

Distributed Learning

New organizational structures that ask for “speed” also expect “always-on” learning experiences that allow employees to build skills quickly, easily, and on their own terms. The new requirement will be distributed learning systems.

Prescient Talent Acquisition

As jobs and skills change, finding and recruiting the right people become more important than ever. Talent acquisition will be about using social networking, analytics, and cognitive tools to find people in new ways, attract them through a global brand, and determine who will best fit the job, team, and company.

Employee Experience

Culture and  engagement  are  vital  parts  of the  employee  experience,  and  HR should build systems that focus on the complete employee journey. Workplace redesign, well-being, and work productivity systems are all becoming part of the mandate for HR.

Leadership

The way we measure performance and means by which a leader drives performance in the agile organization has to be reinvented. New performance management approaches that emphasize continuous feedback and coaching, reducing the focus on appraisal have to be designed. As companies transform and digital organizational models emerge, leadership needs change as well. Organizations will clamour for more agile, diverse, and younger leaders, as well as new leadership models that capture the “digital way” to run businesses.

The above five narratives call for a significant identity and skill change amongst the HR fraternity. Not only do HR organizations need to structure themselves for service delivery efficiency and excellence in talent programs, but they must now also focus on employee experience, employee productivity and the entire realm of work, job, and structural design. HR functions and leaders have to make the following 3 transitions to cope with the 5 new narratives:

Automation of HR is one trend that is ending the process or rule-book „regime‟ in HR functions. As processes get automated, and the self-service delivery model becomes the norm, rules enforcement will happen online. Also, this automation drive will save HR a lot of time, and it can instead focus its energy on other value-adding activities like developing digital workplaces & digital workforces, providing data insights about talent and architect superior employee experience.

Prabhu Nambiappan, Senior VP- HR, Ramco Group

From Technology-shy to Technology-savvy

As the enterprise becomes digital, HR must become a leader in the digital organization. This means going beyond digitizing HR platforms to developing digital workplaces and digital workforces, and to deploying technology that changes how people work and the way they relate to each other at work. Thanks to the onset of plug-and-play applications available in HR, cloud computing, mobile technologies & robotics, technology-friendliness of the HR function will not remain an option any more. Big-data, analytics, and focus on data-based decision making on talent in the future is another push in this direction. In addition to being an agile learner to understand new technology trends, HR leaders of the future have to be smooth collaborators to implement successful IT interventions internally. The leader also must be commercially astute to identify and negotiate best deals with vendors and make successful business cases for internal approvals.

From Metrics to Insights

HR has to move from providing data metrics to insights about talent factors that drive performance.HR function generates a lot of talent data – engagement scores, performance reviews, career moves, and employees joining and exiting, promotions data, pay hikes, leave details, etc. Data suggests that only a miniscule percent of HR leaders feel they are effective in using talent analytics. Key reasons for the low uptake include un-clean data, lack of in- depth understanding of analytics, and non-availability of analysts within HR. Hence the shift for the next decade is to stop thinking data, and start thinking how to use that data to generate insights. In terms of analytics-friendly mind-set, HR leaders need to graduate from having a ‘reporting’ mind-set to a strategic mind-set. For instance, from reporting retention numbers, they need to evaluate how they can retain the right set of people. HR need not become analysts rather they need to understand the insights data can give, and perhaps learn to ask the right questions of data analysts.

From Delivering Services to Building Experiences

Most of the HR processes that are rule-based or hard wired will invariably be automated and pushed to the self-service domain. Hence, CEOs are increasingly expecting HR to own the employee lifecycle, both from better efficiency and superior experience standpoint. To make the switch from process-champions to employee-experience-champions successfully, HR teams will also have to become a one-stop point-of-contact for employees for all and any employment- related experience. To provide effective employee experience, HR leaders will need to be closer  to the employee lifecycle journey in their enterprises, and go beyond their comfort   zone   and   reach   out/collaborate/learn   other   functions   such   as   technology, operations, finance, design, knowledge management, and even facilities  management and legal. In a way, HR leaders of the future will need to work at the intersection of different functions to architect superior employee experience.

Automation of HR is one trend that is ending the process or rule-book „regime‟ in HR functions. As processes get automated, and the self-service delivery model becomes the norm, rules enforcement will happen online. Also, this automation drive will save HR a lot of time, and it can instead focus its energy on other value-adding activities like developing digital workplaces & digital workforces, providing data insights about talent and architect superior employee experience.

 

– Author is the Senior Vice President- HR, Ramco Group

 

 

 

 

 

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