Digital Transformation for the HR Leader

Digital Transformation is a hot topic with CEOs and the C-level suite, renewing their interest in data and what it can do to empower the organisation. As part of the Digital Transformation story, data can help to bring clarity and predictability to the HR leader to make strategic decisions, understand how their customers and employees behave, and measure what really matters to the HR team and the organisation overall.

Digital and today’s HR go hand-in-hand – whether organizations and HR departments like it or not.

HR must step forward and take a leadership role, understanding the reasons for the digital transformation to guide the process forward without adversely affecting workforce morale, engagement and productivity.

Over a few years HR discipline has undergone a rapid evolution. For example, replacement of legacy talent systems with integrated HR platforms, reskilling HR professionals, integrating the organisation, and implementing analytics and digital management practices and agile organisation design become central to business thinking.

A recent survey by Deloitte showed:

· Fifty-six percent of companies are redesigning their HR programs to leverage digital and mobile tools.

· Fifty-one percent of companies are currently in the process of redesigning their organisations for digital business models.

· Thirty-three percent of surveyed HR teams are using some form of artificial intelligence (AI) technology to deliver HR solutions, and 41 percent are actively building mobile apps to deliver HR services.

How HR can manage the challenges of digital transformation?

HR knows change requires flexibility and support for employees. But these are often around things like putting a new policy in place. What can HR do when change is a much bigger beast, as it is with digital transformation?

Digital is the future, whether companies are ready or not.

Shifting gears towards digital business models is something that requires fundamental change to core organisational processes and the way that employees work day-to-day. It’s disruptive, and many European organisations are now facing the challenges digital transformation imposes head on.

A 2017 IDC study titled Future business: Unleashing your talent, presented as a webinar by Cornerstone OnDemand, unveiled how digital transformation is impacting HR, and how HR and line managers view it. The study found that cultural resistance to change was the primary barrier to digital transformation. This was followed – perhaps unsurprisingly – by legacy IT systems and retaining critical talent.

Interestingly, the study also found that high-growth organisations have a higher frequency of interaction between HR and line of business managers, and also better alignment between HR and IT, so it’s crucial HR helps overcome the barriers preventing digital transformation. After all, digital is the future, whether companies are ready or not.

Here’s how HR can work with line of business managers and C-suite executives to deliver change and keep employees engaged.

Communicate and interact

Effective cultural change required frequent and effective communication within your organisation. Be sure to use all the available channels you have to foster this transformation, and do not rely on static means of interaction. Instead, focus on providing opportunities for an open conversation as much as possible.

Ensure buy-in

Engage the leadership team to drive the cultural change in your organisation, ensuring buy-in from the higher echelons within the organisation. Your HR team cannot accomplish this change by itself and will need the support of the C-suite, along with the understanding of all stakeholders across the employee spectrum, in order to be successful with digital transformation.

Map out the journey – and adjust

Research and provide best practices, examples and visible roadmaps for digital transformation that lead to culture shift, while simultaneously ensuring that culture change is being monitored, readjusted, and tracked within your organisation. This will give your organisation a clear idea of how digital transformation can and should play out, and hopefully break down any barriers that are currently in the way.

Engage and retain

Retaining your key talent is pivotal while digital transformation occurs. Design and implement a comprehensive strategy that will keep the highly skilled and valuable talent of the organisation engaged and committed to the long-term vision of your company, and they will help steer the successful digital transformation journey.

Get feedback

Aside from having a plan to retain talent, you need to pay regular attention to the level of satisfaction and the perception of the organisation among employees both internally and externally, ensuring that happiness and pride are common and well founded. Employer branding is critical in the acquisition and retention of talent, and a few bad reviews on Glassdoor about your company can stop you making a great new hire.

Digital transformation will continue to be a top priority among European organisations, and it’s up to HR teams across organisations to be the enablers of change. The IDC and Cornerstone OnDemand study found that the majority of line managers recognise HR as playing a vital role in achieving digital transformation, so it’s more important than ever that HR moves itself to a more business-oriented role in the company, and move away from admin and record-keeping.

Ensure you’re working together with line of business managers and senior decisions makers to communicate, map out a success plan, develop your people, and reassess along the way.

The process of adopting a new digital HR platform can be delicate for many reasons. Selecting the right software for your business requires a great deal of research and analysis. The technical implementation itself is extremely intricate. But the most complex variable of all are your employees; how do they react to HR software changes, especially if they have to adopt new behaviours post-implementation? Your job as an HR professional is not only to ensure that they embrace the changes, but that the changes improve the working lives of you employees.

The secrets to leading your staff happily through a period of digital HR transformation to a better future are:

· Identify problems that need to be solved

· Make sure a new system answers existing problems

· Train your workforce on a new platform

· Get enthusiastic buy-in, by making sure benefits are well-communicated

· Keep employee engagement high throughout the transformation

· Co-create solutions by bringing your workforce into the process

In my session, I showed how Power BI could be used to share and disseminate human resources information since it is easy-to-use, and also reasonably priced. It’s a good starting point for the Excel user. Communication is key to all of the items mentioned here, and data storytelling is such a key part of the process.

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