HR Disruption: Trends and Opportunities
If you haven’t started the migration (or should I say integration), to social, mobile, analytics, and cloud technologies, it’s time to pull your fingers out of your ears and stop that loud singing.
Disruptive technologies on these platforms are changing the way HR works.
But it’s more than that. They’re changing the way we work, and that means the organisations we work in, often at pretty fundamental levels.
It’s pretty clear businesses need to embrace new ways to compete. As such, traditional command and control management models are giving way to innovative, contingent and data driven non-hierarchical structures focussed on the customer, the product or ‘the mission’. And organisations with offers that are starting to feel anachronistic? Well, they’re even changing up the very businesses they’re in. Take Australia Post’s transformation, as snail mail becomes a thing of the past and it introduces more digital services.
So the HR department has an important responsibility. It has to help and empower the organisation to respond to these huge transformations. It’s time for HR to step up to the plate and fulfil that role it’s always strived for: To be the fulcrum around which all other business functions operate.
That all sounds fantastic, but how’s it done in practice?
Maybe we should take a step back for a minute. Let’s look at the ways HR’s traditional roles – recruitment, learning, people analytics and performance management – are changing in the face of tech transformation, and how these changes might be about to dramatically change our future.
Revolutionary Recruitment and Onboarding
LinkedIn Recruiter has been described as a ‘nuclear bomb on recruiting’. It brought the task of finding, sourcing and hiring great talent into the social age. With a giant data set of more than 200 million users – a talent pool it would take your company years and years to build even a fraction of – it’s a way to reach out to people who aren’t actively looking for new opportunities.
It’s also empowering every one of us to create our own personal brand, to sell ourselves, our talents and skills. It’s a whole new way of transacting using platforms to publish content & build a community based on your internal ‘brand’ values. Done well, it screams…INVEST IN ME . Or at least it will put you on top of that resume pack. Of course, a side effect is a disruptive tsunami heading towards the recruitment agency space – effectively cutting out the middle man.
It’s not just the way we source new talent that’s changing. Thanks to the growing gig economy and increasingly global workplace, traditional onboarding processes are no longer feasible. Why would you go through lengthy introduction processes for a short-term contractor or a project partner working from the other side of the country – or the world? That simply wouldn’t be viable, time or money wise.
So how does HR deal with all these people coming and going (or sometimes never coming into the office at all)? How do you communicate your values and strategy to someone who’s only going to be with you for a few months or weeks? And how do you convert it to the digital space?
This is where HR can turn to the marketing department. I’m a huge advocate for collaboration between HR and marketing at all times. Take the consistent value-based messaging and tone of voice you use with customers – you know, all those things that get across the essence of your brand quickly and succinctly – and translate it for your internal comms too.
We’ll start to see an increasing consumerisation of HR tech. That is, HR apps and platforms designed to make the end user’s job simpler and easier – helping staff collaborate, set goals, give feedback. Empowering them to strategise, develop skills, make high-level decisions and manage others. Chances are, your organisation has documented ways to convert sales leads as quickly as possible – and there’s no reason you can’t do that with onboarding either.
The HR Disruption is Turning Training on Its Head
Gone are the days of multi-hour PowerPoints. There’s no excuse for boring training anymore. eLearning platforms such as Udemy give your staff the agency to choose what, where and when they learn. They log in to complete short, manageable training courses from any device, whenever they want – and you get feedback on their progress.
Then there’s the amazing stream of consciousness that is Twitter. Sure, you’re going to challenge me on its low signal to noise ratio. I welcome that. So let’s just cherry pick the smartest thought leaders on any subject into a personal twitter list. Now we have a continuous stream of serendipitous learning on any subject. I’ve often watched an idea take shape on twitter…then read the article two weeks later, the Ted talk a few months after that and then book another 9 months.
To keep up with the pace of change, employees not only need to be experts in their own area – they need to be across complex technology as well. PwC’s 2015 Global CEO Survey found that three quarters of company leaders are concerned about a skills shortage. The only way to make a true dent in that is through training – continuous learning is the cornerstone of any good, future-ready people strategy.
Positioning for Predictive Analytics
This is an emerging field, but all signs say it’s going to be huge. In the near future, you’ll have access to an enormous bank of data on your people. HR professionals will need strong analytics skills to turn it all into valuable insights and strategy.
With the right platforms feeding you data, you’ll open up enormous possibilities for the future of the HR department – streamlining tasks that give the entire organisation an advantage. Imagine if you could quickly identify underperforming employees, recommend training, identify flight risks and unplanned absences, and work out who needs a promotion or transfer.
On the other side of the metrics spectrum, the significance of data on employee engagement will keep growing. Engaging and retaining talent (including keeping gigsters coming back) must remain a key HR priority – especially when new opportunities could come knocking at their digital doors any day. Online survey tools let you take your organisation’s pulse weekly or monthly, and make sure everyone’s happy.
After all, isn’t putting people first what HR is all about?
On that note, let’s talk performance management. Many organisations have started replacing the dreaded annual review with more frequent, real-time feedback. So far the software has lagged behind a bit, but we’ll soon see more start-ups integrating this ‘conversation’ with goal management and rewards and recognition.
Which makes total sense, when you think about it. Imagine performance tracking software that draws on real time peer-to-peer feedback and lets employees set their own goals to work towards.
Old HR for the New Age
The tech solutions I’ve talked about are enhancements for HR. They’re efficiency boosters, and when used well they could make your workplace into a powerhouse of productivity.
But if you’re an HR leader and you truly want to make a tangible difference in your organisation, you need to go one step further. What’s in store for your organisation’s future? How will the context you operate in continue to evolve? What’s just over the horizon?
High tech tools won’t answer those questions.
Whatever technological innovations lie ahead, it’s people who hold the key to success or failure. Believe it or not, the solution may lie in going back to basics – take your traditional HR skills, and use them for something new.
HR’s always been good at change management, at ‘selling’ new processes to staff, at dealing with cultural shifts and making sure everything runs smoothly.
Today, you can apply those skills as the way we work keeps changing at an increasingly rapid pace. HR has a huge responsibility to help organisation leaders ask the right questions and develop the right skills.
Remember this: HR Disruption creates, democratises & accelerates.
All I see is opportunity. All I see is evolution.
It’s time to step up and show your true value in the transformation.