I have been intrigued by where the HR profession is heading, many discussions are brewing around the #FutureOfHR. One of the key elements is being deliberate about the ’employee experience’ at the workplace.
I recently read a fascinating research piece from KPMG, which indicated that organisation that invest in employee experience make four times the profit of those who do not. When I shared it on my account, there were mixed reviews, with many responses airing their concern over the findings. Although many may be skeptical about statistics, I am of the view that the statistics are valuable for the discussion. What intrigued me most was the direct positive correlation between employee experience and customer service.
There is an apparent ongoing positive cycle between customer service, employee service and employee experience. Focused thoughtful customer service brings us satisfied, happy customers. Tailored, focused employee service gives us a positive employee experience that, in turn, leads to a productive workforce and happy customer and happy employees.
COVID-19 sped up the process of change almost overnight. The world found itself amid enforced lockdowns, employees working from home, and the global economy went into a deep dive. HR practitioners faced an unprecedented crisis, and the #FutureOfHR was put squarely on top of the agenda for both organisations and practitioners.
HR practitioners the world over have been forced to bring the employee experience back into focus. It has required many to embrace change, challenge themselves to be innovative and begin to orient themselves with the new and evolving tools available. In many ways, this was precisely what was needed; it was unfortunate that it had to take a pandemic to force the change.
From the recruitment stage to resignation, termination, or retirement, employee experience must be designed, purposeful and engaging. These elements all contribute to the overall experience. However, we must not disregard the relationship between employees, line managers and leadership. The cultural, physical, and technological environment needs to be such that it impacts productivity and retention positively.
I have experienced great ’employee experience’ at some of the companies that I had worked for, from start to when I left. I still remain in touch with those organisations. ‘Employees’ must get the highest quality internal service. This links with the tools, systems, processes, procedures, engagement, and culture that an employee would experience throughout their journey with the organisation.
For many years, remote working was touted as a tool that could be used to enhance employee efficiency and engagement and fundamentally restructure the employee experience. Yet, historically very few firms and HR practitioners actively leveraged this tool in their organisations. Many were left scrambling at the outset of the pandemic when it became clear that remote working would be crucial in keeping their organisations afloat.
The Human Resource practice must continue to challenge itself to innovate and take advantage of changes and development in tools, systems, processes, and technology. Practitioners must now think about how they can innovate around how employees do their work and maintain a positive experience consistent productivity, this is about creating a competitive advantage for their organisations.
While thinking about the competitive advantage, I came across this article which made for an interesting read.
‘HR practices and processes largely determine the employee experience and with-it engagement, energy and commitment to the organisation. HR practices touch more employees than any others in the organisation, so the employee experience is a direct result of HR practice and process and the way they are actioned.’
With so much digital innovation occurring across industries, it is essential to take note that remote work is not the only new way of working indeed cloud computing, data analytics, artificial intelligence, and automation are already significantly impacting the HR practice. These tools must leverage the outcomes related to employee engagement and learning.
To be able to perform our roles effectively and efficiently, we must appreciate the fact that now is the time to be technology savvy. Increased digitisation and automation will take over tasks traditionally belonging to the practitioner. New and rapidly evolving tools and technologies only further prove this with examples such as artificial intelligence taking over mundane tasks as explain by EY’s research and cloud technology automating performance reviews.
Data analytics is already available to help us derive useful information from the numerous data we generate. Essentially, as HR practitioners, we need to be much more up to date with systems and processes that technology can enable us to execute efficiently. There is no doubt that in the past, we have been slow at adopting the technology.
Our role is definitely people-focused, ‘it’s about engagement, and we have to think differently about how that engagement is done. From a learning perspective, we now engage in various Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls- zoom calls, google calls etcetera. We must have the same level of creativity and the same level of engagement that we had when we saw our colleagues face to face and provide that same level of learning if it is to be constructive and meaningful.
The reality is that if we do not do so now, we will be left behind.
The need to change our approach is therefore critical; we cannot rely on the traditional ways of working. Our impact will be less felt and eventually, irrelevant. This is clearly a phased approach, we do not have to declare HR transformation programmes immediately, but we do need to see the low hanging fruits and begin with the best opportunities. It might be that on-the-go performance management tool that would make all the difference now that we are operating virtually.
I have had many questions on how do we manage performance remotely, what tools can be used and what is effective? It calls for investment, but it is a small price to pay for effective up to date systems and processes.
It is an interesting and exciting time we find ourselves, to imagine what we can offer organisations during this period, and I urge fellow practitioners out there to give these suggestions a great deal of thought. This is the time to bring the #FutureOfHR to us here and now. If nothing at all, COVID-19 has reminded us that we are truly relevant to organisations and we can add even more value by being at the forefront of the change.
As the role and responsibilities of the line managers grow to take on people management, some practitioners may feel our role will become expandable. I believe it will rather evolve and there will be a greater need for us to add significant value. We will be required to add much more focus on specialist HR skills, like deeper and greater demand for helping to design culture capability, workforce demand planning, learning capability and people analytics to name but a few. We will begin to see a shift to more agile HR operating models that empower colleagues and business leaders to co-create the employee experience, roles, learning, and jobs using the latest digital tools.
There will be much more focus on what our specialist skills are and what we are bringing to the table. The #FutureOfHR is to bring value from a strategic people-perspective and organisation-perspective. Being able to make input into how organisations can be structured, how we can find innovative ways of developing talent and how we can ensure that we are scanning our industry and environment as well as how we stay way ahead of the competition. Those are the types of insights that will be extremely useful and value-adding to the organisations. Yes, we could argue that this is being done, but to what extent? Now there will be even more focus.
Overall, we the HR practitioners should not become complacent and allow our stock to fall for others to undermine and replace us. We have been reminded of our importance and let us be proud of the work we do. We should stand tall in the face of adversity and be the support our organisations need and expect us to be. Take time out of every day to read up on the recent trends in HR across the world and carry the mantle for the #FutureofHR.
The Human Resource practice must continue to challenge itself to innovate and take advantage of changes and development in tools, systems, processes, and technology. HR practitioners must begin to contemplate their value-add to their organisations. For example, my organisation CarvinClay believes that HR practitioners need to be ready for the future of work. We will be starting tailored Master classes to address these points in the next few weeks.
How does the HR practitioner prepare for this change? the future of work? the future of HR? Get ready and join us for these insightful sessions. This is the time when there is so much reflection going on, and I urge HR practitioners in Africa to continue educating themselves on the future of our profession. Its importance cannot be understated as we have already fallen behind our colleagues in other parts of the world. It seems the time to start, is NOW!