Goodbye, Human Resources. Hello, employee experience

José Luis Rodríguez

31 May 2016

The technological revolution and need to transform the organization into an agile and innovative ecosystem able to connect all its areas of intelligence has put the role of Human Resources departments in the Company 2.0 into debate.

HR professionals agree on the same point: their function should not already evolve but instead change radically to attract, make loyal, empower, and align all possible talent with a more disruptive vision of the business adapted to new values, habits, and needs of the 21st Century.

The big question, nonetheless, is how to achieve this objective and what capacities and competencies should everyone develop to achieve it.

Although departments in charge of managing workforces have a different understanding of the digital transformation, sometimes a vague one, they keep an eye on in the importance of creating an entirely different human relations framework within their companies.

Often, they do it with the excitement of knowing key components of change management. Many others, paralyzed by the fearing of staying out of the game in the face of pushes of other areas like Marketing, Technology, or Communications, and even, surpassing the sense of urgency coming from a CEO with a broad knowledge, vision, and greater expectations for the connected company.

From people manager to knowledge and experience facilitator

The HR person’s first mission is to reinvent his or herself. According to Deloitte’s 2016 Global Human Capital Trends study, the objective doesn’t have to be so much managing talent but instead developing experiences for the employee that promote:

  • a new work environment that’s more dynamic and innovative, with new digital solutions and competencies supporting it;
  • a culture of collaboration, transparency, and participation;
  • simpler and more efficient decision-making, at all levels;
  • Greater access and management of information at work;
    an adequate human and professional development.

This is redesigning nearly all tasks from choosing and welcoming employees to performance evaluations or assigning incentives and rewards. And all under a focus where the collaborator’s bond supports itself in relatively new disciplines such as design thinking, Appreciative Inquiry or “behavioral economics” and HR Analytics.

Along these lines, the work levers for the new HR professionals-who we renamed here at Good Rebels years ago as “Culture and Talent Management”-, would become:

1. Connected organization

Analyzing, improving, or designing processes supported by collaborative platforms and techniques, stimulate shared knowledge management and a more distributed or horizontal decision-making.
That way, just like we said some years ago on Rebel Thinking (previously known as TcBlog), it will be able to foster internal communication, speed up learning, promote innovative, reinforce the employees’ sense of belonging, and thus make the company more efficient. This will just as much achieve a real community of practices, like a network society on the same wavelength of vision and action as the company’s clients and users.

2. Developing teams and leadership

Supporting professionals’ growth within the organization using programs and activities that promote awareness, enablement, and digital empowerment that more than just offer concrete pathways that let the collaborator detect self-learning areas and define their professional and brand expertise. That means: Human Resources departments must migrate from a training provider position to one of content curation and facilitation.

At this juncture, it’s fundamental that they contribute to the development of leadership-related capabilities that are understood not as a hierarchical refusal but instead as the responsibility of making teams grow and connect with corporate culture. There are fundamental aspects of emotion management, conflict resolution, public and interpersonal communication, or ethic-based influence generation.

3. Organizational culture and internal bonding

Understanding cultural models –ways of working- that best adapt to the company’s vision and objectives, helping to align corporate values with the behavior of every single one of its collaborators.

To do this, it’s imperative to supply oneself with models of analysis that contribute to knowing employees’ real needs and expectations all the time. It’s about moving from a performance evaluation to another measure of an internal bond.

4. Employee experience

Facilitating or opening up activities to improve the perception employees have of their position or workplace, and this way, incentivizing their commitment and emotional ties to the company.

It involves applying methods and principles from Marketing and service design (both in the physical and functional components of the professional spaces) where the customer experience both on and offline is fundamental. Chief among them is the development of creating or studies of the Customer Journey and the key points of contact for the employee and their organization (vacation requests, team meetings, access to internal information…).

Autonomy, flexibility, recognition, participation, social diversity, equality, horizontal growth, the common good, and volunteering are some of the key terms at this point. They are, and more as time goes on, to those used to describe a typical benefits package (salary, work-life balance, job security, accessibility…).

And in “connected” corporate environments, holding events or marking milestones that give sense to a group, like designing healthy office spaces that are social and ergonomically attractive where working can have memorable moments, as Airbnb claims.

5. Analytics and statistics

If we say that data is the fuel of the 21st centuries-and the organization internally is a rich and varied source of them-Human Resources should give, little by little, importance to the necessary technology and intelligence to take advantage of it.

It doesn’t mean that area experts become data scientists, although they should round out their teams with them. What’s most pertinent is that they develop their vision of the business based on empirical, not just inferred knowledge, of everything that impacts their work. Beyond that: that their decisions are always backed up with metrics and indicators.

Only 5 percent of organizations see themselves prepared for analyzing and understanding talent inside companies, according to a study from CEB.

The actual difference, at this point, is:

  • be capable of understanding the variables that are part of managing people, from recruiting to employee engagement;
  • do it in real time;
  • creating narratives that help to describe and visualize the company’s achievements and needs, under a strategic umbrella and not under micromanagement;
  • and generate predictive models, like proposing HR Analytics that optimize and provide greater intelligence to all decisions.
6. Digital solutions ecosystem

Managing, getting to know, or at least, understanding digital applications and solutions the organization users to position the brand, exchange knowledge internally and externally, relates with clients or develop new products and services. This point includes, without a doubt, exploring mobile and cloud solutions that make managing people easy.

Above all, HR’s function should dominate and exploit online productivity and collaboration tools to their fullest, that have been adopted by many internal collaborators by default. For example, editing documents together or reducing the noise level stemming from email can be done to organize meetings remotely.

7. Employer branding

Becoming familiar with and bring order to the organization’s social and cultural activities, or better said, the activities, tasks, and methods that give the company internal life make the workplace different, unique, and special and make their employer branding proposal more attractive.

Human Resources professionals, working with their partners in Communications, need to strengthen the company’s position and support from their employees like ideation, production, and dissemination of content that stimulation both internal adherence and attracting talent to the enterprise.

These stories, based on new formats and far from all paternalistic temptations, come together to create a valuable source for connecting client emotions with company values. But it also works to stimulate collaborators’ participation on corporate blogs and internal social networks, and with that, support their professional growth.

The great challenge that HR professionals have to tackle is taking the vision, knowledge, and digital capabilities that the Business 2.0 requires and demanding nearly the same to their founders, employees, and their clients.

Maybe tomorrow nobody will identify their department by “Human Resources, ” and in a not-too-distant future these activities either disappear or are completely distributed throughout the whole organization.

Its mission is none other than turning itself into an actual change agent and a principal actor in the digital transformation.