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Accelerating Digital HR during- and post COVID-19

The future of HR in the face of COVID-19

The impact of COVID-19 has triggered an acceleration of Digital HR, as new ways of working forced organizations to tap into their technologies and pushed creative ways of leveraging them. Explore how your organization can strengthen the digital base of HR and unleash the true power of HR Technology.

This blog was co-written by Lotte Vermeer, Claudia Visser and Henri Drogulski

This blog is part of a blog series around how HR needs to start reimagining their future to thrive in the post COVID-19 world. Click on the button on the right to find the full overview of the blog series.


The COVID-19 crisis continues to evolve and has drastically changed all parts of society. This crisis is proving to be an unexpected stress test for HR and for HR technology – surfacing unknown gaps and leveraging new creative digital solutions. At the same time, this pandemic brings a new reality: a high demand for virtual working, with easy, intuitive and ‘waterproof’ systems, accessible at any time from any location. This is essential in maintaining the continuity of work, as almost every employee is being forced to switch to a different and/or remote way of working. From an employee perspective, this results in work and personal life being more interlinked than ever and causing new experiences of work. From an organizational angle, it is key to stay connected to your employees.

Whereas this crisis surfaced weaknesses in the existing digital HR landscape (e.g. lack of integrations between systems), it also offers an opportunity for HR to take the lead and model how the rest of the organization can thrive in a continuously disrupted environment by applying more digital ways of working. Organizations that already invested in a flexible and robust HR Technology landscape, were -and still are- able to easily and quickly respond when COVID-19 started impacting their businesses.

In this blog we will respond to the crisis by showcasing how organizations can make targeted improvements in their existing HR Technology landscape. We will highlight the opportunity for HR to take the lead in becoming Digital and using this as momentum to challenge HR to be forward looking and innovative in their next steps – we achieve this by applying Deloitte’s robust HR Technology Quick Scan. In a time where priorities seem to constantly change, now is the moment to strengthen the digital base of HR and unleash the true power of HR Technology.

Unleashing HR Technology to lead the way
Organizations that have previously invested in their HR Technology landscape were better positioned to sustain their operations and respond quickly to the needs of the business. This has given HR the momentum to take the lead in accelerating to digital. As Josh Bersin stated: ‘everyone agreed that the multi-year digital transformation their company was doing was suddenly accelerated to a few weeks. Every system, tool and enablement platform has to work now’ (read full article here ). The results of the Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends Survey (2020) underpin this acceleration, as it indicates that one of the key impact areas for HR is integrating automation in the way work gets done. The report also indicates that one of the changes to maximize HRs’ impact, will be ‘adopting enablers: deploying advanced technology to promote productivity and value and simplify the experience (please read the full report here)’ . This crisis emphasizes the need to elevate digital HR capabilities and change the old ways of working. For example, a COVID response FAQ chatbot or virtual agent for your organization could be the first step in taking the plunge into utilizing cognitive technologies in HR. But also, impactful improvements could be just around the corner: HCM and Engagement Platform vendors release frequent updates and enhancements that are not always optimally leveraged. Besides that, increasing the efficiency and complexity of reporting to get visibility into consequences of business disruption could be a quick win during and after the COVID-19 crisis.

How the HR Technology Quick Scan can help
So, how could HR departments identify gaps in their infrastructure and make adjustments in order to thrive again? To support organizations in their switch to Digital HR, we are frequently apply our HR Technology Quick Scan to rapidly identify HR technology weak spots, discover untapped potential and innovative new solutions. What we see in practice is, that this provides great insights towards a more robust HR Technology landscape, which improves efficiency, safeguard business continuity, and boost the employee experience - all significantly important for businesses during and post crisis.

We see that within approximately 3-4 weeks, organizations are equipped with targeted digital improvement initiatives, to resolve current gaps and to take the next step forward in being digital and innovative. This process is built upon Deloitte’s Digital HR Maturity Framework, which is hypothesis driven and can lead to quick turnaround times for prototyping solutions. In this four step approach (see figure 1), we will jointly identify challenges and set up a clear plan to improve, including rapid prototyping of one solution:

  1. Intake – During the first intake step, core issues are identified, and set hypotheses on how it can be solved while keeping the main goals and ambitions in mind. This step is grounded in the company’s Digital HR Strategy.
  2. Prepare - The Digital HR Maturity Scan is prepared based on the specific needs and the unique situation of your organization.
  3.  Scan - During an interactive solutioning session the Digital HR Maturity Assessment is conducted and the current state and desired future state of each of the model’s items are determined.
  4. Prototype – The outcomes will be assessed and advice is provided on the best way to move forward. This is also where we typically see organizations start prototyping to rapidly deliver data-driven results.  
Figure 1. High level overview of the HR Technology Quick Scan approach

Now is the time to accelerate digital HR
This crisis has fundamentally changed the way we live and the way we work and offers the possibility for HR leaders to accelerate to digital. The importance of this digital transformation has been foreseen for years, but is now forced upon HR – faster than everyone could imagine. Although these are challenging times, this should not be the time to stand still. Now is the time to think forward and embrace the true power of Digital HR. Don’t hesitate but start. It’s a journey and like many journey the initial few steps are key. Assess your current state in detail and based on these outcomes pave the lane for a successful journey. Impact focused.


In addition to Digital HR, we acknowledge that each organization has different needs and requires a unique combination of solutions. Therefore, we have developed six point solutions (see here) for the questions we believe are keeping CHROs awake at night. Feel free to reach out to Bart Moen, Norman Smit or Vincent Okkersen (see below) and stay tuned for the upcoming blogs!

Blog series: The future of HR in the face of Covid-19

See the full overview of the blog
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