Six habits of high-impact HR organisations

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Five habits of high-impact HR organisations

Tuning in to what motivates and engages people

In today’s fast-paced world, supporting the people side of the business is getting harder. With digital technology redefining work and the workforce, HR needs to reinvent itself to increase its impact. How? It’s all about tuning in to what motivates and engages the people we want to work for us. On or off payroll.

This blog is based on the keynote speech of David Mallon - Head of research, Bersin by Deloitte - at the HR top 100 event on the 7th of December at the Maastoren in Rotterdam. 

Looking at the HR space today, as Deloitte has done in its 2017 Human Capital Trends report, we notice that major change is underway. While 43% of HR organisations worldwide are still at ground floor level, performing their traditional tasks, one level up are 23% of organisations where HR is keen to become really good at this, using digital tools. At the third level, another 22% see themselves as partners and consultants, actively empowering the business. Finally, the top 12%, level 4, is made up of HR pioneers that are leading the digital transformation of their organisations. That’s the attitude we need to stay ahead in the changing world of work. So let’s examine what these high-impact HR organisations are doing.

Learning from marketeers and designers

Today’s high-impact HR organisations have looked hard at the way their design and marketing colleagues work: Designers and marketeers find out everything they can about their customers – what they want, what interests them, what their problems are - and apply the latest digital technology to all this data to create the perfect customer experience. This is all very standard – until you transfer it to HR. Most HR departments don’t have a fraction of this information on their workers, but high-impact ones are busy getting it. Because they realise that the people who work for the organisation are HR’s customers.
So what if you apply that worker-centric approach to recruitment, for example? Design a process wholly from the candidate’s point of view? The result might be far more tuned to the smartphone generation, and include an app, game elements and discovery.

Creating a compelling employer brand

Once aboard, what keeps your workers engaged? Money alone is not the answer, the data shows. Like today’s marketeers, high-impact HR organisations try to offer workers better experiences. In practical ways, by designing smooth, user-friendly HR processes. By helping them with the work-life balance. And in fundamental ways, by offering workers a purpose and a set of values that they can identify with. By creating a culture of trust, inclusion and accountability. By enabling continuous learning. In other words, by creating an employer brand that’s authentic and that workers want to be a part of.

But will this work? Is employee retention a realistic goal in the 21st century? Job hopping is the norm and the average tenure of employees is now down to 4.5 years. Besides, these days a significant percentage of the workforce is not on the organisation’s payroll at all. What if, after all you’ve invested in them, your people walk out? Closely tracking their development can help to head off problems, but you may as well accept that people are going to leave at some point. And shift the focus from retention to getting the most out of them while they’re with you. Besides, whatever you invested, remains invested in your brand. Leavers who have learned and developed in your organisation will still be partners and brand ambassadors. And consider the alternative: not investing in your people, because you‘re afraid to lose them. Now that’s a classic example of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Thinking outside the company box

For years now, vendors have played an indispensable role in supporting our organisations, but if we dare to offer them trust, they can become true partners. Big IT names, for example, hedge their risks and increase their flexibility by outsourcing even business-critical R&D to freelance creatives and startups. Large corporations help build an ecosystem, a community in which the best ideas can thrive. One company that was having difficulty finding workers with a particular skill set chose to partner with the local authorities in founding a school. Many graduates joined the company, but they were under no obligation. Meanwhile, similar companies migrated to the area to benefit from the school. A community was born.

Platforms held together by culture

Silicon Valley’s brood of peer-to-peer platforms work overwhelmingly with non-payroll parties. The “hosts” renting out their homes or the drivers providing taxi services are not employees, but they do determine the customer experience of platform users. So the platforms are working to build a strong culture and employer brand that reaches beyond their employees to encompass all who provide services under their flag. A challenge and a trend that is becoming mainstream.

Becoming invisible

Finally, a key trait of high-impact HR is the way it’s losing its identity as a separate part of the organisation, and becoming more and more integrated into every corner of it. Boards increasingly include a CHRO or Chief People Officer with a big say in core business decisions. These executives don’t even always have an HR background, but have rotated into this role because HR experience is an indispensable step in their career. After all, as digital technology changes the future of work, human skills and their management will more than ever become the make or break of an organisation.

Are you interested in increasing the impact of your HR organisation? Download our 2017 Human Capital Trends Report and stay tuned for the Human Capital Trends report available as from beginning of April 2018.

Stay tuned:

Human Capital Trends report 2018

available as from the beginning of April

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