The case for HR technology transformation or HR digital transformation is clear- it ups productivity, engages employees better and helps align talent operations with business outcomes. It is no surprise that organizations are moving fast to digitalize HR.
Over 70% of organizations in Asia-Pacific are looking to increase their HR technology spending. -Sierra-Cedar 2018-19 HR Systems Survey White Paper
Leaders must understand that HR digital transformation is not merely about implementing new technologies and platforms. It is a complete overhaul in the technologies, systems, processes, and ways of working and must be treated from a change management perspective.
The Impact of HR Technology Transformation
Technology was mostly relegated to operational HR processes until now. For example, payroll and attendance were found to be the top-most HR tech applications in use in Asia Pacific at 89% and 88% usage. Talent interventions like career planning and business intelligence were observed to be the least used apps with 34% and 32% usage respectively. Going ahead, HR technology will become more ingrained in day-to-day work, impacting people in ways never known before. We are already hearing reports about job losses due to automation, a definite anxiety-trigger for working populations. With digitalization, the basic fundamentals of how work is done will change, demanding new skills, new approaches and new mindsets. Technology will become all-immersive and intersperse every employee-touchpoint, and its success would be determined by how employees don the “digital mindset” in this sea of change. HR can aid this transition by being informed and responsive to how a typical HR transformation journey actually works.
Understanding the Digitalization Journey
Going fully digital takes time, effort and resources as the organization passes through various stages. HR leaders must assess the current and future states to make the transformation work for real. From business as usual, to driving various digital initiatives across the organization, the organization evolves. The next step is to move from adhoc to formalized i.e. to build the business case for the exercise. The next succession is to design the strategic interventions, based on the business roadmap. In this stage, the power of shared collaboration often comes to light, creating a “converged” stage, where the “What, Why and How” makes sense as a core team of experts is established. As leaders navigate the changes, they strive to reach the ultimate stage- “Innovative and Adaptive”, and operate in a distinctly new digital ecosystem. Along each stage, employees will exhibit resistance to change, and it is critical to take them along the change journey to make it sustainable.
Checklist for HR leaders:
HR leaders can keep the following pointers in mind to lead the transformation successfully:
A solid case: While random digital endeavours may support the cause, a true HR technology transformation begins with a comprehensive use-case which outlines the business-benefits and buy-in from senior leaders for budget and support.
Strategic Plan: Built upon the use-case is a well-defined strategic roadmap for alignment with business outcomes, detailed project plans with a change-management roadmap, holistic communication campaigns, training and support, and monitoring techniques. This also means putting together a dedicated team of experts to spearhead the change and operational experts to bring functional expertise in areas such as Artificial Intelligence, Data and Analytics, Cloud, Social, Mobile etc.
Cultural shifts: With digitalization, leaders must get ready to embrace the new values of openness, transparency, decentralization of power, continuous learning, agility, sharing, collaboration etc. The organizational vision, mission, and values may need to be reconceptualized, from bottom-up. HR must flesh out the culture-change agenda so as to elicit the desired behaviors in people.
Learning mindset: A significant contributor to successful HR transformation is a continuous learning outlook. New skills will need to be bought or built, and L&D and business leaders must invest in employee development. L&D and HR must pay attention to how employees are equipped to use the new systems, learning-empowerment tools and must also encourage self-learning and self-servicing.
Assess performance and engage: What do you wish to achieve through the transformation? HR leaders along with the core team must define the success factors, and continuously measure them. Along with assessment and training, it is important to engage and enthuse employees to actually use the new technologies. So there must be definite incentivization to encourage employees to perform well in the new ecosystem.
Holistic integration: The final architecture of an HR transformation must involve a holistic integration of all talent management and business processes. HR must work closely with business functions and IT (CTO) in particular to enable this enterprise-wide integration. Take key decisions such as combining legacy systems with new cloud-centric systems, ensuring flow of data for evidence-based decision making, and single-point governance and management of the digital architecture.
Policy and governance: With digital ways of working, a new work ethos will become the new normal. The new processes, workflows, and values call for new governance mechanisms and rules and therein, policy upgrades.
Continuous assessment: An HR technology transformation is never a one-time intervention. Organizations are in it for the long haul, as technology changes rapidly. Hence HR must design measures and metrics for periodic assessment so as to be on the track of success.
With these aspects in mind, HR leaders can equip themselves to act as game-changers. They must hone their change management skills along the way, and also actively involve the recipients of change i.e. the employees. Only then can the organization progress towards the future reality- a digital-led productive and engaging world of work, which is effective and sustainable.