Embarking on a digitization and digitalization journey is an intensive change management exercise. The modern-day HR organization is an evolved form of the nascent organization, more customer-centric than ever. In fact, it is often the HR organization that initiates a digital transformation exercise, and this begins with building a solid business case by answering the What and How of digital transformation. Here’s how.
HR at the Centre of Digital Transformation
Two approaches to digital transformation exist- the HR digital transformation piece and the pan-organization journey, each of these varying from nascent to mature stages. Often, HR transformation is the kickstarting lever, with HR leaders coming together to solve a business problem. This stems from today’s HR being more customer-centric than user-centric and upholding the employee experience with empathy. This is also a result of HR leaders becoming more open to technology, whether it is about transitioning to the cloud or about taking data-based decisions. As HR caters to an increasingly consumeristic digital-native customer, it is putting the employee at the center of talent decisions. This approach has transformed HR into a more tech-savvy and employee-empathizing role that embraces digital in a bid to create the best employee experiences.
How HR leaders are driving digital
Sky-high expectations arise from digital natives demanding a Facebook-like experience. At the same time, a multi-generational workforce that is starting to embrace digital is forcing today’s HR leaders to rethink digital. As HR leaders work closely with the business, they are expected to manage multiple stakeholders in driving the digital transformation agenda:
- CIO: The HR organization must uphold the apt checks and balances process-wise, to ensure the data-security ask.
- CEO or Promoter: As CEOs increasingly get involved in curating the right employee experience while driving productivity, the CHRO must strike the right balance.
- Business heads: Talking the business language requires HR to provide businesses with the right data for decision-making.
- HR teams: HR teams must be able to streamline HR processes to bring digital life.
- Employees: Today’s employee wants a digital-first experience and HR is the custodian of this. HR must apply the core principles of Connectivity, Personalization, Transparency, and Interactivity in the transformation elements to cultivate such a desired employee experience.
The CHRO must don the digital lens to relook at decisions, processes, and systems. But digitalization is more than mere digitization, it is about influencing the CXO suite and making them see the digital impact of HR. It is about getting manager buy-ins and getting managers to use digital by highlighting the long-term time-effort savings and productivity gains. Above all, it is about enabling and empowering people to rightly use the digital facilities for timely and accurate decisions.
A Change Management Exercise
To propagate such a digital priority, HR roles have to change. The new avatar of HR in a digital world will be about performance and talent managers, leadership coaches, productivity champions etc. This will be a clear demarcation from the other primary HR role of the digital HR manager, who will be mainly responsible for technologies, learning portals, communication etc.
More than HR roles, attitudes must change. Change management forms the crux of any digital transformation. HR must act as change champions, identifying people who understand the change and then seeping it organization-wide. Managers need to own up and pioneer the change, this will define success or failure. The fact remains that technology cannot bring empathy, it cannot coach; hence what matters is the “how of change”. A well-thought-out change management strategy with steps such as ‘change need identification’, ‘impact analysis of change’ and ‘communication of the change’ are essential to digital transformation success. HR must involve people on the ground level and take people in their confidence by outlining the WIIFM for their customers.
Any change exercise requires constant monitoring and measurement. While digital is easy to quantify through metrics such as benefits, adoption, etc.; it is critical to gauge the level of engagement. HR must move away from ‘concepts in the air’ and must define the baselines for digital experience and digital efficiency. A standard framework that can prove useful can involve:
- Assessment of adoption metrics such as usage paid events etc.
- Measurement of digitization-fit metrics such as a number of processes that have transitioned to digital, efficiencies, man-hour savings, etc.
- Evaluation of the employee experience i.e. ease of activities that employees are witnessing.
To build sustained virtual-expertise and digital-savvy, HR must start truly connecting with employees using digital media. This begins with HR using those digital media themselves. HR must stop distrusting and finding excuses as to why something will not work. Above all, HR must continue learning, questioning, exploring what can be done better, all with the garb of empathy for the employee.