Almost all companies throughout the world are in some stage of digital transformation – from a local retailer trying to make it big online to a manufacturer moving to automation and robotics. For some, this process has been accelerated with the current challenges raised by the COVID-19 pandemic. Just like everything in an organization, the role of HR is undergoing a massive metamorphosis. HR has come a long way from operating in closed conference rooms to holding a C-suite position. Nowadays, the role of HR in planning and driving calculated growth is as significant as technology or business leadership. Ahead of the core operational propositions of digital transformation, the CEOs of companies that are administering change of this kind are looking at rethinking the HR function and the role of its leader, the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO).
Progressive CEOs now expect CHROs to be business leaders, playing a substantial part in the operating committee, and contributing informed opinions on the future of the business and how the organization operates to reach its business objectives. The CEO and the CHRO are often the only two people in the C-suite who oversee how the whole organization works together across business units, functions, and geography.
The CHRO of today needs to be thinking digital. They should be able to use data and analytics to inform the executive team on everything - from recruiting ability to retention to workforce planning and analysis. Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation help CHROs in enabling the business strategy, making the employee experience better, and the company more agile.
Prior to finding the ‘right’ HR tools, it is imperative for the CHRO to understand exactly what the CEO really wants from the HR function:
Winning the War for Talent in a candidate driven market – Recruitment is often the first touchpoint candidates have with an organization. Companies have witnessed a seismic shift in sourcing, interviewing and hiring. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations are having to innovate even more rapidly in this space. The world is moving towards ‘low touch’ or even ‘no touch’ hiring. Automated sourcing and screening tools, online assessment tools like ‘Mercer Mettl or SHL’, Candidate Relationship Management tool like ‘Phenom People’ are being used to manage the Applicant Tracking System as well as assist in Employer Branding. The interview process has changed from in-person to video platforms like Modern Hire or the use of Microsoft TEAMS. In addition, Interview Process automation tools and Post Interview Engagement tools are increasingly being used. Once a candidate is hired, the onboarding process has also become virtual. Some organizations are using VR technology to give candidates a tour of the facilities. All of these can be one tool/platform or a mix of well-integrated tools to provide seamless ‘first’ experience to a probable candidate. Technology needs to enhance the candidate experience and that needs to remain front and centre when choosing a solution in this space.
Advisory Services – The CEO wants HR staff to be lock step with the business in meeting its goals and acting as advisors to the business. This requires time. To achieve this, the CHRO needs to cover the basics, get the operations right, i.e. invest in a ‘hire to retire’ seamless system like ‘Workday HRIS’. Software that drives a self-service approach is more akin to the real digital world most of us inhabit where we have a plethora of tools at our fingertips 24/7. Increasingly employees are demanding a similar seamless experience at work, and CHROs are looking at tools powered by AI enabled chatbots to enable this. Other considerations are geographic reach and data integrity. In an increasingly globalized world, being able to pull data on a global scale is imperative to any digitization journey. Ultimately, the more automated the basics are, the more time HR staff will have to work towards core advisory services related to strategic matters like the employee experience.
Employee Development and Succession Planning – This is one of the most critical needs of the CEO and Board. Making the right choice around the multiple Learning & Development tools in the market is critical for the success of the organization. Interestingly, remote learning, virtual instructor-led training (VILT) has become the new method for learning and development. There has been an increase in virtual training through webinars, virtual conferences, and podcasts. Having a system that supports this and enables a multi-faceted learning experience to accommodate the variety of learning needs employees have, is important. Increasingly, CHROs are looking at an integrated tech option that enables a linking of performance, development and mobility which can ultimately help in the all-important Succession Planning.
An important consideration in all of this of course is cost. The extensive discussion around AI and machine learning is pushing companies to invest in technology, but this is not always coupled with knowledge on how to use it optimally. Having a clear business case and effort-impact estimates, alongside the right skills to leverage the tech once implemented, will be critical to ensure effective return on investment.
Starting with the end in mind and selecting tools that will enable the business goals will drive a stronger outcome for the digital transformation in HR. CHROS are advised to consider how they will mimic the ease with which people interact with technology in the real world and bring that into their work journey. Executive support can make or break your efforts, so CHROs need to consider how they build a robust business case for investment. And finally, CHROs would do well to consider how they skill up their own HR organization.