HR Functions: Digitize, Become Irrelevant or Die?

By Beth Giglio, SVP Human Resources, 84.51°

Beth Giglio, SVP Human Resources, 84.51°

The number of articles published on Human Resources’ (HR) digital transformation continues to surge. For me, all these articles suggest that the HR function must evolve to meet the needs of its prospective, as well as existing employees by providing a seamless experience.

The cycle of an employee is pretty much the same as it always has been—prospective candidates apply for a position; they are screened and offered the said position; soon the onboarding process proceeds,; and then, at some point, leave the organization. However, now prospective candidates and existing employees expect more at each of these steps than ever before, and at the heart is the need for technology to ensure easy navigation, on-demand access to information and insights to help personalize every interaction. 

So, how have expectations changed and why do companies and HR functions have to invest in technology to attract and retain top talent?

Let’s start with the pre-employment experience. Candidates today will navigate websites and job postings via mobile methods. They also actively search job posting sites like Glass Door, Indeed, Vault, etc. to read up on your company before they even apply. For Millennials and Gen Z—if your application process isn’t paperless and mobile-friendly, forget it; and if Glass Door or other review sites are negative, prospective candidates will look elsewhere. As an employer, your first digitization efforts must start with first impression areas like posting and creating a positive presence on social media.

"Technology is a key enabler in making prospective candidates’ lives easier"

Once in your talent pipeline, we see companies invest in everything from advanced artificial intelligence for pre-screening and selection to the use of video conferencing, on-demand chat functions, and other tools to enable an anytime, anywhere interview scheduling experience. Technology is a key enabler in making prospective candidates’ lives easier. 

Now let’s say you already have great digital solutions for the prospective candidate milestones. What happens after they have accepted? There are platforms that allow new hires to upload much of their info in advance to ensure smooth onboarding. It also includes the ability for a company and new managers to quickly engage with a pre-hire to plan his/her first day. 

So now that you have new hires, what is their onboarding experience like? Do they go through traditional lecture style onboarding or hours of pre-recorded modules or do they have on-demand personalized solutions across different media (experiential, simulations, virtual, etc. and Learning Management Solutions (LMS)? We recently implemented Pathgather (recently purchased by degreed) to act as our content aggregator to help build and store seamless, sustainable onboarding processes as well as ongoing learning, leveraging a non-LMS platform. Employees today, more than ever, expect instant answers and fun, engaging learning experiences. Have you incorporated simulations and gamification in your training toolkit?  Figuring out how to share best in class learning is no longer the job of HR. We must find ways to decentralize and democratize education. The job of HR is to provide the digital platforms needed for others to build on top of—so that functional learning and learning from great leaders is at everyone’s fingertips.

We know that the average tenure of an employee is 4.6 years which is up from the early 80’s when it was only 3.5, according to Forbes. We also know that an employee’s number one cited reason for leaving is feeling under-appreciated and appreciation is a major contributor to employee satisfaction, so that begs the question—how is your company able to give any time/anywhere feedback and recognition to your employees from other employees? The best and highly engaged companies have on-demand feedback and recognition solutions which are integrated so that they are easy to use and can be integrated with all other feedback tools.

While I could continue to write about the need for digitization requirements to cover other parts of HR, it would just simply reinforce how I started this article. At the end of the day, we know the demand for critical talent will continue to increase. In Korn Ferry Institute’s latest report, they suggest that by 2030 we will experience a shortage of more than 85 million workers worldwide.  Anyway you look at it, the expectations for prospective and existing employees will continue to increase, while defining and maximizing the employee experience will be critical to attracting and retaining talent. Your HR function must invest to keep up so that the right digital solutions and the right HR talent are put in place within the cycle of the employee so that we and other business leaders can focus on the highest value areas—connecting, developing and recognizing employee contributions, not navigating antiquated HR systems. 

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