Las Vegas and Amsterdam Shows Explore Strategic and Transformative HR Futures

What is HR transformation? According to The Economist, the term refers to the massive, ongoing restructuring of corporate HR departments to provide greater value to the business. Before HR transformation, HR professionals had largely been seen as administrators not involved in high-level strategic discussions.

Unleash Amsterdam 2017

HR Tech World, now called Unleash, drilled into HR transformation experiences at its 2017 show in Amsterdam. The moral of these stories: Evolve HR to harness the efficiencies and competitive advantages that technological and procedural change can bring. Here’s a look at several:

  • “We Came in Like a Wrecking Ball,” from William Ingham, Chief Executive, Organizational Change and HR, at Visa, Inc. The Visa HR organization has had a critical role in driving continuous transformation through disruptive technology and processes that enabled Visa to recruit one-third of its workforce and rebuild 80 percent of its HR team over 12 months.
  • “Connect your HR Strategy to your Business Strategy,” by Addie van Rooij, VP Worldwide People Operations, at HP Enterprise, presented the best of traditional HR and HR transformation practices. Fundamentals remain important. While you increase dialogue with individuals in your workforce to identify roadblocks, you still need an HR system strategy that ties into the overall HR vision and business objectives.
  • “Mastering Talent Acquisition Transformation with Outstanding People and Partners,” from Dr. Sebastian Hubert, Global Head of Strategy, Technologies, and Talent Acquisition, at Siemens, stressed the importance of the candidate experience in transformative recruitment activities. The session shared effective ways organizations can leverage a consumer-level candidate experience to enable them to recruit more efficiently.
  • “How Damen Shipyards makes the switch to modern HR systems,” from Arold de Vries, Group HR Director, at Damen Shipyards Group, featured an HR transformation that sailed close to home. Using Lumesse ETWeb™ empower talent management software, Damen is securely and centrally storing its employee data, and facilitating faster distribution of staff resources toward projects, learning, and employee advancement opportunities.

Is HR Transformation Working? KPMG 2017 Findings

At HR Tech Las Vegas 2017, Big Four consulting firm KPMG highlighted a hot-off-the-presses global study of HR transformation, presented by Mike DiClaudio, a principal and KPMG’s U.S. HR transformation leader. DiClaudio’s discussion, “Transforming HR in a New World of Work: 2017 HR Transformational Survey Findings,” detailed a KPMG study that spanned 850 companies of various size across 48 countries.

One constant KPMG has identified over the past 20 years is that there are two pools of organizations. Pool 1 consists of those adopting HCM cloud, shared-service models, and who have proven successful at change management. Pool 2 represents those which, for whatever reason, wait too long to innovate the HR function. Neither pool should be characterized as good or bad, he said, but Pool 2 has some catching up to do in terms of being strategic. And yes, your HR organization might be a hybrid of Pool 1 and Pool 2.

Pool 2 users operate with many forms and no direct access for participants. Pool 2’s “no direct access shortcoming” results in the failure to make employees feel connected and as if they have an important role in the organization’s future. However, don’t jump to conclusions: The problem with candidate or employee engagement may not be how satisfied candidates and employees are with the role, work tools, or your brand. “People don’t leave their companies, they leave managers,” DiClaudio said.

Ouch, that smarts. So what are we doing wrong?

Managers need a mix of ERP, budgetary and technology management capabilities, as well as coaching, career guidance and other talent management skills. They must not only inspire ideation, but be their own innovators toward enterprise production and efficiency. Additionally, they must have the data-driven toolset to harness the positives of their direct reports.

What Is Truly Strategic HR Transformation?

The value starts with volume recruiting efficiencies through strategic automation – for instance, bots scanning not only an active or passive candidate’s resume but also his or her social media feed where they may be maligning their previous employer. (Note to serious employees/candidates: Don’t rant about your Ex, unless you accept the possible consequences.) In terms of volume and smart sourcing benefits, your HR person might scan 5 candidates and say to the hiring team, “Here are your choices.” The bot says, “I’ve scanned 5,000 candidates and here is a diversity of 7 or 8 potentials.”

Don’t ignore the people component of a technological and process change across your organization, KPMG advised. Ensure that the transformation is geared for your employees, managers, executives, board room… Most important, ensure that the transformation benefits the customer. Companies that do this represent Pool 1, about which DiClaudio said, “These adopters have been pretty successful."

My right arm starts to twitch, wanting to ask a question. Fortunately, someone else is also still concerned about the probable decline of human value and jobs under the oft-exaggerated but real threat of AI and automation.

“Robotics is an augmentation of your business,” DiClaudio said. Humans have to sleep. So, for 24x7 visitor support on your e-commerce or career site, assign a chat bot. Meanwhile, in recruiting, natural language processing offers an automated option for conducting initial interviews with candidates, thus removing some of the screening time and burden.

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