Andrew Scales, Head of Employee Rewards and Systems, Domain
Are you ready for the future of AI, ML, and Cloud enabled HR? Most organisations recognise that we now live in a world of work, where the employees’ access to technology is greater in the retail market instead of within their workplace. However, the investment to create a connected system of experience is limited. The archaic databases of the past remain intact, and the new bolt on connections are limited with employees still unable complete work when and where they need to. But company leaders should beware, the employees of today need this flexibility with increasingly more saying they choose companies that design for their needs and will allow for remote and flexible working.
The big question for HR leaders is, with many options and choices, “where do I start?” Here are my top picks for 2020.
1. Cloud-based technologies will make self-service a reality
The new Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS) has delivered against the age old ask and has finally shifted control from HR to managers and now employees themselves. It is no longer adequate to rely on service level agreements (SLAs) that provide monthly, or even weekly, reports to managers and leaders. We need on demand, real-time access to the data ourselves to cut it how they want it, when they want it. With Cloud-based technologies this is possible. HR leaders build the framework and infrastructure that facilitates the manager and employees to update their data, pull views and insights on their teams, and offers the ability to put change requests through that the business can approve. If designed well, the approval process and governance oversight time will reduce, cutting out non-essential approvals and streamlining to core approvals. It is no longer an era where multiple layers of approval are required to simply inform various people across the functions and business. It is time to reduce it down to key decision makers, ideally two to three approvers only, and the rest can use dashboards and reporting that they can run at any time to check status or provide change lists for their information. Before you know it, data is updated and maintained by leaders, shifting the role of HR to value added services to consult and support the use of data to improve employee experience. Imagine a world where bad data is a thing of the past; where it is no longer acceptable for inaccurate views and blame of various internal teams. It is time to shift internal teams toward the governance and controls of the data. With systematic reviews to ensure that the data is fit for purpose. Let us elevate beyond accuracy and shift the insight. Cloud-based technologies are step one of making this possible.
2. Design for your end-user. Information is power, but curation of content is necessary
Content is everywhere; stuck and housed on laptops, in brains, offline, and online.
As companies face increased competition and disruption to their industries, employees need access to relevant, changing content daily. We need to move away from controlling the data to controlling the system. Companies that have mastered their knowledge base and can provide dynamic content curated in a way that helps with decision making will win in the market. Empowered HR teams have specialists who own and configure modules fit for the company demands in these cloud-based technologies. These teams focus on the user journeys and repeated searches to improve design and help with the changing needs of employees each day. Data insights help HR to configure and to understand the users and adapt as the users themselves provide feedback on what they need. Today, it is not about releasing perfect modules. It is about delivering minimal viable products (MVP) into the cloud to improve the incremental experience. We need faster timely response times, and early feedback on errors. HR’s role is shifting from maintaining systems and data bases of content, to evolving knowledge-based environments to meet demand. Our philosophy needs to shift to “See an improvement, improve it.” It is not about whether it is right or wrong, it is about whether the content is available and used. The questions designers now need to answer is “How can I give employees and managers the tools to create their own content libraries and share them with their colleagues within the business? What kind of process and workflow needs to be in place to allow for user led learning and playlists?” Putting control in the employee’s hands allows HR and systems to focus on security and governance and value. Is this content aligned with business strategy; is it created and controlled by experts in the business; how can HR enable content to support value driven data decisions instead of falling into the trap of data owners and process driven decisions. As I shared in point 1, remote working is coming so designing your cloud to provide a framework that caters to your future reality and enables effective and value driven decision making is key.
Our employees are asking us to create flow, not friction
3. Configuration allows for a better employee experience
No longer is it the systems team to design create and setup. The content is owned by HR specialisms and, more importantly, the people within the organisation. An off the shelf product with functionality design that is absent, your people and culture will not deliver the value your need or want. How many organisations are off the shelf? Leaders spend years cultivating the right kind of product offerings for customers, they invest heavily in marketing and branding those products. Why would a product for your employees be any different? The people that configure your systems need to be using human-centered product design, enabling customer-centric workflows and streamlined customised experiences. We are way past the era of set and forget. Cloud-based technologies are evolving at the same or faster pace than the organisation to meet and exceed the needs of the business. Choosing the right modules for your company and determining your implementation schedule should be done with the customer in mind. Which module will deliver the greatest improvement in value, access to information, ability to make decisions? How can my launch schedule build improved levels of functionality and service into the day-to-day experience of my employees? If you use employee journeys as your guiding tool, you will see increased levels of adoption and usage as you launch. Your system should feel like an enabling of your company culture. If your culture and ethos is about “fail fast, learn fast”, your system should reflect that. If you have an aspiration to be open and collaborative, not siloed, then your workflows should be designed to create that. Your systems should feel like your fingerprint, unique to you and designed to reinforce the culture you are striving to become.
People are the greatest asset, and if we follow similar principles of products, we can strive to achieve development and investment in people, resulting in business success. Employee centric design principles force leaders to put employees in the centre. This is employees first, not HR for HR. Our employees are asking us to create flow, not friction. They are asking HR learners to challenge the status quo; for simplicity; to design for the future—not follow the past. You have an opportunity to improve the experience of your employees right now. Help them use the right data for the right purposes; design data and processes to be managed in the most appropriate system; improve efficiency and automate where possible; and above all, do not create data replication— have a single source of truth. Challenge yourself so that you challenge your employees. If you follow these three simple ideas, you have the roadmap for all future decisions related to change.