I read an analogy in “It’s Time for a Second Playbook: HR’s Leadership Role in Transformation” (People + Strategy, Summer 2017) that resonated with me as I consider the workplace of the future.
A CEO commented to P+S, “We’re a planning organization. For nearly 100 years, we’ve known how to plot a path, lace up our boots, and take that hill. But our future isn’t in hill climbing. We’ve got to start surfing, and a wave changes constantly under your feet. Our old boots are a liability in this environment.”
It is common to see HR departments lagging behind in terms of adopting new strategies to meet the needs and expectations of an ever increasing digitally competent workforce. HR leaders often still rely on legacy processes, policies and technologies to manage their business and day-to-day operations. These, however, do not serve to drive their business forward and create the digital employee experience that is no longer optional to engage and retain current and future generations.
HR leaders need to come to terms with the fact that company brand loyalty is harder to come by than it used to be.
Some HR leaders say their company is not ready for a significant change in how services are delivered to employees. They believe their culture would not support a “less human” approach. In response to the digital revolution, they express a desire to retain their “high touch” philosophy when it comes to their employee service strategy, believing this to be a key differentiator in the talent marketplace. But is it a differentiator or an inhibitor to growth and progress? This same talent is quickly consuming applications in their personal lives which are focused on reducing the need to call customer support and enabling them to be self-reliant. Consequently, workplace expectations are evolving quickly and HR leaders must adapt and improve the workplace landscape or lose out in the competition for talent.
Few would argue that strong employee brand loyalty results in longer employee tenure. Most also understand that longer employee tenure has a significant economic impact on an organization, as the longer you retain an employee, the more return you get on that costly investment. With the cost to hire talent increasing, if you hire someone but can only retain them for a short while, not only are you likely underwater in terms of your Cost Per Hire metrics, but you must also incur additional costs to replace that employee. The first question many HR leaders might ask, however, is whether a modern workforce service experience leads to improved employee brand loyalty?
What makes an employee want to stay, contribute and help a company grow? There are many factors including corporate culture, leadership, compensation practices, career mobility, benefit strategies, company purpose, work environment, communication and technology solutions. Addressing some, but not all, of these factors will only get you so far. The true challenge is to create a realistic and manageable roadmap of engaging initiatives that will elicit brand loyalty.
HR leaders need to come to terms with the fact that company brand loyalty is harder to come by than it used to be. Financial rewards, for example, do not necessarily top a list of reasons why Millennials stay with a company. These digital natives expect consumer grade experiences which is why creating a work environment where it’s easy for employees to access information and services is a great place to begin.
- Provide employees with modern consumerized solutions that provide them with direct access to information and services
- Eliminate the guesswork and reduce the number of clicks it takes for an employee to access services by creating a centralized employee service center with “Google”-like search capabilities
- Ensure your services are personal and specific to each employee
- Enable employees to access these solutions any time of the day via their mobile device
- Offer tools for employees to easily collaborate with HR and each other
- Ask for and respond to employee feedback in a timely manner to continuously improve your workforce service solutions
- Create a service experience that starts before day one and continues throughout the employee’s lifecycle with your organization
The generation entering the workforce today (and those to come) has certain ideas about working in an organization. This generation grew up with cool technology and applications, and they will expect to have similar solutions at work. The fragmented service experience currently in existence in many organizations today will easily frustrate them and make it easier to move on to their next gig. Creating a modern workforce service experience is a straightforward way for HR to directly impact their organization’s bottom line. HR can create a powerful reason for an employee to stay by improving how employees engage with HR and the rest of the enterprise.
HR is well positioned to lead the way in boosting employee brand loyalty and improving their company’s bottom line. HR leaders should partner with other departments across the enterprise to design a comprehensive workforce service strategy that incorporates digital solutions and then lead the way to ensuring the new solutions are adopted fully. It’s time for HR to remove its boots and get on that surf board. The next wave is upon us and it’s big!