3 ways to put people at the heart of HR Transformation 

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HR leaders in all industries are engaged in creating digital HR transformation for their organizations by capitalizing on the latest innovations in technology. Their goal: to rethink the employee experience and redesign HR processes with a people-centric approach. But to recruit and retain the workforce of the future, HR leaders need creative solutions to develop and implement the consumer-grade digital technologies and experiences that today's employees are accustomed to.

According to Mercer's Global Talent Trends 2019 report, addressing employee expectations for consumer-grade technologies is one of the top workforce concerns for executives. In addition, 75% of organizations say they are still in the process of developing a fully digital experience for their employees. But for those taking the plunge and driving this change, there are plenty of rewards in store. A well-developed plan for transformation can not only help organizations better meet the needs of their employees and improve their experiences — it can also improve retention rates and yield long-term ROI.

Creating a digital experience goes deeper than transforming the HR function. It will also evolve the way organizations design their employee services and how they engage with people. The process side has traditionally focused on the back end with HR-specific perspectives. Now, this will combine with front-end persona design and automation. The future of HR will be more employee-specific, agile and centered on the needs of people in a way that is relevant to their goals.

Here are a few key insights on how your organization can best adopt digital HR transformation with a people-centric approach.

Design for Specific Employee Perspectives and Personas

In previous generations, HR systems were often designed for HR use only, with processes and content developed for HR's specific expertise and perspectives. Now, systems are designed not only for HR, but for wider audiences with more diverse perspectives within the organization. When creating a digital experience, keep in mind the individual person, their pain points and their unique experiences. This is a new emerging trend, where companies are focusing on how to optimize delivery of HR content and services, to get the right content and transactions to the right people at the right time.

For example, the Global Talent Trends 2019 report found that 41% of executives are planning to invest in chatbots to improve employee self-service, and 39% want to invest in AI to recommend job openings and career paths. Every interaction with HR can be greatly simplified to target the goals and interests relevant to the employee. Providing easier access to the right information will save them time and help them engage more deeply with the organization.

Adapt Technology to Meet Employees Where They Are

HR transformation does not mean reinventing the wheel with new platforms, new apps or new processes. Often, there are opportunities to standardize, simplify and automate HR processes with existing digital tools.

For example, several major companies today want to bring the virtual assistant experience to HR. Imagine if your employees could connect to a voice-activated virtual HR assistant similar to the technology they use in their personal lives. This could give easy, immediate access to relevant HR content and transactions and cut down on time and frustrations.

Instead of spending money on new platforms or making employees learn new logins, more HR leaders are exploring the possibilities of meeting employees where they are with the consumer-grade apps they're already using. For example, if people are using Alexa and Siri, organizations can adapt their HR content to let them use these services at work. Or, if they want to use text messaging or What's App, they can incorporate these platforms, too. Instead of creating or adding new environments, the next stage of HR should focus on radically simplifying these processes by integrating the digital channels that employees are already familiar with.

Some organizations might be reluctant to relinquish control of their processes or let employees use consumer-grade apps or devices to access HR information. But this is already happening, whether the corporate gatekeepers like it or not. It doesn't matter anymore whether the communication tools or platforms are owned by the company or are consumer-grade; the important thing is to keep people at the center of the process and use digital tools to positively transform the employee experience.

Transform HR Communications and Culture

Moving to a more fully digitized employee experience also presents an opportunity to improve HR communication strategies. HR leaders are working to create communications that engage people and deliver relevant information at the appropriate times — via push or pull communications. For example, the Global Talent Trends 2019 report found that 38% of executives want to invest in AI as part of the performance management process, and 40% want AI tools to help identify employees who are at risk of leaving the company. Imagine what your company could achieve if it could deliver precisely timed, data-informed HR communications to help reduce turnover and improve retention.

CEOs are also looking to create a transformed employee experience that's compatible with the company's overall culture and customer-facing interactions. Leading organizations are seizing this opportunity to take a fresh look at how people are taking ownership of the culture and the company's opportunities in a way that's compatible with overall business strategy.

This evolution is about more than digital touchpoints or adapting to new digital tools. It's about seeing a broader view of your company culture, how well you engage with employees and how you can help your employees thrive. With the right approach, you can transform the whole employee experience and empower your workforce throughout their career journeys.

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