In today’s landscape, business transformation is not only inevitable, it’s vital for organisations to survive. Businesses that foresee disruption and adapt accordingly will be able to survive and gain competitive advantages.
If you are in a leadership position, it is your role to guide your business through one of the most technology-fuelled and disruptive transitions that businesses may have ever seen. Ignore what’s happening around us, and your business will stagnate and be left behind. First your staff will start leaving, and then your customers will follow suit. Now nobody wants that!
Larry Fink, Blackrock Chairman & CEO brought this to the world stage earlier this year when he stated in a letter to all CEOs:
“We see many governments failing to prepare for the future, on issues ranging from retirement and infrastructure to automation and worker retraining. As a result, society increasingly is turning to the private sector and asking that companies respond to broader societal challenges.
…To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society. Companies must benefit all of their stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers, and the communities in which they operate.”
Today’s future-focused businesses must be agile, bringing workforces into alignment and engaging them with purpose. Today’s worker is a knowledge worker and they are not looking to be told what to do, but given a purpose and a direction to head in, and most importantly the freedom to execute it.
Many organisations are already doing this successfully, but it is not always easy and if you’re facing challenges in transitioning you are certainly not alone.
In this guide we will explore how you as a HR leader can contribute to future-proofing your organisation.
First, adjust your mindset…
The digital transformation is prompting organisations to think differently about how they manage their people. Businesses who adapt their thinking to the modern work landscape will benefit from higher engagement and the flow on effects of better performance, lower attrition and increased business outcomes.
Think People, Product, Profit
What do many leading innovative companies today have in common? You’ve probably noticed many of today’s tech giants and Silicon Valley success stories have slightly unorthodox management structures, interview processes and even dress codes (or lack thereof).
This doesn’t mean you should fire all of your middle management, start hiring people based on their favourite TimTam flavour or let everyone wear sneakers to work, but what it does mean is you should do whatever it reasonably takes to put your people first.
What we’re talking about is the mantra of people, product, profit. That is, focus on hiring and retaining a great group of people and you’ll be able to create a great product, and in turn, generate significant profit.
But attracting and retaining the best talent can only happen if you create an environment where people feel valued and empowered to do their best work. If that means installing sleeping pods and getting an in-house barista, then so be it, but keep in mind these perks can wear off pretty fast if your people feel they don’t have a voice.
Empowering your people starts with giving them the tools to do their best work every day. If you’re doing these things already, congratulations, you’re on the right track. If you’re not, think of the following sections in this guide as a checklist to help you navigate what lies ahead.
Next, empower your people
As always, having a happy and high performing team is crucial to your organisation’s future success. Thankfully, with the technology and tools available today, it is easier than ever to measure and improve employee engagement and foster improved performance.
Here are some of our top tips on bringing your HR processes into the future and empowering your people in the process.
1. Complement annual performance appraisals with regular check-ins
An automated check-in every few weeks gives every employee a chance to provide real-time feedback to questions like:
- On a scale of 1 to 10, rate your happiness.
- How are you progressing with your goals?
- What have you achieved recently that you are proud of?
- Do you require any type of support or extra training?
The answers to questions like these, inform one-on-one catch-ups between every manager and their direct reports, helping start meaningful conversations and drive a culture based on open communication and feedback.
The biggest benefit of a process like this is that any potential issues can be identified and handled proactively before they escalate. Furthermore, employees actually see value in giving this kind of feedback, as it is not only read, but acknowledged by the manager and (hopefully) acted on.
2. Make proactive and informed decisions
Historically, data was generally kept for legislative and record keeping purposes and to manually sift through every file and analyse the data with any accuracy was simply not realistic. Today however, thanks to cloud-based platforms and real-time reporting capabilities, people analytics metrics can be captured instantaneously and then used to inform, influence and determine the strategic-direction for the company.
One example is employee engagement data. In the past it was difficult (if not impossible) to stay across the sentiment and happiness of every employee at all times, particularly in larger companies. Today though, Artificial Intelligence tools like Sentiment Analysis and Keyword Analysis allow us to do this by automatically analysing and interpreting large amounts of qualitative data.
Now we can extract value from answers in continuous feedback, employee engagement surveys, diary notes and other sources at scale. Words and phrases are analysed to determine if a positive or negative emotional tone lies behind them and these insights can uncover business units or individuals who need help (or recognition!).
In this way, problems no longer need to go unnoticed, and organisations can create better working environments by tackling problems and rewarding high performance. Historically, organisations would discover issues through exit surveys, annual reviews, or looking at past financial performance. In other words, a problem could only be identified long after it was too late to do anything about it. Today we can look at real-time data, and even project insights into the future.
- How is sentiment tracking across the organisation? Is it trending up or down?
- Where are my high or low performers in the business?
- Which areas of my business are costing me and which are delivering a positive return? Why?
- Which managers have the highest attrition rates in their teams?
- What training initiatives are generating the biggest return on investment?
Can you answer these questions on the spot? Advanced people management platforms (like intelliHR) are already able to provide these insights, and the capabilities are increasing every day. Armed with this knowledge we can proactively alleviate employee concerns early and take steps to solve problems before they escalate.
3. Provide self-led tools
Employees today want to take control of their own development and get performing at their peak potential. With this, employees expect to be able to self-manage aspects of their employment. Organisations that embrace this and provide their people with engaging, user-friendly people management tools will not only benefit from a more engaged workforce but will also gather more meaningful insights from analytics as employees will be actively engaging with the software and be on top of their own performance.
Some of the features employees will most appreciate and want to engage with include goal setting and tracking, continuous feedback “check-ins” and instant performance reports. Equipped with these tools, people feel instantly more engaged and in-control of their role. Most importantly, these tools work best when embedded in a workplace culture that encourages open communication through regular two-way feedback and clearly articulated expectations. Both of these are key drivers for empowering employees.
4. Rethink your rating scales
No one wants to say they’re ‘below expectations’, and let’s face it, once an employee reaches this point, it might already be too late to help them turn things around. So why even ask questions like these? People come to work wanting to do a good job, but we all experience blockers from time to time. In order to combat these, we need our people to feel comfortable asking for help before it’s too late. We also need to help frame the mind of the manger to the desired outcomes of measuring an employee’s performance to start with. Consider replacing rating scales like ‘Below Expectations’, ‘Meeting Expectations’ and ‘Above Expectations’ with a rating scale like ‘Need Help’, ‘Good Job’ and ‘Great Job’ or similar.
5. Make goals meaningful
Too many goals get written at the start of the year only to sit and rot in a spreadsheet for 12 months. Ensuring all employees have goals to work towards is essential for giving your people a sense of direction and purpose, however, goals are only helpful if they actually get worked on and completed.
Too many goals get written at the start of the year only to sit and rot in a spreadsheet for 12 months.
Using the right online system to set and track goals is key for ensuring that goals are actually prioritised – and achieved. Using intelliHR, everyone in the organisation can set their own goals or cascade a shared goal to a team member. Leaders can even have chat-style conversations with their direct reports through goal chat making goals a living and breathing tool supporting strategic alignment and operational delivery. Most importantly, everyone can track their own progress and gain a sense of achievement by actually seeing how they’re contributing to the big picture.
6. Encourage lifelong learning
Regardless of an employee’s experience or tenure, there is always room to improve performance, expand their thinking or learn something new. The best employees are those willing to try new things and keep your company at the cutting edge. Make sure you’re encouraging this.
Start by calculating a training budget for each employee. This can be difficult without past data, but know that training is an investment that you can measure against performance to determine ROI. Once you know what training programs are bringing the most value, you can then adjust these budgets accordingly. Don’t forget to factor in time-wage costs for the hours spent undertaking training as well any travel costs incurred.
Even not for profit organisations or those with limited cash can invest in their people by giving a ‘time budget’ for staff to spend on training. There is a plethora of high-quality training courses coming out online that employees can do from the office and are very low cost or even free. Once you have clear guidelines about what training investment you’re willing to make on each employee, and a system to keep track of training, the approval process will be far easier. So now it’s time to start welcoming employees to come forward with what training they want to do.
During regular check-ins with each staff member, make sure managers are asking their people if they feel they would benefit from training or development in any areas. Over time this will foster a culture where lifelong learning is encouraged and your people will feel comfortable asking for training where they will benefit from it most, increasing value for the business.
7. Think about employee experience
Employee experience goes beyond having a nice office or on-site parking. It’s every daily interaction people have with your workplace.
- Do new starters get buried in compliance paperwork?
- Is it a mission to get training approved?
- Does everyone have the resources they need to do their job?
If not managed correctly all of these things can equate to a poor employee experience – no matter how many free coffees you pour on top of it. Ultimately, your people need feedback, recognition, clear expectations and an alignment with the ‘why’ behind what they are doing.
If not managed correctly all of these things can equate to a poor employee experience – no matter how many free coffees you pour on top of it.
By implementing intelliHR, our customers are ensuring all their people have the same great employee experience. The entire onboarding process is completed online in a few clicks, staff members can track and provide feedback on their own training and easily ask for help if they need it.
Of course, a system like this can only provide value to your people if they actually want to use it. To help ensure a high adoption rate among your staff, be sure to select a platform that is user-friendly, enjoyable to use, and makes people want to come back again and again – you might even say, make it addictive. Here at intelliHR, we’ve started integrating gamification concepts into the platform, so every user can feel a sense of accomplishment each time they complete a task, and in turn make everyday tasks into habits that add value.
8. Use people-friendly processes
Once you have a user-friendly system in place, it’s time to replace redundant processes and build out new ones that are simple (and enjoyable) to complete.
Think of performance reviews: historically, review time meant mountains of administration and paper. So it’s no surprise most organisations would only undertake them annually. As mentioned earlier, we now have sophisticated automation tools and systems that automatically email regular check-in forms to individual staff, provide their manager with an update and capture valuable data for analytics.
Not only is this a huge time-cost saving but it’s providing a more accurate snapshot of employee performance. When this process is seamlessly integrated with analytics, we can process the data in a scalable way that allows us to understand how people are feeling, regardless of an organisation’s size or spread. What’s more, by getting real-time, on-demand performance reporting, employees and their managers get the opportunity to fill skills gaps or find solutions to blockers straight away, allowing every team member to keep performing at their peak.
Traditional performance reviews become redundant when automated reporting is coupled with regular check-ins. This new process is far superior and more productive than annual reviews where everything is considered in retrospect, often leaving it too late to action solutions. It also saves the undue stress and angst employees often experience with annual performance reviews as they often have to spend a lot of time scoring themselves and trying to prepare for a nerve-wracking meeting often with no real productive outcome.
Selecting the right software
In order to implement the aforementioned processes, you’ll need to select the right HR software that not only enables these processes but actually enhances them. Here’s our advice on what to look for in a new system to ensure it can support your organisation in the long term.
“In this new era, your natural human capabilities are going to be augmented by computational systems that help you think, robotic systems that help you make, and a digital nervous system that connects you to the world far beyond your natural senses”
– Maurice Conti.
1. Choose technology that helps achieve quality at speed
In today’s world, doing things quickly often equates to competitive advantage. If you automate a manual process, you will typically create efficiency, do something faster, save time and money and so on. When it comes to choosing your HR software – or any business purchase – simply ask yourself if it can do all those things for you.
Incremental efficiency gains add up fast. Take sport for example. milliseconds can be the difference between first place and last, and the same applies to business. Saving time and money is winning in business at the end of the day.
Ultimately, competitive advantage is superior profitability relative to your competitors. Efficiency creation should not be a budget planning decision, it should be the execution of a simple, well laid out business case or a policy to have permission to save time and money.
2. Ensure your technology will be adopted by your staff
If you are looking at a piece of technology, you have to ask the question: “will people actually use it?” Consider the user experience; adoption of any technology is very important and if something is not enjoyable to use it will not be adopted and will be a waste of money.
For example, if only 30% of your staff use the software, you are only getting 30% of its full value. Where possible, have your intended users participate in the selection process. Well planned implementations, change management and communication strategies are key. Intuitive technology built for user experience makes a significant difference. If you have existing technology that is underutilised, that is also an opportunity. Increase adoption of your existing solution or find something that people will actually use and replace it.
3. Select a solution with enough shelf-life
How long will the technology be relevant for? If you have the same system and processes from five years ago and they have not changed or evolved in that time then you are simply standing still. This is where true Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) products are changing their customers’ businesses for the best.
SaaS products are constantly evolving, improving, and advancing fast as new technologies become available. When selecting a shortlist of HR software vendors to choose from, look at their thought leadership. They should be keeping you up to date and at the cutting edge, not only with technology architecture but the domain that they are in as well.
4. Know the Jobs to be Done
Whenever you are looking at technology, it’s not about trying to automate a bad process. Take the opportunity to redesign processes based on what you are trying to achieve. What is the problem you are solving? How have you explored it?
Try a design thinking workshop and ensure all key stakeholders are represented in the room – especially your front-line employees and customers.
5. Keep things functional
Today’s applications are SaaS, meaning vendors manage the infrastructure and the application for you. All you need is the internet to use these applications. The IT department is no longer required to purchase software applications for the business. If you are a development team, marketing team, a finance team, and especially a HR team… Now you have the power to select and purchase your own software. So what are you waiting for?
We hope this guide has provided you with some ideas to get your organisation on track for the future.
Curious to learn more about anything you’ve read today? Chat to us! Call 1300 993 803 (AU) or 0800 631 631 (NZ)