Digital transformation is all about the consumerization of internal practices and tools. To say things simply, what is happening outside, on the customer side, will one day or the other arrive inside with the same kind of approaches and technology for three reasons :
• Businesses must organize to serve their market and customers with the speed, flexibility and experience customers expect. One can’t serve sprinters with a cannonball attached to the leg.
• The employee is a client that walked through the office door. He expects to find a world that’s as simple, effective and engaging as the one he knows as a consumer.
• There is no customer experience without employee experience.
For all these reasons, HR should be the most advanced department in digital transformation.
• Because HR is in charge of hiring digital talents and prevent current ones to lose their digital potential when they walk through the office door.
• Because if transformation is all about culture and usages, it comes internally and externally through people.
• Because, like marketing, HR people are on the front line with human interlocutors (clients vs employees and candidates) and, like marketing, they should be the first to learn from what they see and experience. The first to acknowledge the outside/inside gap.
HR and digital : a gap that’s still not bridged
One could think that HR is bridging the gap in understanding and doing digital over time. Moreover many examples tend to give us hope. However it seems that these example are the trees hiding the forest. A recent Cap Gemini Consulting study titled Using Digital Tools to Unlock HR’s True Potential dampened the hopes of the most optimistic of us.
The first surprising thing in the study is the gap that exists between what employees and candidates do with digital on the one hand and what HR do on the other hand. I hear too often businesses saying “oh but our employees are different….our industry is different, they don’t have the same maturity and expectations” and this excuse does not work anymore.
The study shows that :
• Candidates are social and mobile. They use social platforms to find a job, search and apply on their mobile. A recruitment site that is not optimized for mobile makes 40% of applicant abandon the application process.
But HR approaches do not change that much.
• 6% of businesses use social channels to interact with candidates and strengthen their employer brand.
• 80% are still using “unidirectional” tools for learning (no interaction possible).
• 26% are using analytics to improve hiring decisions.
When 75% C-Suite members think that their HR are lagging that’s a real concern.
However there is no need anymore to explain the benefits of HR digitization and the study shows some interesting numbers based on real cases. When UPS moves from 19 to 15 000 recruitment made on mobile in three tears, when a business realizes that it’s top performing employees did not graduate from the best colleges and so that it is overpaying some employees to get underperformance, there is room to challenge current approaches.
HR are aware of their lagging
I don’t know if it’s a good or bad news but HR are aware of the ineffectiveness of their current practices. Some think that employees are not rewarded according to their performance, some think that annual performance appraisal does not give a relevant view of people’s performance, others know that without an employer brand worthy of the name (ie managed according to current behaviors) it will be hard to attract talents, there is enough to move forward.
HR face well-known barriers
The conclusions confirm my own perception. We can’t say that HR are holding the digital transformation, that they don’t understand or don’t want to change as individuals. There is a set of things that makes the system hold individual wills.
Old IT infrastructure and solutions that prevent to move forward, top management seing HR as a cost and not supporting their effort, lack of data culture. All these points are true and prevent the most pro-active to do anything. But other departments faced the same problems and they managed to transform. Even legitimate, the situation can’t last longer and the systemic excuse won’t work for years.
To end, the study proposes a roadmap to digitize the HR function. If it bring nothing really new and surprisingly puts technology first, it exists and can be used as a guide by those who are lost in their digital journey or don’t know where to start.